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How Financial Companies Do Content: 11:FS’ Industry Leading Podcast

Updated: Jun 2

If you live in the UK and work in fintech, then you’re likely familiar with the company 11:FS.

They’re a consultancy, advisory and research company, and are best known for their industry leading podcast Fintech Insider, AfterDark events and Youtube series.

Content has been a big part of 11:FS since the very beginning, and their commitment, as we’ll see, has paid off. Today, their podcast has had over 22M downloads and the company has over 150 employees with clients from 32 countries. 

In this content case study, we sat down with Laura Watkins, Director of Media and Marketing at 11:FS, to learn more about 11:FS’ content journey, the story behind their well-known podcast and the role of content in growing and establishing their brand.

Note: Every couple of months throughout 2024 we’ll be releasing a new case study on how a financial services or fintech company does content. We did one last year with Tilled, about how Caleb used content to generate 75% of their leads inbound. Our next one will be on Adyen. Join the Mint Studio's newsletter to make sure you get it in your inbox!  

If you’d rather listen to this case study rather than read it, watch Araminta’s interview with Laura on Youtube here: [add link]

The story behind the fintech consultancy 11:FS

11:FS describes itself as a company that “builds next-generation propositions for challengers in the financial services industry: existing firms looking to innovate, start-ups looking to scale, and everyone in between.”

If you go to their About page, 11:FS splits what they do in various departments: 

  • Advisory services

  • Consumer and market research

  • Industry benchmarking

  • Core banking capabilities

  • Content and events

11:FS was founded by David Brear, Jason Bates and Simon Taylor in 2016 “at a Starbucks table”. At the time, they felt that large parts of the financial services industry were broken and that digital financial services were only 1% finished. Today, 11:FS works on helping financial institutions and fintechs build the next 99% with their various services.

The 11:FS Fintech Insider podcast was launched the same year the company was founded in 2016. Back then, the podcast was an opportunity for the founders to talk about their opinions on fintech, share their knowledge and discuss trends in the market. Financial services was still a dry and closed off industry, and they felt a podcast would help start conversations and get people talking.

David has always been a huge advocate for content, and right from the beginning they wanted their content to be provocative, and bold. The podcast allowed them to challenge the status quo and get their message out there, without spending a lot on ads. 

Laura joined 11:FS 6 years ago, and now her remit includes running the podcast team and coordinating all of 11:FS’ content, including social media, live events, documentaries, explainer videos and interviews. 

What have been the biggest benefits of being content-first?

Laura shared with us some incredible statistics regarding their content:

  • They have over 22M downloads of Fintech Insider, across 825 episodes, reaching 185 countries globally.

  • They’ve produced 24 After Dark events, with about 200 people per event.

  • They’ve written over 400,000 words of show notes, which is around 800 pages. That’s a novel in itself!

Considering all the effort that they’ve put into this type of content, what are the benefits? As Laura says, media shows and marketing tells. Their media content shows that the 11:FS team knows what they’re talking about and helps position them as thought leaders, which makes media “a great soft selling tool”.

1. There’s very little actual “selling”

One of the biggest benefits of creating so much content consumed by such a niche audience is that the 11:FS team doesn't do a lot of typical “selling”. As Laura puts it, “people already know who we are before we walk in the room”.

When people have been consuming your content for years, they already know what you do, how you think about things and whether they want to work with you. Which means that when they do reach out to work with 11:FS, they are often already highly qualified and sales cycles are incredibly short. 

The strong branding that comes from producing expert content means prospects already trust 11:FS and self-select before they reach out. 

This is not just for business development, but it’s also true for hiring. Candidates already know what the company culture is like, which means they only reach out if they think they’re a good fit.

This is similar to what Caleb, founder of Tilled, said in our case study on Tilled’s content: when you create the right type of content for the right type of people, you get far more inbound business and a much higher close rate. Content allows you to open doors.

2. It’s a lot easier to create content when you’ve got a lot of content

As Laura says “content breeds content”. The 11:FS team creates so much content that they can draw on it forever. They can go back to 2018, see what opinions were shared then and consider bringing them back into the fold for future content. 

When you’re constantly creating content, it’s easier to repurpose and find ideas for other types of content formats, including audio, written and video format. It’s also a lot easier to create high quality content, since you have better visibility over what works and what doesn’t. 

How does 11:FS have their content strategy and operations set up?

If you’re reading this and follow 11:FS, one of your key questions is likely: how? How is the team able to run multiple podcasts at once, create an entire video series all while covering relevant and current topics in every single episode? 

A big part of it, Laura says, is continuously having the ear on the ground of which topics to cover. Financial services is such a broad industry, that 11:FS can’t be an expert on everything. So how do they decide what topics to cover? She talks about the Venn diagram they use to decide on what topics to cover when planning their content:

The 11:FS team are also constantly going to events, running their own events and are also very engaged on social media. Youtube analytics also provides a good insight into what people are researching and how they end up on their videos. And of course, doing a weekly news show means they always know what are the current news topics.  

Running the podcast: the tighter the brief, the better

The Fintech Insider podcast has now been running for 8 years and is a key pillar of their marketing and content strategy. When they first started the podcast, the team was still experimenting and figuring things out as they were going. In fact, Laura says, they still had to explain to guests what a podcast was. 

Fast forward to today, and they have a lot more processes in place that allows them to produce high quality efficiently. For example, they know that the tighter the brief to the editors is, the better. Editors are not the subject experts, and ideally shouldn’t be the ones deciding where to add and remove clips. Now, the team spends quite a bit of time deciding the angle of the episode or piece of content beforehand, making it a lot easier to edit afterwards.

Events and video content: evergreen content tends to do very well

The other type of content or marketing channel that has worked very well for them is events. Although big conferences are great, there are usually so many people that you often end up just networking rather than going to any of the talks. 11:FS’ events are a good mix of both: they’re big enough that you meet very interesting people, but small enough that you can see a live podcast on stage and learn something new. 

Another type of content that the 11:FS team has invested a lot in is video content. They’ve been investing specifically in evergreen and explainer videos, some of them which have been their best performing pieces of content. What’s interesting, Laura explains, is that they may not get many views one week after publishing. But after a year, that video might have thousands of views. They’ve found that searchable content that addresses one specific topic does really well. They also keep a good eye on the topics that work and some that don’t, and they’ve learnt to leverage what they know works when needed.

Written content: own specific phrases

What about written content? Instead of trying to rank for specific phrases, what they have found works is coining and owning a specific phrase. This means that prospects and clients start to speak their language, and of course when they do research online, 11:FS comes up. Some examples of phrases include:

  • Changing the fabric of financial services

  • Digital banking is 1% finished

  • Digital riches

  • Banking battlefield

  • Jobs to be done (specifically for financial services)

As someone who does writing for a living, Araminta was also curious about how they produce the content. Is everyone on the 11:FS team a fintech expert? Laura explains that they usually combine ghost writing and expert insight. Usually, the expert works with the marketer to create a piece of content. The expert will create the content itself, and the marketer will edit it to keep it in line with their tone of voice: unfiltered, provocative, and to make sure it champions 11:FS’ values.

This is the approach we also take at Mint Studios: involving your experts in your content allows you to create genuine thought leadership content that helps you stand out. You can read more about how to implement that here: Why You Should Create Content Based on Interviews With Experts

Hiring the right people: attitude over knowledge of financial services

Almost everyone on the 11:FS marketing team has been hired out of industry. But that doesn’t matter because what they look for is a person with transferable skills, a creative mind and perhaps some experience working in an industry that is technical. 

The most important thing is that they’re someone who knows how to take a difficult topic and break it apart. Ideally, they’re someone who has an open mind and willingness to learn, who is inquisitive and a fast learner. 

Content distribution: social media and cross-promotion on their various channels

The 11:FS team knows better than anyone else that creating content is just half the battle: you also need to make sure it gets in front of the right people. So far, their biggest distribution channel is social media. The founders like David Brear and Jason Bates have a big following, and work as a great megaphone for content. Their organic reach is good enough that they don’t need to invest in paid marketing. 

They also distribute a lot of content via the podcast, as well as their healthy email newsletter subscriber base. For example, if they do a report they will then run adverts on the podcast.

How do you measure the success of your content? 

Like most content teams, they measure the success of content via marketing and business metrics: 

Content success metrics:

  • Traffic 

  • Impressions

  • Downloads

  • Email open rates

Business objectives:

  • Did the content drive any leads

  • Did it start any conversations

However what they’ve found is the best way to measure success and understand the impact of their content is analysing who comes to their After Dark events.

These events work as a great microcosm to extrapolate who’s listening to the podcast, since coming in-person is a clear signal that they’re a superfan. 

The team also uses research reports and surveys to get an understanding of who’s engaging with their content.

What can we learn from 11:FS content?

A lot of companies look up to 11:FS’ podcast when it comes to setting up their own. What tips does Laura have to share with you?

There’s no denying the Fintech Insider podcast had a first mover advantage and launched at a great time when there wasn’t much content about fintech. Today, there are many fintech podcasts and newsletters all vying for the same people’s attention. If you’re targeting people who work in fintech, Laura says “find your voice and story, and find it quickly”.

Make sure you have a unique angle, and you know what you want to say and the story you want to tell. Also, make sure you drop your content regularly, e.g. every Tuesday. 

She also says it’s important to remember that the people listening to you are human, and more than numbers on a spreadsheet. You have to create content that is worth their time. It can’t be the same cookie cutter content of what you did last week. 

Podcasting is an incredible marketing channel because it’s so intimate. Usually, you’re listening to a podcast while on a run, working or doing chores and you’re usually alone rather than with company. That intimate experience means that over time the listener builds a relationship with you and comes to trust you.

Proudest piece of content? The 11:FS documentary

In 2019, the 11:FS team created a documentary titled 11 Years: The Rise of UK Fintech. The documentary recaps the 2008 financial crisis and whether it helped lead to fintech today. Laura was the main producer from an 11:FS standpoint, and helped with putting together the questions and getting the speakers to appear. The documentary features fintech legends like Anne Boden and Tom Blomfield and is a great introduction to the evolution of fintech over the years in the UK. 

11:FS content: Media is a great soft selling tool

Although the Fintech Insider podcast did have first mover advantage, the team still had to commit to doing multiple episodes per week for years before they saw an immediate advantage.  

The unwavering commitment to high quality content in written, audio and video format has put 11:FS as a thought leader in the fintech space and one of the key pillars of the fintech industry in the UK. They’re a great case study of how a services-based company can use content to become one of the leaders in the industry, as well as acquire clients and attract great talent. 

Thanks to Laura for sharing your wisdom and to the 11:FS team for continuing to put out great fintech content over the years!



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