Market like a fintech: What is a “Fractional CMO”? with Andrea Linehan
Updated: Oct 11, 2021
Hosted by Araminta Robertson, 'Market like a fintech' is the new podcast for fintech marketing professionals and enthusiasts who want to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in the industry, and level up their marketing knowledge. Subscribe here to never miss an episode.
In this episode, Araminta is speaking with Andrea Linehan, CMO at CurrencyFair. Andrea worked for 10 years in the Middle East for the Omani government, and then worked as the CMO of a fintech startup called GRID Finance. At CurrencyFair, she’s been leading the build of their lead generation and sales enablement infrastructure, as well as establishing the international payments technology brand.
Andrea sits on the board of the Irish International Business Network, is an advisory board member of the CMO Council, and until 2020, she was an advisory council member of the Small Firms Association in Ireland, a position she held since 2016. Andrea is a regular speaker at conferences, summits and universities, and covers topics like fintech marketing, financial inclusion, social entrepreneurship and much more. Earlier this year, Andrea was also recognised as one of the top 30 most influential fintech marketers of 2021 on our annual honorary list.
What is CurrencyFair? It’s a global payment company specialising in FX for both consumers and businesses. They’re based in Dublin, Ireland and have raised a total of $24.5M throughout all their rounds. They recently acquired payments company Assembly in Australia, as they look to expand their suite of products.
What is a “Fractional CMO”? How can marketers learn to speak CEO and CFO’s language, and explain the value of brand? Listen to the show below to find out.
“[When] you have that finance background, you can kind of help explain and justify the investment, which is probably what a lot of marketers struggled with. Why are we spending so much money on that TV ad brand awareness? You have to have a view, [and be able to] explain that right in with numbers. And if you take brand awareness conversation and link it to brand value, brand equity, and what that means for the valuation of the company as a whole - link it to the reality of when a business is being valued. The brand piece is epically important. And investors of all levels of sophistication are going to be looking at that."
"The moment you steer that conversation to there, all of a sudden, all of those brand awareness TV commercials make complete sense….It is up to us as marketers to find those ways to present what we're doing that makes sense not just to the bottom line, but also the bigger picture of what the business is trying to achieve. And, brand valuation is an ISO-certified activity now. So, we have the statistics and the certification to back these things up. And we need to lean on those a lot more.”
“People tend to bring on a marketing person, as an advisor on the board or just an advisor in general. This is good, but you need somebody who's able to help the business follow through on execution, and help follow through on the day-to-day bits. Because strategy is easy. It's the execution that is the real challenging part. And I think this is really important."
"That's what a Fractional CMO can do. It can help the business set the strategy and follow up right through to execution, and the measurement and all of those things that the CEO and the rest of the leadership team needs to be able to see it. Because the reality is even the marketing team that might already be in place, they're only as good as the most senior person that they have in their marketing function. And, it's not feasible or fair to lean on the CEO or the other leadership team members to try and bring the training and the education of the marketing piece up because they don't have it themselves. So, if you really want to level up and bring that level of expertise into your business, you're gonna have to bring it in. And [a Fractional CMO] is just an affordable way to do that. “
Level up your marketing mojo! Subscribe to the Fintech Marketing Monthly Digest and join our growing community of fintech marketers.
“We have a responsibility as marketers to help meet the CEO or CFO halfway, and try and speak their language. Now, it's not feasible for everybody to go out and do chartered management, accountant qualification. But, there are many free and accessible ways that we as marketers can use the language that CEOs and CFOs can really understand so that they can start attributing what marketing does to the fundamental investment side of the business and not just as an expense.”
“[On the value of marketing] If we have those discussions with CEOs and CFOs, and say: Well look, in order to make sure that there isn't major volatility around the revenue line, we don't want that because why it scares investors, it increases our risk profile, it increases our impacts our credit profile, which then as I see a good CFO, and obviously, a very basic level understand that that obviously means that in terms of debt negotiation, capital requirements, all of this gets impacted. All of a sudden, then the CEO and CFO are looking at revenue and marketing's direct influence over that from a different lens. And these are simple concepts that I think if marketers took the time to really understand puts us in a very powerful position.”
"Also, we're not just having those conversations at the C suite level. It's really important that when I'm talking to my team, that I have to give them comfort around having those conversations with their level counterparts on the finance side because it's frightening. But if we can bridge that gap of understanding, all of a sudden that becomes a very open conversation. But this requires training. That's education, and it has to be different from both sides."
“Fintechs [are] becoming those big players. So, we as a sector have marketed ourselves collectively as challengers to traditional financial institutions, challengers to banks were different. But now what we're seeing in the market happening is fintechs are becoming banks, they're getting their banking licences, they're partnering with these big institutions. And all of a sudden, we're telling consumers, we are the other choice, and in a lot of places, and we've seen a lot of bank bashing that has gone on over the years, and all of these big marketing tactics. So, we have to really be careful here around the industry, fintech industry brand as a whole and making sure that as we become banks ourselves, get these licences, partner with them, that we're very open around that. The why of that, and have a very succinct narrative around that. Because consumers are savvy, and you know, if we, if we don't spell it out for them as to why this is good for them.”
“At CurrencyFair we really put an emphasis on our content and looking at our content as valuable assets within the business. And making sure that what we're doing is servicing our customers with useful information that is not always super linked to the product and service. Now, content marketing is not new, right? This is not revolutionary, but it's actually incredible how many people are not doing it.”
“A content marketer who understands, fundamentally that what we need to be providing our customers has to be super relevant to where they are in life, is the key to retention and to engagement.”
“[On sponsorships] We are a utility, our customers don't get to touch and feel and see their money moving, it's here one day, and then when they open their accounts, they can see that it's there the next day. So, to be able to provide something tangible, something that they can resonate with, gives a lot of comfort, and it helps with that trust and that credibility and when you are a fintech, you know, people are, and they don't really understand what you are, what you do. And the brand is young enough. And maybe if there isn't the kind of relationship with the leaders, you know, if your CEO isn't a famous founder, that's in the media all the time, they're looking for something to attach to personally. So, they could say: “Okay, if they're attached to that, I trust that or that person. that resonates with me, okay, I feel comfortable now”.”
“[About CurrencyFair’s future] What started off as a consumer marketing team, who then has built out to become a hybrid of b2c and b2b marketing with some specialists and some generalists. Now all of a sudden, we're going to have two separate brands that we're going to be managing, But we'll be smart and manage it all on the same martech instance, where possible, but that's the switching costs of that, for my team is going to be quite immense. So, where I'm spending a lot of my time now over these next few weeks, is building out that that talent pipeline, and what are the skill sets that I will need, at all levels of my team at the senior management level, right down to an execution level, and specialist level, to be able to manage those two brands, those two very different journeys and propositions and, and all of that right now.”
Where can you find and hire a "Fractional CMO" and how you can build a strong and highly-valued brand equity? Listen to Andrea’s complete story below.