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 chatting with Valentina Kristensen, Director of Growth and Communications at OakNorth. Valentina has helped grow OakNorth into the billion-dollar company it is today. She is a founding editorial board member of Influencer Magazine, and a self-professed fintech nerd.
What is OakNorth? Founded in 2013, OakNorth is a UK bank that provides fast, flexible, and accessible debt finance to fast-growing businesses. It’s been nominated the fastest growing business in Europe by the Financial Times, lent over £5 billion to hundreds of UK businesses, and been turning a profit since 2017. OakNorth is currently valued at 2.8 billion dollars.
In their chat, Araminta and Valentina talk about how OakNorth began their marketing on a tight budget, why they decided to focus on earned and owned marketing activities, and the benefits of focusing on targeted PR.
This episode is brought to you by VC Innovations.
VC Innovations is a full-stack marketing services agency dedicated to innovation industries with a special focus on Fintech. They work with businesses across 3 key areas of marketing infrastructure, demand generation campaigns and event properties including the must-attend Fintech Talents Festival. Check out www.vcinnovations.co.uk to find out more.
"The difference between financial services PR versus other types of products are a couple of things. One is the trust element. It's not like marketing a shampoo or ice cream. Financial services have experienced a scandal of the extent that you saw with the (2008) financial crisis. And therefore, the messages that you need to communicate, the amount of work that you need to do from a communication standpoint, to try and rebuild that trust are obviously very different."
"The second thing is that financial services are pretty intangible. Money is not intangible, but you put your money in a pension, and you won't see it for the next 40-50 years. So, even trying to convince people to save money for a pension, to put money into a fixed-term savings account, to borrow money, or to invest money - these are all things that you can see on your phone on your screen - but it's not like shampoo or ice cream or a consumer product that you could see, touch and feel in real life. Because you can't give someone a pension or a savings account or a current account, and then immediately have them...have a strong reaction to it, you've kind of got to build that trust over time, and enable them to see the value from that product over time."
"When [consumers] can't just go to the supermarket, pick up the different products, smell them, try them out, like you could do with a consumer product, then you do need to put those very strong messages upfront to convince them. And obviously, that's where PR is really important."
"I think if something's going really well, in your finance, in some of the financial services products - it's happening more, certainly with the FinTech businesses, but it didn't happen before - that people would shout about it and be like, 'Oh, my God, this is the most amazing thing ever'."
"Because of how important [fintech] is to people's everyday lives, it's one of those things that need to be working all the time, but you're not going to get loads of praise, just because it is [working]."
"In the beginning, we were a startup with an idea, but we didn't have a proven proposition yet. Obviously, we managed to turn a profit pretty quickly ... But I think that was really why initially, the focus in terms of the marketing mix was, much more focused on PR, and owned and shared content, rather than above the line or paid for media, just because we didn't really have the budget to do it."
"If you think about what, in terms of the messages that you're going to be using in PR, a lot of it's going to be focussed on customer case studies, customer stories, celebrating those successes."
"What we've done up to this point is really trying to do much smaller, much more targeted events, other types of marketing, other types of communications, even if it's a newsletter, for example. Trying to make that as tailored to that specific audience as possible."
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"We've done a lot of that sharing of best practice, where we've sort of collected views from a number of leading businesses in a particular sector, again, just anecdotally, from those conversations, and then we've shared that or we've connected those customers directly to one another so that they can sort of exchange war stories and see, okay, well, 'how did you get around that?', or 'how have you been using this particular government benefit or government stimulus?', or 'how can we ensure that we make the most of it and that we use it effectively?"
"You probably need to give the customer some reassurance that you're a stable, credible brand. And making sure your brand is out there is a good way to do that."
"Of course, hiring an agency is going to be more expensive initially, but I think what it can do is help to lay some of those foundations; help to get some of the core messaging really, really clear, internally; help you to identify who your spokespeople should be; getting media trained, and so on."
"Probably one of the best resources for me throughout my career has been the Chartered Institute of Public Relations or the CIPR ... You have the opportunity to meet and network with many other professionals, people with decades of experience, who've really been around the block."
For more interesting insights, listen to Valentina's complete story below.