Mar 22, 2022
Marketing for Fintech Startups
By Stavvy Team
On this edition of Finside Chats, we’re joined by Mark Nolan of York IE. York helps B2B startups turn big ideas into successful, scalable businesses, both through advisory services and early-stage investment. Loyal listeners will recall we spoke with the company’s founder, Kyle York, some weeks ago.
Mark’s role is to guide startups in planning and executing effective communications – from PR and marketing messaging to social media. We’ve worked with Mark and appreciate his talents and perspective. Because he’s worked with so many early-stage organizations, we’re pleased to hear about his experiences and guidance for young companies.
Listen now: Marketing for Fintech Startups
3 Noteworthy Takeaways from the Episode
#1: Start smaller
Every entrepreneur or founding team eventually has to make a string of interconnected marketing decisions. When do we start? What do we say? How much budget will we need? Mark describes that in many cases startups set their sights too broadly, trying to tell their story, or stories, to the whole world all at once. He suggests a narrower, more intentional approach, especially early on. “You really want to make sure that you are getting that message to the right people,” he explains. “And that doesn't always mean making the biggest splash. It's really who's going to be listening to this, who do we want to be listening to this? And what are the stories that we're going to be telling them?”
Budgeting decisions are particularly challenging. It would be simpler if there were a magical direct correlation between marketing spending and market impact, but that’s not always the case. “What I've found on the budget side, it's a lot harder to give a definitive answer, because there's a lot of effective things that you can do that don't cost any money, they just cost, basically, a lot of time,” he relates.
#2: Make marketing personal
Marketing is a core business function, staffed by specialists and supported by advisors like Mark, but he reminds clients that marketing is also a personal matter. It’s something that everyone at every level in an organization is responsible for. “The founder or entrepreneur or just anyone inside of the company [needs to tell] their story and their perspective on the industry, or the product, or the specific space that that company is playing in,” he notes. That means everyone in the business making sure that on their own social channels or in their own relationships they are consistently evangelizing and educating. “Whether it's a personal story of how that particular person got to where they are today, or something that an old partner mentioned to them fifteen years ago that still resonates, or what that person's mission is. It's like getting your own brand up to speed and making sure that you're paying attention to the conversations that you're having. But you get to inject a little bit more personality into it,” he suggests.
#3: Avoid too many hoops
We heard through the grapevine that Mark was going through a refinancing, so we were curious about his experience through that process. It wasn’t good. “I think the most surprising thing to me was that nothing has changed from when I bought a condo in 2014, and then a house in 2018. Now it's 2022 and nothing has changed about the process,” he says. “It actually feels like it's gotten worse.”
It wasn’t a surprise to hear this. This kind of frustrating experience is what led to a push by Stavvy and others to digitize and simplify the workflows of originating loans, closing transactions, servicing, and more. “It feels like to me that I'm still jumping through ten times as many hoops as I should be,” he says. For instance, his credit union lender required him to use multiple systems that didn’t connect with one another to locate and send documents securely. “It's so clear that this is just a space that has not caught up and has a lot of room for improving things and making everything more efficient. There's just so much nonsense that has to be waded through,” he added.
“Logic seems to dictate that, at some point, you're going to reach some sort of critical mass [where] the innovation slows down. Or there's that old adage: no new ideas. It's just been fascinating to me to watch that not be the case and learn about all these tools and problems that are being solved in such fascinating and interesting ways. I think that's been the maybe most surprising to me in the startup space.”
- Mark Nolan
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