Thought Leadership: The Differentiator for Payments Companies in 2019

thought leadership

We’ve spent a lot of time discussing different fintech marketing and content marketing strategies on this blog, but I want to deep dive into payments. We’ve worked with a number of payments companies for the past several years and one thing is clear: the market is crowded.

From payment processors to P2P payment apps to other B2B payment service providers, the fintech boom is producing an inordinate number of new companies—each fighting for the spotlight.

The good news is that businesses and consumers now have a myriad of payments technology from which to choose. The speed at which new and personalized payments products are being developed is extraordinary.

For payments companies, this means that one of the biggest business challenges is deploying the right marketing techniques to stand out in an increasingly saturated market.

We have good news and bad news.

Great Products Without Great Marketing Struggle

Don’t believe us? Look at banks. Traditional banks in the US have long misunderstood consumer sentiment, wants, and needs. As such, challenger banks have begun to sweep in and specialize in niche areas where they believe they can serve consumer segments better.

Check out a list of some challenger banks here.

Some direct quotes from the founders:

“US mega-banks do not understand small businesses…”

“It’s a rare thing to hear someone say, ‘I love my bank,’…”

“Unlike traditional banks that charge consumers fees left, right and centre…”

 

You can also look directly at the source: the consumers.

Celent released a report in Q3 last year that looked at perceptions of bank and credit union executives versus actual consumer sentiment. As you can guess, there were some big gaps between the two, highlighting the disconnect between what major industry players believe about themselves—and what consumers actually think.

We believe this is a conundrum that spans beyond just banking and bleeds into all financial services companies, payments included. It’s a problem of understanding a business’ client base adequately and  strategically communicating how a business solves for that base’s wants and needs in a way that resonates. 

We’d like to believe that cutting-edge payments companies have an angle on what their customers want. Good businesses build a product to meet customer needs and find creative ways to turn that into a profit. Getting the story out about how each brand is doing this is a whole other project. Unfortunately, it’s a project payments companies are 1) failing at, or (worse) 2) not doing.

What’s more, these disruptors are battling another consumer sentiment: lack of trust. As a new company proposing to help businesses (and consumers) handle their money, payments companies often start behind the curve when it comes to credibility and trust. It’s even more reason to look at how the brand story is being created and shared.

The good news?

Thought Leadership Bridges the Gap

Thought leadership inherently builds trust, credibility, and relationships. Presenting novel ideas that demonstrate deep industry knowledge while solving your audience’s most pressing business challenges is a surefire way to win the hearts and minds of your target buyers.

Thought leadership content does exactly that. Producing white papers, case studies, videos, and other content where you share your thoughts on industry-relevant issues and help lead your audience to the best solution for their needs places you in a position to profit.

Not only does it highlight your brand’s domain expertise, but it spurs conversation and answers burning questions with which the industry is constantly struggling.

For B2B companies with longer sales cycles, it means building trust early, actively growing relationships with prospective buyers, and contributing to the overall leadership of the industry.

On a marketing objective level, thought leadership can drive awareness, encourage engagement, and generate new and qualified leads for your payments business…when leveraged effectively.

There is a downside. Creating effective, enticing, and compelling thought leadership requires time and resources. Nimble companies often operate on a tight marketing budget and internal thought leaders are strapped for time.

In these cases, it can help to work with a vendor that can craft effective thought leadership on your behalf or to work off of a solid thought leadership playbook that can streamline and simplify the process.

In any event, thought leadership must be part of an overarching marketing strategy for payments companies. It’s too competitive to miss out on a tactic that can differentiate your brand from those just treading water.

At the end of the day, ask yourself whether you are the challenger or the challenged. Thought leadership may be the factor that makes that call.

For more help, download our latest resource: Payments Thought Leadership Playbook

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