It’s no surprise the financial services sector is becoming commoditized. Everything from market access to trading tools and data and price are generally pretty similar for brokers and vendors. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to market the differentiators in a service provider’s technology offerings to provide customers with unique selling points and tools.
At a recent Financial Communications Society Chicago luncheon (panel put together and sponsored by Gate 39 Media, along with other FCS sponsors), financial services firm executives outlined a number of interesting strategies and trends that could help create new opportunities for firms looking to stand out among their peers.
Here are four themes gleaned from panelists: Kevin Comer, Exec. Director and Head of Global Marketing at CME Group, Mark Haraburda, CEO of Barchart, Joe Gits, CEO and co-founder of Social Market Analytics and Tom Sosnoff, founder and co-CEO of tastytrade.
Find Your Different Differentiator
Provide content to your customers they can not easily find anywhere else. For Social Market Analytics, it has honed its message to the hedge fund and institutional trading community as THE place to go for market sentiment from a wide range of twitter analytics.
One might think Barchart, a market data provider, has a pretty generic product to sell. But the firm has diversified its data sets over the years and developed some incredibly specialized commodity data sets that could help commercial ag providers with data such as its crop growing Conditions Index by county, region, state and country. Finding those interesting and valuable services is key to a firm’s growth and marketing.
Find your talent
If finding talented programmers, engineers and mathematicians is difficult for you, well, join all of your competitors. Firms looking for highly skilled technology positions find it tough to compete with hedge funds with deep pockets and even tougher to compete with Amazon and Google, who have deep pockets and big names. That said, Barchart has had success attracting talent by creating and maintaining tight pipelines to local universities. Given interns real projects with real results helps build a relationship that leads to loyal employees.
As for marketing services, none of the panelists have embraced robo marketing programs. Instead, they have found success in reaching out to customers in person. Tastytrade, for example, actually emails and texts customers with personal messages from actual employees and executives. It is time consuming, but sure builds customer loyalty when clients get a CEO’s response.
Are Mobile Apps So 2016?
One of the more interesting trends in the space is in the use of apps. Everyone on the panel said mobile services and communications is critical. But building and maintaining native apps on Apple and Android devices is starting to give way to a more efficient way of doing business – building a responsive website and newer technology such as Progressive Web Apps websites that can download and function as a mobile app. Barchart is doing both, but it is testing whether its responsive website may actually be providing a better user experience on a mobile device. And given the demand for high-end developers, a responsive website may be the better, cheaper and more sustainable way to go for a firm. This differs for each firm, of course, but it is worth asking the question: Just what are we trying to accomplish here and is one or both approaches needed?
Adapt to changing market conditions
Every marketplace is at the whim of outside market and economic forces. As market watchers around the world start looking at the end of this 10-year bull market, the question for market participants is: What will that do to your business? Again, it differs for every participant. Volatility means more volume for some firms and it can be challenging for others. But the bottom line is that firms are looking now at how best to market their products and services in a bear market. And this is where some firms believe they will shine.
Barchart and Social Market Analytics offer data and information that may be informative and perhaps even predictive of various market trends. Pushing those attributes now, especially as participants begin to think about defensive posturing is key to their marketing efforts. Offering customer service, education and valuable information in the face of such market shifts may also be crucial to one’s marketing plan.
Ultimately, such efforts can pay off for firms in a variety of ways – building customer loyalty, building brand awareness and putting your name ahead of the pack.
NOTE: Special thank you to the Financial Communications Society of Chicago for sponsoring this event, and for allowing Gate 39 Media to put together the panel for this event, and to Tom Sosnoff of tastytrade for his work in moderating the event!