Regardless of how complex your product may seem, your company’s marketing message should be simple and straight-forward. A complicated, dense message could alienate customers unfamiliar with the technology and reduce your leads. Crafting a narrative around your company’s solution should translate to all sides of your target market — potential customers, investors and users.
“Simpler, more authentic ways of describing customer pain points and how we help to solve them was essential to driving interest among some of the world’s largest companies,” says Tom Roberts, SVP, Global Marketing at PrimeRevenue, a Fintech supply chain enterprise. PrimeRevenue successfully frees up cash for their clients, which include Michelin and SAB Miller, so they can invest it back into their companies.
Roberts has held positions at several Fintech companies such as Fiserv, CashEdge, and E*Trade Financial and has seen Atlanta’s Fintech industry evolve beyond big payment processing companies into a diversified environment that includes major startup successes like Kabbage to smaller and mid-size businesses.
He shares his marketing insights since arriving at PrimeRevenue, the brand challenges he faced on day one, and why simplifying the company’s message drove its marketing strategy to success.
You’ve worked on simplifying the PrimeRevenue brand and presenting the company in a more digestible way. How did you approach this?
When I arrived at PrimeRevenue 18 months ago, I had to start by understanding, at a deep level, what value we delivered, how we precisely accomplished that, and what our defensible differentiators were. Most of the PrimeRevenue team was so close to the problems we solved and how we solved them that they over-complicated the communication around it. What I inherited was very dense, very academic and aimed more at bankers than at our key decision-makers.
But every marketing person should be so lucky to find a great story that is not being effectively told. That’s exactly what I discovered with PrimeRevenue. We work with some of the world’s largest brands to help them optimize their working capital, and we support their suppliers by giving them more visibility and control over what their customers owe them. I crafted the narrative around the immense ROI we deliver into a simple core messaging for both buyers and suppliers.
Once you understood the product, what specifically did you do?
I spent the first 8 months here building a network of external professional marketing partners to augment my internal team. The external partners added expertise we didn’t have AND assured we spoke to our audiences in ways that smart people who weren’t experts in our area would understand. In that time, we created (from scratch) our brand platform, a completely new web site, our analytical tracking capabilities and a core set of materials to drive content marketing.
While the nuances of supply chain finance can be complicated, it turns out that the basic principles of what we do are quite simple, and we deliver huge ROI for both big companies and their suppliers. I knew we had gotten it right when we produced two very short videos (less than two minutes) that relate what we do, along with the benefits to buyers and their suppliers. Visitors to our site have viewed these videos thousands of times, and we know one huge global prospect viewed one of them twice just before asking to talk with us.
What challenges did you face during this brand overhaul?
What we do – generate hundreds of millions of dollars in cash flow gains – is so strategic that some companies don’t want us talking about it. That obviously presents problems for marketers and sellers. Proof points are a key ingredient in our sales and marketing processes. So, we work hard to get big global brands to let us “out them” as clients. Several that we’ve been successful with in the past year are Michelin, farm equipment maker AGCO and the brewer SAB Miller.
We nominated each of these companies for awards offered by leading financial publications. We gained their permission and worked with them on the submissions. And all three won. Which provided great recognition for their innovations and a way for us to gain visibility into key client relationships. We’ve found award submissions to be a key ingredient in gaining public proof points.
How did you approach the company when talking about the new brand message?
I’ve done a lot of work to simplify complicated messages for B2B audiences in the past. I find the key is putting together a logical story about what you are trying to achieve and how it will accelerate sales. Then you’ve got to be a great collaborative, internal seller of both your approach and your progress. I say collaborative since one mistake marketers seem to make is huddling with their team and then popping new “stuff” on an executive team. Unless you’re lucky, that can backfire.
Why was simplifying the brand so important for the marketing strategy?
In addition to marketing, I’ve had several roles running sales teams. So, I’m acutely aware that marketing’s job is to help drive customer acquisition and expansion as effectively as possible.
A simplified brand message was key for us putting in place a sophisticated, multi-channel digital lead and demand generation program. Frankly, the company didn’t have much in the way of lead gen other than some field marketing at very small niche conferences.
What are some accomplishments you’ve had during your time at PrimeRevenue?
As for marketing’s contribution, the lead generation program we put in place has, in its first seven months of operation, generated 35 qualified sales opportunities, with a total current pipeline contribution of $3.25 million in annualized revenue. In addition, three deals have already closed with annualized revenue of more than $1M.
So far this program is exceeding expectations. We target senior finance and procurement professionals in very large global enterprises – hard people typically to get in front of. But our multi-channel approaches, combined with very well executed educational content on an arcane subject are driving more conversions, lead flow and quality conversations than expected.
Another area for growth is the mid-market, which for us are companies with $300M to $2B in revenue. Recently we sourced ways to fund programs for these companies so we’ve expanded marketing to them as well, starting with the U.S. We haven’t completely cracked to code on mid-market messaging and conversion, but we’re making great progress and having a lot of early success.
Can share your perspective on Atlanta as a place to build a Fintech company?
I came to Atlanta in 2006 when I moved E*TRADE’s equity comp business out of Northern California to Alpharetta. In the decade I’ve been here, FinTech has really grown and diversified in Atlanta. Previously the ATL was home to lots of “big iron” payments processing companies, such as First Data, Elavon, World Pay and Tysys. But there wasn’t much in the way of successful startups and mid-sized companies. That’s changed. We now have credible companies like PrimeRevenue, Kabbage, Greensky and Cardlytics who have grown and really changed the landscape.
In addition, the city is changing dramatically. Midtown, where we are headquartered, has so much energy. With Georgia Tech, Georgia State and Emory so close by, we’ve got a great pool of talent to recruit from. Given our cost, lifestyle and talent advantages, I’m incredibly bullish on Atlanta continuing its march to becoming a dominant hub for Fintech innovation.