When you’re launching a start up, keeping operations as lean as possible is a priority. When it comes to marketing, you want to know what you’ll need to prioritise to give your big idea the greatest chance of success. What are the steps you can’t afford to miss out? How do you fit marketing into your launch programme? What place does content play?
Here’s what we learnt when we took Bristol-based fintech start up Wealth Horizon through the process. Plenty of lessons to take away for your business and digital project too.
Wealth Horizon – a game changer for investment
Wealth Horizon is a total game changer when it comes to investment. It’s a new online advice and investment solution, backed at every step by financial advisers to give people in the UK a simplified, cost effective and supported service.
Founder Chris Williams knew that the right digital content would help raise him raise the profile of Wealth Horizon, and engage potential clients in the lead up to launch and beyond. We worked with him in the nine months before the business went live.
Seven big lessons other start ups can learn from
Here’s the process Chris went through, with six lessons that other start ups can learn from too.
1. Message first <– start here
What Chris first wanted was help with the story. How could he frame the message to make it clear and compelling?
There was a challenge around building trust in the message and content, as well as building awareness of a new brand in a crowded space. Apathy, procrastination, and a general distrust of financial advice firms were some of the hurdles the message and content needed to cross.
A key stage in the project to launch Wealth Horizon was real customer research and persona development. We wanted to know exactly who it was Wealth Horizon would be writing for, and how they really felt about their finances and investment.
Investing is an emotional decision, not a purely rational one, so it was important to understand the mindset of potential new customers, in order to create the message, tone of voice and content that would speak directly to them.
>Do this – know your customers inside out. Data helps but talking to them is the key.
2. Have the confidence to share the personal story behind the business
The other key component in pulling together a compelling, trust-building message was Chris’ personal story. Why did he feel so strongly that this new investment advice service was needed?
We knew he had to make it personal. Chris had spent years in the financial advice industry, running firms and as president of the IFP. He believed in the value of sound financial advice and smart investment, but changes in the industry had made good advice harder to come by, leaving too many firms chasing ‘high net worth’ individuals whilst the rest of the population went unserved.
By marrying up digital and advice Chris wanted to close the advice gap. A new firm and service was born – Wealth Horizon – because everyone deserves access to sound financial advice.
Sharing Chris’ purpose – with the story of why he set up the company up front on the web and through all communication – helped build people’s trust and get them behind the new business.
Starting with the why and a clear sense of purpose helped us shape the Wealth Horizon story. This was important for attracting clients, but also to motivate and inspire the team (internal and external) as well. This was a project that mattered.
>Do this – purpose is powerful. Shout about this.
We created a powerful Wealth Horizon manifesto for the website that captured the Wealth Horizon beliefs.
3. Tell a simple story well
A strength of the site is the way the simple language and design work hand in hand to tell a story. We developed the copy alongside talented brand and web designers – making sure the words and images and site design worked seamlessly for the reader. Pared back yet powerful pages like Time for Change and We Believe help to humanise the new digital service.
>Do this – use customer research to develop a message and tone of voice that strikes the right note.
4. Collaborative development of brand, content and web
Mytton Williams developed the work we’d done on the message to create a very strong visual brand. 3Sixty picked up the visual brand, message, content marketing strategy and content wireframe and translated it into award-winning responsive and user-friendly website design for Wealth Horizon. We wrote the web copy to fit the pages as they were developed.
All three outsourced partners worked together as a team, sharing ideas and helping each other move the project on. Picking a collaborative team of independent specialists was vital to the success of the project. No egos and plenty of crossover meant we worked together to get the best result for Wealth Horizon.
> Do this – pull together a team of collaborative specialists to work on your project.
5. Use as many channels as possible to get the word out
Your content is at the heart of your digital marketing universe, but to make a big impact for a new start up you need to take that content out widely. Chris and the Wealth Horizon team told the story through a variety of channels:
- PR – online and off, leading to wide press coverage for Wealth Horizon. This was a very big part of the marketing push and helped to build awareness of the new brand fast.
- Digital – Pay-Per-Click advertising, Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engine Marketing (paid search).
- Social media – connection and content sharing on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn helped to deliver on the mission and get the word out.
- Talks – Chris spoke at IFA events, joined panel discussions on the future of investing and got the word out to large audiences at events.
> Do this. Create a joined up digital marketing universe so that your story gets heard and reinforced in as many places as possible.
6. Build your list
If you want to develop a one-to-one relationship with a potential customer, you need permission to talk to them directly. Email is still the simplest way of doing this, but we’re all much more wary these days of opening our inboxes up to more spammy sales messages. Wealth Horizon used the blog and valuable guides to encourage sign up to the list.
> Do this. Start building your list early (before the business launches) and treat the people on it with respect. Be helpful, not pushy. Use it to develop relationships, ask questions, and further refine your offering.
7. Create content for each step of the sales process
Content that gets people behind the mission is great for pulling people towards you. Chris shared the story behind the business very widely – through the blog articles, on the website, in the press and in person at conferences and events. (See how Hiut Denim have built their business with a strong story too).
But good marketing is not just about lead generation. It’s about helping the buyer along the sales process, from awareness to interest, consideration to purchase and beyond.
The right content (aligned with smart marketing automation) can help motivate interested customers to take the next step. Wealth Horizon created content assets to nurture relationships at every stage, from interest-capturing opinion pieces and blog articles to printed guides sent to delight customers on sign up. All this help to create a stand out experience for the customer.
>Do this. Think beyond lead generation and create content that answers customer questions and invites them to take the next step with your business.
Apply the lessons to your start up (or digital project)
Be brave, collaborate, build a collaborative skilled team (in an increasingly specialised digital world no one agency can do it all), start list building early, tell a simple story well and create content for every step of the buyers journey. Key lessons for any start up looking to use content marketing to launch a new product on the world – great advice for any website project in fact.
>For more on how Valuable Content helped Chris Williams and team, read the Wealth Horizon case study.