Bringing value to Fintechs – Q&A with Juan Sanchez
Juan Sanchez has been working with clients in the ever-changing world of fintech since before that particular portmanteau was coined. Working in our industry and serving this unique sector provides him with a fascinating insight into the challenges facing fintechs today – and how agencies can look to serve them better.
Where do you see fintechs today in terms of where they are in their marketing communications challenges?
I think the conversation in financial services has moved past the scary, “fintechs are going to displace banks” phase and to a more inquisitive phase of people wanting to understand what fintechs do and how to work them at a B2B level, which is really challenging.
What’s so challenging about it?
First, fintechs are really diverse. There are so many different companies, doing so many interesting things that audiences often struggle to understand even their most basic positioning statements. You get these awkward moments where people go, ‘OK but I still don’t understand what you do,’ which can be kind of frightening for a marketer.
Second, you have a dynamic at play where the audience, the target customer, is grappling with a lot of change. Everything from learning new vocabulary to kind of existential questions about their company’s direction, their roles, the future of their jobs. To communicate well with any audience, you have to put yourself in their shoes, and there’s a lot to unpack there.
For example, you have folks at traditional financial services firms coming right out and saying things like, “We’re transitioning from being a products company to a solutions company.” You have business people with little technical background, key stakeholders, contemplating what an API is — and having to explain it to others!
When understanding is that uneven, it makes for a lot of challenges.
What do you about it? How do we help clients overcome challenges like that?
(Laughs) Well, it’s an interesting time to be in the business of helping people explain new ideas, I can tell you that! But seriously, it about going back to basics and having the confidence that great creative can get the job done. The first challenge is establishing trust because often the path to helping these clients communicate better can get a little uncomfortable at times.
How? What’s uncomfortable about it?
In many cases, there’s a common dilemma at work. Tech innovators are often very deliberate in the way they want to explain things and they resist the kind of simplicity and distilling you actually need to establish basic understanding. This is especially true when they need to talk to C-suite and investors. Also, entrepreneurs can get enamored with certain narratives, buzzwords or embellishments that, if unchallenged just clouds and weakens the narrative.
This is where we, as an outsider can really add value, because internally people might be reluctant or unsuccessful in getting people through that distilling process.
Right, but in fintech, there’s also real complexity to contend with, isn’t there?
For sure, and, that’s where creative storytelling pays off, using visuals to explain concepts in really accessible and engaging ways. You can do that better once you establish a strong foundation. Unfortunately, lots of companies string together buzzwords, see people politely nod their heads only to realize later that the outcomes they expected aren’t there because people didn’t sufficiently understand.
I’m a big believer in companies investing educating stakeholders during periods of disruption. There is so much authority and goodwill to be gained by being the brand that helps people ‘get it’. It’s the most noble and valuable contribution we can make as creatives and marketers.
Juan Sanchez is fst’s GM for the USA and LAC and has over a decade of experience in financial technology.