3 ways this CMO tackled a brand and business launch

Chief marketing officer of Australian financial startup, Finspo, shares how it's built out its product and marketing proposition

It’s been 12 months since a group of ex-banking executives joined forces to build Finspo, a new digital broker proposition aiming to help level the playing field between banks and Australian consumers. And according to Finspo CMO, Dylan Keath, realising the brand and product has required adopting several critical marketing and business priorities.

Finspo officially took the wrappers off its free app-based offering via a launch campaign last week highlighting the group’s mission to reveal the true hidden costs of banking. The campaign was produced in partnership with The Royals and sees the word ‘money’ hidden in distinct camouflage art across urban street posts, large format and digital advertising.

“The way we describe ourselves is as this new breed of home loan broker that looks beyond the home loan to help people manage broader banking relationships,” Keath tells CMO.

“Our core customer insight and the piece we are facing into is this idea that as an Australian consumer, I know I could do better with my home loan and banking, but I don’t think it’s that big a problem perhaps for me. And if I did want to make some changes, I wouldn’t necessarily know where to start.”

Finspo has a team of industry experts and data smarts to aggregate and analyse a consumer’s home loan and banking accounts to firstly reveal the true cost of banking. “It’s the number that’s not obvious to people, talked about or effectively communicated,” Keath says.

“Then we give you a bunch of insights, tips and tools to bank better and save big.”

The app is available for free to consumers to download. Users connect their banking accounts and Finspo’s proprietary algorithms then scour data and surface insights on costs as well as ways to help people bank better.

“There is a huge amount people can do themselves, and a lot of everyday, smaller stuff to lower the cost of banking and to feel better about being on top of your finances. That’s another benefit of what we do,” Keath explains. “But sometimes, particularly with home loans, which have high emotional involvement, happen infrequency and are complex – that’s when we have our home loan experts come to bear to help you navigate that process.”  

Finspo then receives a commission from the banks when a new product is entered into by one of its users. It’s working with intermediary player, AFG, to facilitate the brokering aspect of the process.

3 key strategies to launch

Being ex-bankers, Keath says the team behind Finspo have a clear appreciation for how Australians feel about banking, their relationships with the banks and how they manage money. Keath himself also comes from a banking background, working as a strategist at National Australia Bank from 2006 before being recruited into the marketing team.

“Banks know a lot about banking, Australians not so much,” he continues. “But then how do you most effectively play into that in a way that’s at the intersection of what Australian customers want as well as something we knew we could deliver effectively?”  

The question led Finspo to spend time talking to people and conducting user and customer experience conversations.

“That got us to the first prototypes and our first sense of who we were and what our product is,” Keath says. The first product iteration debuted on app stores at the end of 2020.

“Since then, it’s been about how users are using our products, what features are resonating, and listening through the data. We still do some primary research, but the usage is key.”  

In order to realisation the product and marketing aspirations, Keath points to three elements he’s spent most of his time thinking about over the last year:

1: Finding the right partners

“It’s such a headwind if you don’t have the right partners in place. Sure, commercials have to be in place, but getting that partnership piece right was key,” Keath says of his first priority.

“If you’re as passionate about solving the problem as we are, it was a big sign that you were someone we wanted to have on-board.”

2: Focusing on the right customer pain points

Another element of the marketing approach has been to focus on the critical few customers ensuring the best chances of Finspo’s success.

“You need be really clear on what those key few things are you know you have to absolutely nail,” he says. “For us, that was getting a product to market we knew would add value to people. It was all about how much value we could add as quickly as possible.

“Our communications and marketing was all about how we get a really simple message out there that is very attention grabbing and invites someone to start engaging with our brand. That of course involved bold colours and visual design. We talk about the audience being rewarded by being engaged with our advertising and seeing the hidden detail. That was really important.”

As to the customer sweet spot Finspo is seeking to attract, Keath says the team also started with a clear hypothesis that has largely held true as it launched.  

“We did a lot to understand the market, the opportunities within it, what our proposition will be, how can we best lean into that and what it looks like in terms of product we need to build, position it and get it into the hands of people,” he says. “We’re certainly hitting the mark with what you would call early adopters within that broader definition of an audience.

“We have commercial imperatives, stakeholders to look after, but we knew if we could find a real customer problem and provide a real solution to it, a lot of that stuff will flow.”  

3: Test-and-learn culture

Building a true test-and-learn culture across the organisation has been another vital piece of the puzzle for Finspo. “You have to be careful – you do have to start with good hypotheses and become really good at setting up experiments that are robust, measurable and that answer the key question of that experiment,” Keath says.

“There are techniques and methodologies to help with that. Then it’s about investing in measurement systems, so you have data coming in telling you that you have answered the questions you set out to.”

Read more: Five lessons from Expedia’s test-and-learn culture

Why you should be embracing a test-and-learn culture

Crafting the launch campaign

It’s Finspo’s belief in balancing perfection with experimentation that also informed the timing and approach taken to the launch campaign. As Keath points out, perfection can end up being the enemy of good.

“We felt we had a product that was going to deliver enough value to early users to justify and thank them for trying us out. We didn’t want to wait so long that all those people and many others missed out on the opp to save on their banking. That was the dance we had to perform,” he says.  

“We had been doing some comms to market as we were building, so we had a waitlist of people to build excitement. Just before Christmas, we launched the app into app stores, which was a major milestone. We made sure it was great, working and got those early users through tactical comms and advertising. In parallel, we were working with The Royals on the big comms challenge we put to them.”

The conundrum was how to translate Finspo’s proposition to Australian consumers who weren’t even aware of the savings available to them into a simple, disruptive and compelling message.  

“We have a problem we feel so passionate about and know so much about – Australians can definitely bank better and save thousands,” Keath says. “But none of us spend anywhere near as much time thinking about what for many households is their largest single expense line.

“We had to let people know there is this problem while at the same position ourselves as the people best placed to solve this for you. And do that in a really cluttered marketplace with a bunch of stuff that, if you squint and stand back from it, looks the same. We also need to make every marketing dollar work.

“All credit to The Royals; they didn’t blink. Once we briefed to the creative team, they were as outraged as we were about the savings there to be had. We were onto a good thing.”

Measures of success

As to measuring success, the short-term for Finspo is getting people to adopt the app and Finspo offering holistically.

“For anyone who has spent time thinking about acquiring customers and doing it at scale, there is a very big difference between acquiring any customer and acquiring the right customers,” Keath says. “They need to be customers we can add value to immediately, which will create value for our business over the long-term.”

But long-term is equally vital. For Finspo, that means becoming the brand Australians turn to in order to manage their home loans and banking better.

“That is a humungous awareness and consideration job, and there is a long road ahead of us,” Keath says. “That why we’re using large outdoor and edgy street furniture campaigns – we’re making sure we are where our people are. Consumers aren’t just seeing us pop up in their feeds, we’re here, we’re real and we’ll be here for a while.”  

Keath saw Finspo’s launch platform lending itself to different executions long term. “It’s great to have out-of-home and radio and we want to continue to have literal signposts of who we are,” he says.

“There is also a lot of power in how we take the core creative idea and artwork and push it through more addressable channels and getting that data-driven marketing happening through digital platforms.

“A lot of success we hope to have is by being hyper-transparent and making sure users know why we exist. Constantly reinforcing that is key.”  

Finspo’s always-on, assistant-oriented approach and ability to provide users with constant nudges, advice and insights as their life circumstances change or key life moments occur, such as marriage, kids or switching jobs, is vital to this customer value proposition.

“We have a way in which we think most Australians could roughly halve their cost of banking,” Keath adds. “We think it’s such an important thing for a bunch of Australians to be finding the savings where they can and spending that money on something more important to them.”

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