CMO Interview: How Credit Simple is disrupting the fintech marketing landscape
- 01 June, 2017 08:36
Credit Simple's CMO Emily Stevenson reveals how the company is fast making inroads to create brand awareness and engage customers in a more agile way
The credit industry is fiercely competitive, and major banks have strong and deeply established roots offering credit scores and advice. But New Zealand fintech startup, Credit Simple, is fast making inroads across the Tasman as well as in Australia thanks to its ability to engage customers in a more agile way.
First launched in New Zealand in September 2016 and following fast success, Credit Simple debuted in the Australian market in February 2017. While the startup is a very new and relatively small fish in a big pond, its CMO, Emily Stevenson, said it’s enjoying an exciting, fast-growth trajectory.
“It’s all very new,” she told CMO. “Last year, I was the third employee and now there are 17 of us.”
The company began quickly disrupting the New Zealand credit score landscape after a realisation there was nothing like it available in that market, Stevenson said. In Australia, the brand faces more competition.
“New Zealanders were quite mind-blown by the fact there was this number on them, whereas Australians were more aware credit scores existed. So it was great for us experience that disruption,” she said.
Credit Simple has recently gained the financial backing of Dun & Bradstreet, which Stevenson said equates to a bigger marketing budget and greater flexibility to take action.
“While we don’t have the huge marketing budgets of the big banks, we don’t have a tiny budget like other startups either, so it means we can be really flexible and test a lot of things, which has been great,” she said.
For instance in May, Credit Simple began testing cinema advertising. The company has also rolled out a number of social media campaigns, is building video and blog content, and has recently trialled TV ads and infomercials to create wider awareness.
“We’re basically just putting ourselves out there to see what works. Every month, we look at those numbers and see what what's working what's not working,” Stevenson said. “This also means we have the ability to get to market quickly because we don't have those layers of approval marketing leaders of perhaps the bigger financial players have to go through. So I enjoy working closely with my team and the technology and product team to test and learn, and deliver results fast.”
Credit Simple’s mission has been to build its entire business online with a digital-first approach. It’s a unique point of difference, especially now in Australia where there is a lot more competition, Stevenson said.
“Moving so fast in the first year, you can get a bit lost in building a product and the technology, and forget that you actually need to show the customers why we're different and why they should come to us,” she continued. “That has definitely been a challenge.
“And if the technology is not there and the product is not there, it just doesn't work. Something we've noticed as a startup is that we all have to work really closely together and make sure we're all aligned. That's been absolutely key but also our biggest challenge. But when we figured that out, it became a lot easier.”
As an independent financial company, Credit Simple has a great opportunity to disrupt the sector and push the banks and the energy companies to do better, Stevenson said.
“We can be a bit cheeky and really push them to offer better deals to customers,” she said. “We want to shake things up and we're going to do that more and more. We really consider ourselves the Uber of the credit industry financial world. We want to be sitting in the middle and we want consumers to understand that if they've got a good credit score, that they can actually pick and choose their provider, not the other way round.”
Getting the marketing function right from the start
For marketing leaders working in fast-paced startup environments, Stevenson said the key is making sure you get processes right from the get go.
“It’s so fast paced and you move so quickly, you need to have those processes in place and create a culture at the same time,” she said. “And bringing everyone else along on the journey has been a big part of it for us.”
You need to also make sure you have the right technology, the right tools and the right system from the outset, she said.
“Take the time to really what is the best way to moving forward,” she said. “Because when you grow so fast, you're going to need those tools to actually be able to keep up and help you get there. Otherwise, you have to go back and fix it all. And that takes even more time – that you really don't have.”
Stevenson leads a team of four, with a fifth being newly recruited. But despite the fast-paced environment, she still takes time to take a step back to ensure she’s creating a consistent culture.
“There's lots of opportunity to grow and lead and innovate, and I feel we can definitely create a culture that's based on flexibility and diversity - that helps us redefine the status quo which is what we're trying to do as a fintech startup,” she said.
Coming from a strong background in in digital marketing, including social media and mobile strategy, Stevenson has held marketing roles in a range of innovative businesses. Her resume includes digital marketing manager for hospitality group, Merivale, marketing manager for online business, LivingSocial, marketing channel manager for Vision6 and international digital marketing manager for Servcorp.
It’s this strong digital marketing background and leading marketing in larger companies that has given her valuable insights in moving the marketing function forward in a digital-first fintech startup.
“I met David, our CEO, and his passion for the business and his understanding of credit scores and the industry really drew me to Credit Simple,” Stevenson said. “The idea of leading marketing in a startup and creating marketing from scratch really appealed to me. I really wanted to work in a business that added value to Aussies and made a positive difference in people's lives.
“One of the best things about working at Credit Simple is that while the fintech world is very much male dominated, it’s not with us. Three of the heads are women and 50 per cent of our businesses is women, which is fantastic. So diversity and equality has been really important to us as well, which I think also creates that dynamic, innovative culture.”