How to Market Your Fintech Startup

Financial technologies, commonly shortened to fintech, provide customers with alternative delivery methods for financial services. Fintech’s goal is to improve the delivery and use of financial services. Fintech includes everything from cryptocurrencies to online financial advisors to payment solutions like PayPal. With over 5,000 fintech startups introduced in February 2019 in the Americas alone and the global fintech market reaching $111.8 billion in 2018, fintech is one of the fastest-growing industries around. Due to the sheer size of the fintech industry, it’s important to have a stellar marketing strategy so your business stands out in an oversaturated market. Here we explore effective ways of marketing your fintech startup. 

Educate your audience

Financial services can be boring and difficult to understand for non-professionals. It can also be difficult to find resources to explain complicated topics. A recent study shows that 45 per cent of millennials want products and services to help them handle their finances, however, 37 per cent were unable to find resources online. This is where you come in. By creating content that explains various financial concepts or services, you’re providing value for potential customers even before they purchase your service or product. Creating content that’s relevant to your target audience helps establish trust which is essential for any business, especially when dealing with personal finances. .

Think specifically about your business and ask yourself “what kinds of questions might your target audience ask when they’re looking for your business?” It could also be useful to create a list of keywords people are likely to use when looking into your product or service. Create content that answers the most relevant and confusing questions related to your business but remember not overwhelm your audience with jargon. The purpose of your content should be to help people make informed decisions and to increase your business’ visibility. Visual content, like infographics and videos, plus keywords and questions relevant to your target audience will improve your SEO ranking.

Infographic courtesy of Napala Pratini /  fin.plaid.com.

The power of visual content

When it comes to creating content to explain your fintech product or service, video and other visual media are more effective than text. Humans remember 80 per cent of the things we see compared to all other stimuli, and visuals are processed 600,000 times faster than text. Visual content is also more efficient than text for taking in information simply because it takes less time to view something than it does to read. That partially explains why visual posts on social media earn 650 times more engagement than text-only posts.

According to Digital World Solutions, 51.9 per cent of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the content with the best ROI. Taking a visual approach to marketing ensures that your brand gets to your target audience’s visual memory and stays there, boosting brand recall. There’s also a level of credibility associated with visual media that text doesn’t have. People are 85 per cent more likely to buy a product after viewing a product video and including video on a landing page can increase conversion rates by 80 per cent. And if you’re using Facebook or Twitter, be sure to post the videos directly to the platform; native video has an 86 per cent higher reach than YouTube links.

Make your website mobile-friendly

If you’re a fintech start-up hoping to attract new business, optimizing your website for mobile-friendly browsing is a must. While word-of-mouth is a great tool to increase awareness of your company, you need to be easy for new customers to find to build lasting success. A recent American study revealed that people spend an average of five hours on their mobile phones per day. Also, more than 50 per cent of all online searching occurs through mobile devices. Making your website mobile-friendly will help to improve your Google search ranking and increase your conversion rates. 

Mobile technologies are all about speed and convenience, so you need to make sure your website is optimized for mobile. With all of the options available to people online, if finding information is difficult on your site, potential customers will look for answers elsewhere. Make sure your website is easy to navigate, aesthetically pleasing and loads quickly. Remember to use visual marketing aids like videos and infographics, keep your copy short, simple and concise.

Engage your audience

Engaging with customers must be a key component of your fintech start-up’s marketing strategy. People want to know they can trust the companies they’re supporting, especially in the financial sphere. Simple human connection goes a long way in establishing trust, people want to feel heard. Some larger companies don’t bother with customer engagement so it’s an opportunity to fill a void. Be active on social media; reply to comments and mentions, respond to reviews—both good and bad—and answer questions. By engaging with your customers, you’re showing them—and potential customers—that you genuinely care about their business. The goodwill they feel towards your company may encourage them to make future purposes. Plus, engaging with your target audience via social media is an inexpensive way to promote your business and increase brand recognition. 

It costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain one so it’s vital to continue to educate and provide valuable content for your pre-existing customers. Your early supporters are likely to be your most loyal so be sure to treat them well. Small gestures like a birthday or thank you messages and discounts can go a long way to endearing your brand to customers. They help create a relationship between your business and your customers and denotes a positive company culture. Overdeliver where you’re able.

Don’t adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to social media marketing, find out where your target audience is most active and dedicate a majority of your marketing efforts to that platform. You may develop different marketing strategies for different social media, just remember to be active and be authentic. People will criticize and ignore messages that seem disingenuous.

Starting a Consultation Business

The job market is changing. More and more people are exploring entrepreneurship as a career or a side hustle, for passion or necessity. According to Intuit Canada, 45 per cent of Canada’s job market will be made up of self-employed people by 2020. This is worrying given that 30 per cent of small businesses fail within five years of entering the marketplace and nearly 7000 businesses go bankrupt every year in Canada. The main reason these businesses fail is due to a lack of planning and inexperienced management, according to an Industry Canada study.

A consultant is an expert in a particular field who gives professional advice to entrepreneurs and businesses to help their businesses thrive. As the number of small businesses increases so too does the need for consultants. If you’re looking to start your own consulting business, these are things you’ll want to know.

Identify your area of expertise

There are several different kinds of consultants, business, legal, marketing, and technical are a few examples. The first thing you’ll want to do when starting a consulting business is to figure out what your strengths and areas of expertise are. It’s important to be honest with your self-assessment, ask yourself questions like “is there a demand for this service?” and “do I have a unique point of view?” You should consider areas you excel in at work, hobbies you’ve mastered or other areas of interest as the focus of your consulting business. Whatever niche you choose it should be one you enjoy, especially if you’re consulting full-time.

Other valuable assets for a consultant to have include good communication and interpersonal skills, strong time management abilities, sound organizational skills and acute critical and analytical thinking. Whether it’s software, cutting-edge information or professional certifications, it’s crucial to find out what’s important in your industry and expand your knowledge in that area.

Get certified

The licenses and certifications required for you to start your consulting business will depend on which field you specialize in. Consulting for certain fields, like real estate or engineering, requires you to get special licenses, for legal and competitive purposes. In other fields, it’s common for consultants to hold special designations such as a CGA (Certified General Accountant) or a CPA (Chartered Professional Accountant). The Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation is the only international certification for consultants, it’s recognized in over 40 countries.

Most municipal governments will require you to have a municipal business permit even if you’re working from home. Starting a consulting business doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to start and register a corporation, in many cases you can simply work as a sole proprietor. Also, register your business with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) if you plan to hire employees or will make more than $30,000 a year in profit. Regulations vary from one jurisdiction to the next so it’s wise to contact your local government business agent. BizPaL, a partnership between multiple levels of government, is designed to streamline access to information on certifications, licenses and other permits you may need.

To compete with other consultants, it’s helpful to know what qualifications employers are looking for. Most employers require consultants to have a minimum of two years of working experience or a bachelor’s degree majoring in a subject like business, accounting, marketing or finance.

Find your target audience

If you’re an insurance consultant, it’s not enough to say that your target audience is people looking for insurance. You need a clear idea of who your target audience is and how to best serve them if you’re going to be a successful consultant. Consider the following questions when trying to narrow down your target audience: where is your target audience (are they local or global), what are the biggest challenges they face, why are they seeking your help, who is their competition, what makes you unique, what are your clients end goals?

It’s important to match your skills to your prospective clients, particularly when you’re just starting your business. Don’t be afraid to say no if you don’t think you’re a good fit for the task. If possible, recommend the client to someone who’s a better fit for their needs. Also, beware of spreading yourself too thin in the early stages of your business, it’s better to avoid doing too much than lose sight of what your business your does best.

Networking

Networking means connecting with people involved in your industry as well as having a digital presence to connect with potential customers. A recent Local Search Association report finds that 63 per cent of consumers use websites to find or engage with businesses, and 30 per cent of them won’t consider a business without a website. Also, Google gives your business more authority in local rankings if you have a website — be sure to make it SEO (search engine optimization) compliant. Services like WordPress and Squarespace make building a website easy, and you can secure a domain name through services like GoDaddy.

Networking and referrals are crucial for building your business so consider joining Facebook or LinkedIn groups that your target audience might frequent. It could be useful to develop an outreach strategy. Writing and sharing posts will make you familiar with the community and vice versa, allow you to show your expertise and keep you in the know with events, workshops and networking opportunities.

Set your rates

It’s easy to charge less than you’re worth when you’re new to consulting, especially with no proven results. Your best bet is to first research what consultants in your field are charging in your local area, sites like Glassdoor.com can help with this. It’s important to be realistic and also to remain competitive when setting your rates. You’ll want to figure out if you’re charging clients an hourly rate, by day, by project, based on their goals or by some other measure. Consider how you’ll bill your clients and how you’ll accept payment. Platforms such as Freshbooks, Invoicely and Due allow you to automate billing cycles, track and manage invoices and payments and run reports on your earnings.

Mental Health for Entrepreneurs

This article was originally published in The Edge: A Leaders Magazine.

Entrepreneurs are known for pouring themselves into their businesses. Long days, hours spent alone and making tough personal sacrifices are not uncommon for entrepreneurs. They often put their businesses before themselves which negatively affects their mental well-being. Several studies have shown that entrepreneurs experience high rates of stress and mental health issues like depression, anxiety and substance abuse. 72 percent of entrepreneurs have reported mental health concerns compared to 7 percent of the general public. On top of that, every year one in five Canadians experiences a mental health problem or illness. These instances cost the economy more than $50 billion. Mental health issues have a huge economic and emotional toll, here are some tips for managing your mental health.

Mental Strength is Good Mental Health

Don’t fall for the “never-not-working” mentality. It shouldn’t be a point of pride, and it does more harm than good. According to Fortune magazine, 30 percent of startups fail due to “founder’s blues.” If a business’s founder loses their passion, focus, or suffers from burnout, the business won’t succeed. The mental and emotional state of an entrepreneur is vital. It’s important to balance your work with eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly.

Your business might be time-consuming, but it shouldn’t consume your personhood. Avoid thoughts like “I don’t know who I am if not the founder of ____” or equating your value with your business’ success. Both these notions are manifestations of perfectionism which can damage self-esteem, cause anxiety and emotional turmoil.

Be gentle with yourself, and remember, your thoughts should motivate you. Mental exercises like reciting positive affirmations and doctrines like “The Four Agreements” can strengthen your mental resolve.

Repeating these words regularly makes the beliefs easier to internalize and call upon in moments of doubt.

Shift Your Thinking to Regain Focus

Entrepreneurs often have a lot on their minds, both business-related and personal. It can be difficult to focus on your work—or perform at your best—if you’re feeling anxious or depressed. Especially if your work is what’s causing you to feel anxious or depressed. Shifting your focus can get you out of a low-mood situation and help establish better mental health practices.

The 23-minute routine is a mindfulness technique meant to be done shortly after waking to ensure a positive start to the day. The routine consists of writing about a positive experience from the previous day, expressing gratitude via text or e-mail, writing about three things from yesterday that went well and why, 5 minutes of cardio, and taking two minutes to breathe. The routine is supposed to calm you, centre you, and turn your focus away from stressors. By recalling what brings you joy you’re forcing your brain to think positively. Thinking deeply about what makes you happy will also make you more likely to pursue those things.

Inserting purposeful breaks into your work schedule can also be beneficial. The Pomodoro method is a popular productivity technique in which users work in 25-minute intervals followed by 5-minute breaks with every third break being 15-30 minutes. Working in short sprints trains your brain to focus quickly and can help improve your concentration and attention span. Also, regular breaks bolster motivation and increase creativity.

Avoid Burnout

Research shows that exercise is effective for treating mild to moderate depression. A 20-minute walk or jog can improve your mood for 12 hours. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins interact with receptors in the brain that reduce one’s perception of pain and trigger a feeling in the body. Regular exercise has been proven to: increase energy levels, improve sleep, reduce stress, boost self-esteem, and ward off feelings of anxiety and depression.

Exercising with people or joining a sports team can be even more beneficial. Social support and interaction are good for our health, particularly if struggling with depression. Making time for friends and hobbies is important too, even if you’re busy.

Entrepreneurs often engage in networking and sales-focused conversations. Neither ideal for genuine connection nor vulnerability. Many entrepreneurs pride themselves on appearing to “have it all together.” This is known as impression management. Impression management contributes to isolation, insecurity and identity confusion.

Surround yourself with people you can truly be yourself around. Use your network to connect with other entrepreneurs and people with non-traditional careers.

How Canadian Businesses Can Benefit From A Growing Single Population

This article was originally published in The Edge: A Leaders Magazine.

With more and more people putting off marriage, getting divorced, outliving their
spouses and choosing not to date, there are tonnes of single people out there.
According to the 2016 census, one-person households are the most common living
arrangement in Canada for the first time in history. And while that might sound
concerning for the population of this country, it is good news for businesses. Society is
geared towards families even though the single demographic is one of the
fastest-growing in Canada and around the world. If businesses could tap into that
growing market, it could be hugely profitable. Here, The Edge takes you through some
of the ways businesses can benefit from a burgeoning single population.

Adjust your business or service

More and more travel companies are adjusting their services to accommodate single
people and solo travellers. Tracey Nesbitt, the editor of Solo Traveler magazine, says that
demand for solo travel has exploded among millennials and baby boomers, particularly
for women. Some travel companies have responded to the increased interest by
offering more single rooms and waiving singles supplement charges. Some companies offer communal dining tables and happy hour reception while allowing
solo travellers to pair up in rooms and even meet before the journey electronically.
Since launching in 2015, Transat’s collection of solo packages has nearly doubled. It
includes 19 sun destinations, 39 resorts in 10 countries and welcomes about 8,000 solo
travellers a year.

Adjusting your product or service to suit the needs of a shifting population can positively
impact your business. For example, Canadian supermarket chains have dedicated more
floor space to ready-made food because it appeals to busy, well-off singles. Also, food
packaged in smaller portions is more likely to satisfy a single diner than a family of four.
These adjustments “serve a market and substantially increases margins” says professor
of food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University, Sylvain Charlebois. On the
flipside, because singles are more likely to dine out, packaged foods need to be tastier
and more appealing. Restaurants also need to consider the solo diner when creating
their menus.

Businesses related to housing and housing-affiliated products should also be mindful of
changing trends. Nearly 4 million Canadians live alone and 28 per cent of those 4
million live in condominiums, according to Statistics Canada. The growing number
Canadians living alone has coincided with the increase in condominium construction. If you’re in the real estate or housing development business, you could create more
single-person units to get more business.

Marketing to singles

Single people tend to have more free time and disposable income than people in
relationships. As one of the fastest-growing demographics in Canada, businesses
should capitalize on the marketing opportunity. To market to singles, you need
to understand them. However, unlike most demographic groups, singles are not defined
by age, income or gender so there’s no one-size-fits-all marketing model. For example,
the two largest groups of singles are 18-24-year-olds who’ve never been married and
people 55 and older who are widowed or divorced. These are two very different groups
with very different needs and must be marketed to accordingly.
Be mindful of how you portray singlehood and the risks involved with poor marketing.
Don’t frame singlehood as negative or as a case of “not being able to find a partner.”
According to Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist at New York University and author of Going
Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, singlehood is an
empowering choice. “Living alone helps us pursue sacred modern values — individual
freedom, personal control, and self-realization,” he writes. Marketing to singles can be
as simple as not excluding them when marketing to families. Seemingly-small steps like
not having every adult in an ad or commercial wearing a wedding ring can go a long
way.

Take advantage of trends

In addition to being a fast-growing demographic with extra disposable income, singles
are economically powerful because they influence buying decisions. Single people are
more connected through social media than others, spending almost 30 more minutes a
week socializing than married people according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics.
“Evidence suggests that people who live alone compensate by becoming more socially
active,” Klinenberg writes. CEO of marketing firm Dragon Rouge US, Pearse McCabe, says single people are more likely to share brands, recommendations and marketing messages. “Those people are very important nodes in the communication and marketing networks,” McCabe said.

You can utilize the social and economic power of singletons by combining marketing
directed at them with social media incentives. Giveaways, contests and hashtags are great ways to engage people online, help them interact with each other and attract new
people to your business.

5 Tips To Grow Your E-Commerce Business

Starting an e-commerce business is no small task; many demands need to be met—both temporal and financial—several decisions to be made and other factors that need to align for your business to be a success. Whether you’re supplementing a traditional brick-and-mortar operation with an online presence or your business exists solely in the digital realm, it’s important to know the best practices to help your business grow. Here we take a look at the top 5 strategies for growing your business online.

Understanding SEO

Search engine optimization, or SEO, means structuring your online content in such a way to increase your business’s chances of appearing higher on the list of results for search engines. It’s impossible to control search results completely but there are small aspects you can control like making sure your website is mobile-friendly and being present on social media. Other things to keep in mind when it comes to SEO are including concise titles, keywords and descriptions in your posts. Remember, every business is different so what SEO strategies will work for you will depend on the type of business you have.

Build your online reputation

One of the best ways to build your business’s reputation online is through positive customer testimonials. Positive reviews about your business are a sign of its trustworthiness and are critical for your business’s success. According to a 2018 consumer review survey by BrightLocal, 97% of customers read online reviews before they buy and 57% of people will only use a business with 4 or more stars. Not only are these positive testimonials almost as good as personal recommendations, they also increase your business’s SEO-ranking and therefore its visibility.

Search engines will reward your business if it appears as though you have hoards of
customers who are satisfied with your product or service, which in turn will lead more customers to you. This is especially important if your target demographic is millennials (18-34) as 80% of them have written a testimonial and 95% of them read reviews for local businesses.

Invest your time wisely and know when to invest

When you first start a business, you usually end up taking on a majority of the workload
because you have to. As your business grows there become more and more tasks that need to be completed but still only 24 hours to work with. By utilizing tools like Hootsuite and Buffer, business owners can automate their social media posting, which is hugely important but time-consuming. There are also tools like QuickBooks, which provide accounting software capable of accepting payments, bill management and payroll functions. While QuickBooks is not free, it’s value comes from the time that you’ll save that can be put towards other important business functions and ensuring the work is done professionally and efficiently.

Another option to consider as your business grows is outsourcing to deal with an increased workload. Online marketplaces like Fiverr and Freelancer.com are convenient, easy to use and help lead you to professionals with a variety of skills that can be hired for short-term work. As the old adage goes, you gotta spend money to make money.

Get into your customer’s heads

Understanding human psychology is a powerful tool in business and marketing. If you
understand how people think and what they react to, you can reach them more effectively. From relatively simple things like what colours people associate with certain traits and emotions, to understanding how to use language to affect the way people think of something, psychology can be used to help grow your business. Social Proof is a psychological phenomenon where people conform to the actions of others because they believe those actions are reflective of the correct behaviour. Marketers, for example, use this phenomenon by showing their customers that people already like and trust their business. They do this by sharing their statistics, subscriber counts, customer testimonials among other things.

FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is a psychological term used to describe the anxiety people feel about missing out on something trendy or exciting. Businesses can take advantage of that to increase sales and conversions by adding scarcity or
exclusivity to your offers.

Take your business global

For most entrepreneurs, their first target market is their immediate geographical area. However, one of the best ways to grow your e-commerce business is to appeal to a global audience and the internet makes it easier to do that. If you plan on making your e-commerce business global, you must do your research on: how shoppers purchase goods online when are seasonal sales peaks and holidays, local and international laws, shipping and distribution logistics among other things. Make sure you have an understanding of cultural customs, taboos and trends before you try to establish an online presence in another country.

E-commerce platforms like BigCommerce allow your e-commerce shop to operate in over 150 countries, display in almost any language and accept payments in most currencies. Meanwhile, gateways like PayPal and Stripe allow users to simply and accurately pay in their own currency without transaction fees. PayPal Passport is also a great resource for finding more information on how to bring your business to the world.

Luxury & Lifestyle Trends for 2019

Consumer habits are changing, and experts found that people are more interested in
experiences than brands or products. People are searching for things that are exclusive,
memorable and unique to complement their lifestyles. Whether it’s a product or a
service, something to make your life easier or just to make it more enjoyable, here’s a
look at some exciting trends for you to indulge in this year.

Year of the electric car

cars parked in front of company building

Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

It’s predicted that every major car maker will have an electric car on the market, in
showrooms ​or in production by 2020. Tesla is expected to release its highly-anticipated
base Model 3 this year, ​and two new cars in 2020. ​Even luxury car makers like Porsche,
Aston Martin and Mercedes-Benz are joining the electric revolution. The 2020
Mercedes-Benz EQC crossover marks the beginning of the Mercedes-EQ sub-brand of
vehicles with an electric ecosystem and is being touted as the most important vehicle
from the company in decades. Meanwhile, there’s an air of exclusivity about the 2020
Aston Martin Rapide E. Developed in collaboration with Williams Advanced Engineering,
each car will be fitted with Pirelli P Zero tyres developed specifically for the Rapide E.
Not to mention only 155 sedans will be manufactured.

Antarctic adventure

 

eclipse-main

A Scenic Eclipse Cruise Ship. Photo courtesy of Scenic Canada.

If you’re searching for an unconventional vacation experience this year look no further
than an adventure cruise on board the Scenic Eclipse. On the world’s first discovery
yacht you’ll experience the wonders of the Antarctic up close. With voyages limited to
200 guests, you’ll enjoy an exclusive cruise which includes helicopter rides, submarine
expeditions as well as specialist-lead Kayak excursions. The cruise is as lavish as it is
adventurous with each passenger having a premium verandah suite, with upgrade
options that include spa suites and private butler service.

 

 

Work smarter, not harder

JAXJOX-KettlebellConnect-Product-Shots-31

The KettlebellConnect by JAXKOX.  Photo courtesy of JAXJOX.

Incorporating technology into your workout is the perfect way to combine brains and
brawn, and there are plenty of smart devices to help you reach your fitness goals from
FitBits to self-tying shoes. The innovative features of JAXJOX’s KettlebellConnect
makes working out more efficient. For starters, it has 6-cylinder weights inside it which
can be adjusted to weigh between 12 and 42 pounds. Motion sensors enable it to
accurately track movements, count reps and automatically sync data with the
corresponding app. Plus it can create profiles for up to nine users and if you subscribe
to JAXJOX’s subscription service you gain access to live fitness classes. If boxing is
more your style, FightCamp’s smart fitness system is designed so you can box at home.
The kit includes gloves, a punching bag, hand wraps and an exercise mat and signing
up for FightCamp’s subscription gives users workouts via the iOS app. The app can be
used to track your “punch count” and keep track of your breaks.
So whether you’re shedding winter weight or getting beach-ready, these tools will help
you get the best workout.

 

 

Brilliant watches

Watches from Ulysse Nardin’s FREAK collection are coveted for their beauty
and the innovative materials used to make them, the Skeleton X is no
exception. An aeronautical-grade forged carbon called Carbonium is used to
make the watches, the same material used to build aircraft. And because it’s 95% sourced from carbon by-products, it’s eco-friendly. The skeleton dial forms an X with four of the indexes and is framed within a rectangle, showing off the watch’s intricate details. There are four case materials available for the Skeleton X, titanium with black DLC, rose gold, and an entirely new Carbonium GOLD. The Carbonium GOLD interweaves gold fibres which give it a wavy effect.

 

RJ_ARRAW_6919_Titanium__RG_1000

The RJ ARRAW 6919 in rose gold and titanium. Photo courtesy of WatchTime.

 

The materials used in the RJ ARRAW 6919 as equally impressive. To celebrate
the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, the Geneva-based company
included parts of the original spacecraft in the bezel of the watch. The material,
which was created from the lunar and command modules of the Apollo 11, is
fixed to the case by a metal grid. The grid is available in polished and
satin-brushed grade 5 titanium, ceramic and 5N+ red gold.