This installment of Meet the Expert features Nancy Drexler, who has imparted significant marketing know-how to payment pros over the years through articles in The Green Sheet and via presentations at industry events.
After directing marketing campaigns for some of the biggest names in acquiring as an outside strategic marketing expert, and later as an in-house marketing director for such companies as SignaPay Ltd. and Merchant Cash and Capital LLC, Drexler founded her own firm, Acquired Marketing, in 2010. As President of the company, she oversees all work produced and meets regularly with each client.
I actually began my career with companies like YMCA and Better Homes and Gardens, and PC magazine. It was when I went to the Impressions marketing agency that I got the clients you mention and, yes, there certainly was a learning curve (what's an acquirer?).
But there was also tremendous opportunity, as very little marketing was being done in the payments arena at that time. It really gave us the chance to stand out and set the bar.
It's a challenge to differentiate a product or service in an industry where everything is pretty much the same. And it's precisely that challenge that I love most.
I spent most of my life in NYC and its suburbs, but I found it pretty easy adjusting to Dallas. Much easier traveling to all the regional shows!
Before I speak with a prospect, I take a look at all the marketing I can find for that niche. That gives me a sense of what needs to be done to really stand out and move markets in that particular niche.
Then I speak with the prospect and anyone else from the company who might be able to add insight. We basically talk SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats): what are the product/company/service's strengths, weaknesses and differentiators; what are the main objections/hurdles to a sale; what are the company's immediate and longer-term sales goals. I also speak with ISOs and agents I know to get a real sense of whether or not they would be interested in the product or service, and what would make it most appealing.
From there, I draw up a very individualized plan and budget, and review it with the client. It is up to the client to determine how much or how little they are ready to do. I like to create a situation where the marketing begins to pay for itself. As we roll out campaigns, we measure results and continue to adjust the work to reflect what we learn.
An ad campaign or email blast can take as little as one to two days. But in order to really make an impression and affect behavior, you have to stay in front of an audience. You have to build attention and perception, and that takes time. Good marketing fits together – pieces all work together to communicate a single brand and benefit package. Ideally, the effectiveness of each outbound communication is measured, and future messaging is tweaked accordingly. A strong campaign can last a year or more. If a campaign is truly working, there is no need to change it until the competitive environment or market needs change. Think Mastercard "priceless."
I am a bit of a control freak, and so I find it challenging to have my reputation dependent upon the work of others. That's why I keep my client base small and do most of the writing myself. But I do work with a variety of freelance designers. In that arena, some are better with print and some are better with digital. Some are more expensive than others. Some are more available. The benefit is that I can choose the right designer for each job.
Significantly. When I started, we were totally focused on ISOs, and the best way to reach them was to advertise in the The Green Sheet. At Cynergy Data, a good ad would generate 50 to 70 inbound calls. It was incredible! Today, we are focused more on vertical markets and niches and, of course, ISVs. We have to combine a variety of media channels in order to build brand. That means not just print, but also digital, events, promotions, speaking, etc. Lastly, because the industry has become so commoditized, we have to develop brand "personalities" to differentiate ourselves and be memorable.
At the risk of sounding harsh, nothing matters except the perception of the target audience. Your opinions don't matter; what I think and feel is irrelevant. Good marketers ignore their own needs and instead focus on the needs and perceptions of their target customers.
Last year, for instance, I saw a countless number of social media posts, emails, landing pages and direct mail with the headline, "EMV is coming." As a merchant, my response is, "So what? Why should I care?" EMV was actually a great opportunity for ISOs and ISVs to reconnect with clients, upsell products, approach new customers and improve their brand. But they made the mistake of focusing on their own need to alert merchants about EMV without considering merchant need. A good communication is geared to the receiver of the information. That means: someone who probably doesn't know what EMV is; probably doesn't care what EMV is; is too busy to learn what EMV is; and, doesn't trust anything coming from a payment processor anyway.
Off the top of my head, here are some examples:
Good marketing is good marketing, regardless of the industry. Though there is an exception to every rule, the rules generally remain the same. Here are some of mine:
What is exciting about being a marketing agency is that you get to work with new and different clients all the time. I enjoy meeting new people and conquering new objectives. It pushes me to be as creative as possible.
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