Peggy Olson, founder and Principal of payment consulting firm Strategic Marketing, formed the company in October 2009 for two reasons: to provide comprehensive, strategic marketing services to payment organizations that had neither the financial wherewithal nor the staff to handle those functions and to remediate clients' pain points associated with marketing their brands, products and services.
"I'd experienced some frustration utilizing outside agencies for marketing help before starting Strategic Marketing," Olson said. "Those organizations understand marketing mechanics and the creative side of the business, but they don't get the payments industry. There are a lot of stakeholders, a complex value chain as well as a wide variety of technologies employed. Additionally, there's a huge learning curve for these agencies in getting up to speed to create meaningful and on-target marketing programs. A lot of companies can make any campaign look pretty, but it only means something if it gets results."
Strategic Marketing offers a full range of services to all types of payment businesses. The company's offerings encompass buy-in, marketing, planning and communications strategies for any payment organization. Olson said she can help companies design logos, create Web sites and initial messaging channels, write press releases and media announcements - in her words, "manage the gamut of organizations and their marketing needs from soup to nuts." Olson, who is the former Vice President of Marketing and Communications for TSYS Acquiring Solutions and a 15-year industry veteran, added that her experience working with major payment processors, terminal manufacturers and value-added resellers was instrumental in the development of Strategic Marketing's business model.
"I've had the opportunity to work with so many great people over the years and was repeatedly asked, 'Can we put together a marketing plan and do something jointly as companies or utilize your services?'" Olson said. "This was from little start-up ISOs to large financial institutions working on a product launch, a special initiative or an acquisition and wanting to get all their ducks in a row without involving internal teams."
Strategic Marketing pairs payments industry experts with top creative marketing talent to optimize the results of each company's marketing and media plans. Olson identifies the best opportunities for individual companies and finds the best industry professionals for those clients. She feels it is critical for payment organizations to clearly define and then articulate their value propositions through all communication channels and vehicles.
"You need to constantly give the same message over and over - who you are, what you do, what value you bring to your customers," she said. "Secondly, companies need to have an in-depth and realistic marketing plan that is backed by executive approval and funding to make sure it becomes a reality. You'd be surprised how many companies shoot from the hip when it comes to marketing. It's a hit or miss approach; as a result, many companies never achieve a return on investment."
Olson noted that Strategic Marketing has been getting inquiries on developing annual marketing plans for 2010 and how to best market ancillary products and services that demonstrate their tangible benefits to a merchant's bottom line. "Whether companies are looking for Web site overhauls, lead generation channels or public relations solutions, we feel we can help them achieve rapid results," Olson said. "It's been very rewarding thus far to have people reaching out to me about Strategic Marketing's business model. So I believe what we're doing now, combined with my previous experiences in marketing, will prove to be a winning combination."
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