It’s been 11 years since I wrote my first blog post. Since then, I’ve written thousands more, and on top of that, I’ve penned several thousand more types of online content for real estate agents, lawyers, small businesses of various stripes, and even marketplace lenders. A little over a year ago, I began working as editor at Lending-Times, curating the daily news digest, which focuses on highlighting the top news of the day in the alternative lending niche. I’ve got to say, editing the news in that space keeps me on my toes, but it also gives me something of an opportunity to see which companies are deploying solid content marketing tactics in order to acquire new customers.
Admittedly, not all online marketing strategies are practical for alternative lenders. When it comes down to where the rubber meets the road, small lenders are competing with bigger pockets that often have the budget to run multiple pay-per-click campaigns and a strong ongoing content strategy. Alternative lenders have to get creative just to get a small cut of a huge pie.
That’s why I’ve come up with the following list of online marketing tactics for alternative lenders. Whatever your specialty may be within the niche, your content strategy must be affordable, efficient, accessible, and effective. With some creativity and hard work, you can make it so. Now, without further ado, I present these three online marketing tips for alternative lenders.
1. Inbound Marketing 101: Get Them to Come to You
The most cost-effective way to market any product or service is to not have to market it at all. Since that isn’t possible, or practical, for most businesses–and for alternative lenders in particular–the next best thing is to minimize expenses by using the “pull” method versus the more traditional “push” method of last century’s marketing models.
With traditional marketing systems, the idea is to push your way into where your audience is spending their time and making a presentation when they aren’t expecting you to do so. Seth Godin calls this type of marketing “interruption marketing.” Companies buy television ads or radio spots, send a salesman to knock on doors, or call the head of the house at dinner time to make a sales pitch and hope the receiver responds positively. Most don’t. The alternative is to get the prospect to come to you. It’s less costly, less time consuming, and creates less friction. Plus, it’s much more effective in identifying and qualifying the prospect.
All inbound marketing begins with a website, or the hub of your online marketing strategy. Essentially, this is where you want to draw, or “pull,” your prospect into.
Beyond that, you create multiple pieces of content designed to position you as an authority in your niche and publish that content where your ideal customer is likely to be looking. Maybe that’s Facebook, or LinkedIn, if your ideal client is a business. It could be at Medium, Huffington Post, or an industry news portal such as Crowdfund Insider, Lending-Times, or Equities.com. Once you create content that wows your prospect, they look for more places to find you and ultimately end up on your website.
2. White Paper or Special Report: What Candy Does My Prospect Like?
If you want your prospect to give you their contact information, you’ll need to present them an offer. That usually entails an ethical bribe. Instead of slapping them in the face with a sales pitch, make them an offer they can’t refuse–give them something that won’t cost them any money but that you have put some time and expense into. That something has to have a perceived value to your ideal customer, enough perceived value that he or she would be willing to part with a little bit of personal information in order to get it. Typically, that’s an email address.
There are all sorts of different ways to make that exchange offer. If you’re a consultant, you might offer 15 or 20 minutes of free consulting in exchange for a phone number. Or, if you provide analytics for investors, offer them a test drive of your platform in exchange for their email address.
I’ve found that B2B audiences respond well to white papers. B2C audiences do better with special reports. They are essentially the same thing, but they have a different name because most consumers of consumer products don’t know what a white paper is, but they do know what a special report is. The idea is to objectively discuss a problem your prospect is facing and to present the solution to that problem using facts and statistics from third-party sources demonstrating that you are an authority on the subject and can be trusted. If you do this well, your prospect will be happy to give you their email address in exchange for that white paper or special report. Then you can use that email address to start a conversation with them and lead them to a sale.
In 2015, Eccolo Media conducted a survey of B2B technology buyers and found that white papers are the second most influential type of content when it comes to making buying decisions. I can’t think of any better reason to use them for reaching B2B audiences.
3. Blog, But Don’t Make It All About Yourself
One of the biggest mistakes alternative lenders make is to excessively write about themselves or their product on their blog. Instead, write about your prospects, their problems, what keeps them up at night, and the solutions to what ails them. It’s very simple to understand why this works, but it’s not quite as easy as simply stating it. That’s why not everyone does it.
If you have a company blog, I commend you. Turn your blog into a powerful marketing tool by doing these three things:
- Conduct keyword research to see what people are looking for, then write about that
- Talk conversationally about topics related to alternative lending, especially your small corner of it
- And make it visually appealing
If you want examples of blogs within the alternative lending ecosystem that do a great job at meeting these minimum expectations, here are four of them:
- PeerIQ – PeerIQ’s weekly updates are insightful, graphical, and deep.
- Sharestates – Regular useful content for real estate investors and sponsors. Full disclosure: I write for Sharestates.
- Kabbage – Almost every post is crafted to help SMBs run their businesses more effectively.
- NerdWallet – NerdWallet wants to be all things finance. And they are. Branded, with personality, and useful to a broad audience.
Are you looking for a fintech writer? I specialize in fintech and alternative lending content. Call me at 717-253-2306 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you ready to boost your authority? Looking for ways to expand your reach and deliver the best content for your niche audience? Download my free report, “7 Types of Authority Content“. Learn the seven types of content that will keep your audience coming back for more and instantly make you an authority they can rely on.