A few days ago I visited a small company in the FinTech sector. The company has weathered the first wave in the binary options world. If you are not familiar with new waves in the internet space, hold on tight. The first wave of competing with dozens of small new companies is a rough ride. In some sectors, like the binary options about five years ago (2008 to 2010) the attrition rate is phenomenal. Just keeping alive is hard. Exiting with an acquisition is fairly rare (maybe one out of twenty) and going public is even more impressive. So a company which goes public, then changes ownership, and keeps on going, has something to be proud of. This is the case of this start-up. But success in this case came at a cost. While other companies were creating content, affiliate programs or developing platforms to market as “white label” products, this one focused on direct sales. Not just direct sales with email campaigns, but good old phone banks. They have about 100 sales agents going at it twelve to sixteen hours a day. They sell the hard way, offering incredible returns of 20% to 50% per month on binary options. Most of the deposits come from people who do not understand exactly what binary options or even stock market price changes really mean to speculators. It seems like an end of an era for this market sub-sector. When sales do not work organically or with advertising, the hard sell people get their chance to make the last push. This sales technique is nothing short of 1950s American mid-west magazine subscription and life insurance scene. It’s seductive to use traditional marketing techniques which yield steady predictable results. The same can be said for advertising (AdWords, ad networks), direct mail (list swapping & renting) and even webinar (video and screen cast with chat) campaigns. But the traditional techniques lose out when new habits shift consumer behavior. The shift from personal one-on-one to digital sales techniques is steadily taking over. Experienced executives in traditional marketing methods are easier to find. They have less products to sell and are competing for fewer positions. They are also more predictable, a call center manager with B2C experience, can show tangible historical results. This is not always true today with new products in new market sectors.
New Techniques & Newer Skills
Blogging, social media groups and integrated (mashed) marketing are just starting to show tangible results in traditional markets. This is especially true in the financial B2C world. There are very few companies investing and getting results there. But the ones who have invested and developed marketing channels, can compete with traditional marketing techniques. This was somewhat clear when seeing a room full of sales agents on the phones at this binary options start-up. Most sales efforts are still in the area of pre-sales. While binary option traders understand how trading systems work, there are many positioning and differentiation advantages to this company. Explaining the advantages of government regulated service, real option trading with a well financed market maker and even regulation which apply to reporting takes time. Each call center sales associate also needs to go through a learning curve. Finally, call center work is hard and tends to wear down people. Their average tenure of a call center worker is measured in months. Very few stay on the phone for more than a year. All these elements make for a hard to manage operation.
Blogging: Slow Start, Long Range & Effective
New formats today make the world of pre-sales a totally different operation. Blogs have changed companies from Google to O’Reilly Media. Influence in blogs is usually slow and takes a great deal of subtle development. Finding a voice, developing an authority and reaching an audience is not something that most people know at the onset. A good blog straddles formal and informal messages. It gives a continuous (sometimes daily) stories on a wide range of topics. In the binary options trading it can cover both technical (analysis, execution, tracking) as well as personal (trading psychology, working habits) elements. It will also need to somehow entice readers to contact the company or at least to give contact information. They also need to be shown how one company’s product is different (essentially better) than all the other competitors out there. There is certainly plenty to write, explain and even influence in binary options.
The next question you may ask: can blogging replace the “hard sell” closing activity of call centers? Stay tuned… good news there also…