Valitor is an international payment solutions company, founded as Visa Iceland in 1983 and expanded to become Valitor in 2008. Since then they’ve expanded internationally through acquisitions such as Chip & PIN Solutions Ltd and now operate directly in Iceland, the UK and Ireland and across 28 European countries through strategic partnerships. We met highly respected marketeer Dr. Christine Bailey, Valitor’s UKI MD and Global CMO to discuss the marketing transformation she’s leading.
What Are Your Marketing Goals?
Everything we do is aligned behind 5 goals: Amplify Valitor Brand, Create Content & Thought Leadership, Demand Generation for Customer Acquisition and Development, Increase Customer Retention, increase employee advocacy
Where Did You Begin?
- Insights: I don’t act without insight. We conducted a strategic insights study to understand customer perspectives: what people want from payments, what influences their decisions on providers and what brand values they associate with Valitor and our acquired companies.
- Defining Purpose: You must understand your why. Valitor’s original mission ‘to be an international payment solutions company’, was a statement not a purpose. Research helped identify the “why” which is ‘to make buying and selling easy’. This is our mantra, permeating all external messaging and employee communication.
- Brand strategy: Our journey to a single master brand took two years, initially with ‘sub branding’ (“Chip & PIN Solutions – a Valitor Company”) that evolved gradually. By January 2019 five brands were consolidated under one (including social handles, websites etc.).
- Look and Feel – Brand colour palettes aren’t cosmetic. We worked with a colour psychologist on our palette (developed 2008). A brand palette should comprise complementary colours from one of four colour families. If brand colours come from different families the brain produces negative associations and the Valitor logo used colours from two families. Now our palette is from one family, it reinforces the warmth and accessibility we want to communicate.
- Messaging: We established a red thread of messages, that the entire business can align behind. A single value proposition with supporting messages for each customer segment.
How Has Demand Generation Changed?
We have strategies for each segment but of our most exciting digital work is in SMB.
How Did You Build The SMB Strategy?
Informed Targeting: We learned 2/3’s of buying journeys are online with 2-5% of targets in buying mode at any time. Buyers are self-sufficient, needing no sales intervention for 2/3’s of their journey. The challenge is identifying those in buying mode at any time. Cyance helped us understand buying intent through digital content tracking. This is keyword based and examines prospects’ actual consumption not initial search criteria. We track organisations by size, industry and by company (to see activity surges from the same account). This data informs digital advertising targeting, ensuring we engage the 2-5% with active purchase intent. We work with Coast Digital who are pioneers of biometric testing. They can track eye movements across web pages to see where visitors dwell, highlighting significant differences between what people initially click on vs. where their eyes linger, absorbing content. They also use GSR (Galvanic Skin Response) to test emotional response to content.
Going Digital: We knew our established hybrid model was flawed and CV-19 has accelerated digital transformation. Marketing supplied leads to Inside Sales (who primarily focused on inbound enquiries, renewals and upgrades). Meanwhile, call centre agents secured sales appointments for our field sales team. Sales need steady, quality lead flow with email campaigns warming prospects and nurturing leads. CV-19 enabled us to demonstrate digital’s capabilities and to compensate for lost ‘traditional’ sales engagements.
CRM: SAP Business One is our CRM system. We’re building a revenue marketing engine, with a focus on data cleanliness and insight to inform views of lead pipeline and behaviour. CV-19 forced sharp declines in trading, leaving only small subsets of the total target audience active. We target them with campaigns adding value, we understand their plight.
Is Empathy Important?
It’s critical. We created an excellent e-book on how to take online payments, it is the ‘hero’ content of our current campaign. It’s actionable, empathetic, purpose-driven, helping customers accelerate transformation.
How does Understanding the ‘Why’ Affect Product Marketing?
It accelerated product development and produced better SMB products. We’ve launched more offerings in the past six months than the previous five years!
Which functions are outsourced?
It’s impossible to have all specialist digital skills in-house. In addition to working with Coast Digital to build our website, Giraffe Social help with paid social, which warrants specific focus (social consumption increased 25% last year). We also use agencies for social selling, LinkedIn profile building and PR (currently suspended).
Your Preferred Digital Channels?
We go where customers go. Our best channels for SMB and younger buyers are Facebook and Instagram. LinkedIn and Twitter work well for larger clients and we’ll test LinkedIn for medium-sized businesses. We worked with Julia Bramble, an expert on social media and communications for SMBs.
Is Your Current Focus Demand Generation?
Yes, I’ve cut non-essentials like PR and events. We’re focused on research and DG – when revenue falls you must invest. I’m grateful to companies who did stop marketing recently though (but I fear for their pipelines in 6-8 months) – PPC is so much cheaper!
Your Advice for Marketing Leaders?
- Start with fact – all decision making should begin with insight.
- Define your “why” – do everything with that purpose.
- Be empathetic – be human.
- Disrupt – marketing drives change
- Prioritise – protect revenue generation.
- Be Rigorous – inform planning then measure/analyse.
- Prove it – marketing must fight its corner, when you have proof, you’re credible
Marketing at Valitor exemplifies best practice, reinforcing the fact that, regardless of external pressures, budget or scale, there is no substitute for customer understanding. Dr. Bailey’s book, Customer Insight Strategies: How to Understand Your Audience and Create Remarkable Marketing will be published in November 2020. It can be pre-ordered via Amazon.