How Should a Funder Market?

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brainstormingWhether it’s marketing to ISOs or for direct leads, funders have different marketing techniques that suit their size and business philosophy.

Credibly, a New York-based company of 160 employees, works with LendingTree and uses Google and Facebook for leads. But Director of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships Jeffrey Bumbales said that advertising on large pay-per-click channels may not be the right move every funder.

“If you’re unsure as to whether [Google or Facebook] are worth pursuing, lead generators are a great benchmark. If your average cost per lead is more expensive than the market price, you’re better off allocating your spend towards the lead generators and other channels.”

Credibly has used LinkedIn for marketing, but Bumbales acknowledged that the platform can be very expensive. They have used Sponsored InMail, which sends direct messages to targeted business owners. Bumbales said this can be very effective, but it requires you to have at least one person managing the responses, which can be very time intensive.

Bumbales also emphasized the importance of diversifying lead sources such that you never have more than one-third of your marketing spend devoted to one source.

Heather Francis, CEO of Elevate Funding, never devotes more than one-third of her marketing in any one area. That’s because she doesn’t really do any marketing. Yup. Elevate, a funder of about 20 employees in Gainesville, FL, gets by just fine without marketing.

“It’s all word of mouth and networking,” Francis said.

Francis says she loves it when an ISO will say “I keep seeing your [company] name on merchant bank statements,” meaning that when files get circulated, the ISO keeps seeing that merchants are being debited by Elevate.

Francis has taken the approach of letting others approach her company. Kind of like dating.

“We want to work with people who want to work with us,” Francis said. “And in this business, everything is reputational based.”

If there’s anyone who knows anything about marketing, it’s Jennie Villano, Vice President Of Business Development at Kalamata Capital Group.

Villano uses LinkedIn to market to ISOs, posting friendly videos of herself speaking directly to the ISO community on an almost daily basis.

Last year, Villano started a cooking show video series on her LinkedIn page called “Cooking with Kalamata,” in reference to her company’s name. In each video, she invites a different guest to cook something with her in an informal home kitchen setting.

“Cooking has nothing to do with lending, but it doesn’t matter,” Villano told the audience on a marketing panel at last year’s Broker Fair.

The cooking shows allow potential clients to see her in a casual, non-business environment so that even if she hasn’t met many of her LinkedIn contacts, they feel like she’s a personal friend.

“And people want to do business with their friends,” she said.

Last modified: February 20, 2019
Todd Stone


Category: marketing


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