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Andrew Bowen, Chief Executive Officer at PocketRate spoke with Techie Business about how he promotes his business in the financial sector in Britain, and why growth through paid advertising doesn’t hold a candle to organic growth! We have also discussed the future of the marketing industry as well as the qualities a perfect marketer should have.

Who is your average client?

The PocketRate.com site has a wide range of UK financial product offerings (both personal and business) and utility deals. So we cater to a wide audience from people looking for a new bank account, a cheap car insurance quote or a new broadband provider.

How do you find clients, what is your main strategy and approach to finding and locking down clients?

Our strategy is one of organic growth through offering unique content and free comparison tables. We focus on SEO and social media to get our message across. Visitors like our comparison tables for their ease of use and clarity. We generally shy away from cluttering up pages with advertising and instead concentrate on comparing individual products.

What sales channels does your company rely on?

We tend to focus a lot of effort via social media and creating community groups such as those on Facebook. We also create unique content alongside various SEO techniques. Finally, we do invest in some Pay Per Click advertising for very specific offerings. However, I’m keen not to rely too heavily on any one channel. For example, building a business purely on SEO is a risky game, as you never know what algorithmic changes may come about. Having multiple channels that deliver targeted visitors is key.

Perhaps, you have an interesting case or two you wanted to share?

We recently partnered with a well-known broker to launch our car insurance offering. Using PPC on search engines is prohibitively expensive due to there being so much competition for keywords. Instead we launched a car insurance Facebook group that offers free information and advice to people looking for cheap quotes. In just a few months it has already gained a large following and become one of the most popular car insurance groups. We personally welcome each new member and message them with a link to our car insurance quotation page. In addition we encourage people to ask questions in the group and have found that other members are more than willing to help out and share their own experiences, which in turn generates a good community vibe. We actively moderate the group to ensure the safety of our members – something that a number of other groups fail to do. All of this has enabled us to create a steady flow of visitors to our site.

Perhaps you’re using some innovative sales or client search methods – please touch upon that.

I’ve never been too concerned about coming up with some new innovative approach. For me, the market we’re in is huge and worth billions. If we can gain a small percentage of that audience then I’m happy. If there is an advantage we have it’s in our flexibility to change quickly combined with our very low expense ratio – something the larger companies struggle with. We are purely online and take advantage of low cost technological advances in web development and online marketing. We have no legacy systems to worry about.

What trends in the field of sales do you think are the most efficient and in-demand these days, and what methods have become obsolete?

There is no doubt that the ability to reach an ever-changing online audience is key. Business needs to quickly adapt to new ways of grabbing the audience’s attention. Over 60% of our visitors now come via a mobile device, that creates unique challenges in terms of responsive web design and the way we market our services. You also have a number of different social media channels that have their own unique way of reaching people. Taking a direct in your face selling approach doesn’t work as well as it perhaps used to. With online you have to cultivate an audience and create communities around a shared topic where you can subtly offer your services a solution to a problem rather than just blatantly advertise a product.

How do you think the market will change in the near future (perhaps, there are some market problems that need solutions)?

One of the biggest issues that companies face is that the online attention span of potential customers is diminishing. It’s why some firms see high bounce rates and bad CPA rates. There is so much ‘stuff’ online that is constantly trying to keep your attention – even just for a few seconds. It’s why I think building online communities is so important. Being able to enroll people into your online group and creating a captive audience that engages with each other about the products or services you sell is an essential part of your marketing strategy.

A lot of people are working from home now, how did this situation affect you?

I took the decision when we launched a couple of years ago that I would have a completely distributed workforce. Previously I had co-founded an insurance company that we grew to having more than 1,500 people employed. One of the biggest challenges was maintaining huge offices and infrastructure for all of these people and the cost associated with that.

In comparison, my new company PocketRate.com does not have any large offices. Everyone works from home. I recognised a few years ago that this was the way to go. It not only eliminates unnecessary office space costs but I believe a new generation of workers value a better work life balance more than ever. Long expensive commutes are a thing of the past and people get to spend more quality time with their friends and family. This all goes towards improving the wellbeing and mental health of people and their productivity.

What qualities do you think are essential for a real salesperson?

Believing in your own product or service always helps. It gives you a natural confidence that what you are selling is of value to the client. People always like buying from people they like. If competitor prices are all very similar then the person or company the client feels most comfortable with inevitably gets the sale. So creating a good rapport is key. Again, this ties into why building an online community is important.

What actions should the market players take today to stay afloat tomorrow?

Realise that time is becoming more valuable than ever for both customers and employees:

Overhaul your marketing strategy to cater for lower online attention spans.

Offer your staff flexible home-working options and well-being perks.

What trends are worth following?

Artificial Intelligence in healthcare. It will cause a dramatic change across finance and other industries such as the insurance sector. The education sector – University fees are excessive and laden you with debt. Online education and free resources are the way forward for many courses.

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