Discover how a simple campaign idea allowed business finance provider LDF to break new client ground and re-position itself as a no-nonsense financial provider in the UK
Do the terms ‘asset finance’ and ‘operating lease’ make you scratch your head in confusion? If the answer’s yes, then you’re not alone. It’s this confusion that drove LDF’s ‘Welcome to the flipside’ campaign – an initiative designed to make loans more accessible to small business owners.
In February 2017, LDF had a hunch – as a result of face-to-face and social media conversations, and SME reviews – that the financial services sector is complicated and customers often don’t understand what they’re buying. Carrying out panel-based and other quantitative research led to the realisation that its hunch was correct.
“Financial services is littered with jargon,” says Mark South, LDF’s CMO. “And the whole premise of ‘flipside’ was to cut through this jargon to give customers the freedom to use the money granted through loans to achieve whatever they wanted to achieve.”
Before the campaign’s launch in February 2017, LDF was providing loans and asset finance to UK businesses, but it wanted to reduce its reliance on the professional services sector. It wanted to grow its loan book into new sectors and increase the number of different products sold to existing customers.
This led to three primary campaign objectives:
- To grow an additional £100 million worth of loans in LDF’s loan book between 2017 and 2018.
- To diversify its loan book without being reliant on professional services. In order to achieve this, LDF aimed to target six new sectors: construction; manufacturing; human health (medical/dental); the professional, scientific, and technical sectors; wholesale; and retail trade. These industries make up 72% of a market that LDF hasn’t targeted yet.
- To re-establish a balance between loans and asset finance.
To acquire a rounded picture of its customer base, LDF carried out quantitative (online survey) and qualitative (regional focus groups and telephone interviews with business owners) research into the logical and emotional needs of a new target audience, and found there was a lot of bureaucracy within high street banks over how easily businesses could secure loans. If a customer already had a current account with a particular bank, for instance, this could delay the process of acquiring a new loan.
This realisation sparked the idea for creating a brand manifesto that sought to communicate the benefit of working with LDF to small business owners. “Our manifesto was simple: we bring
into your business and
bureaucracy”, says Peter Reid, CEO at MSQ Partners – the creative agency that helped LDF deliver its campaign.
This led to the flipside campaign idea, which would give LDF the opportunity to deliver a creative proposition that was the opposite of what customers had been experiencing with high street banks.
The idea was to take everyday problems that small business owners face and – using simple, clear and consistent creative – transform them into possibilities in the ‘flipside’ world by showing how decision making can be flexible and fast.
During the eight-week test phase, LDF ran weekly pieces of print editorial through its partnership with newspaper
. These editorial pieces showed stories around LDF’s ‘flipside moments’, which were points in time where small business owners are able to do something differently as a result of receiving the money they need.
A Liverpool-based micro-brewery, for example, recently used LDF funding to purchase new production equipment to meet urgent and growing demand.
The digital campaign covered all touchpoints of the customer journey, including social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), PPC, SEO, display ads, and web pages. And all digital activity was supported with broader brand-building activity through PR and content partnerships, including with
Creative and messaging
MSQ Partners were tasked with delivering a creative proposition that was simple and effective, with an emphasis on creating a clear and consistent tone of voice across all digital platforms.
The inspiration for the creative came from wanting to deliver multiple messages for different products. To do this, simple and creative visuals were designed, which differed based on background colour, image and message conveyed. In total, there were nine different variants that could be used on each product.
Each image showed a customer that would be working in the industries LDF wanted to target, as well as a simple problem-and-solution approach when it came to tailoring messaging to those target sectors.
“We were able to tailor the messaging (as well as test/vary it) to different products as well as to tailor the visuals to different industries (e.g. retail, construction), says Peter. “Each effectively set up the ‘need’ on the first visual, and then provided the LDF solution (the benefit, the product and the ‘flipside’) with the same visual reversed.”
A bright LDF colour palette was developed for the backgrounds, which were also designed in keeping with the flipside ethos, which was to be the opposite of the typical colours representative of the financial services industry – e.g. reds, blacks, and greys.
MSQ experimented with different designs, all of which would be monitored, and then the campaign would be optimised in real time. “Using VAT loans as an example, we might have a message with two different executions that are similar in style but with different visuals, and then we’d pick the one that received the best response and direct this to an individual segment,” explains Peter.
Mark adds: “We measured the response by looking at click-through rates on each customer segment. The volume of leads and deals created as a result of the click-throughs would also be used to decide which segments to target.”
The starting point for the test visuals was a combination of selecting the priority products e.g. VAT loan, business development loan, based on overall level of interest in the customer base and the time of year when they were most relevant (in the case of VAT loans).
Visuals were then selected to align with the goal of being serious and purposeful. “We didn’t want ‘happy customers’ that pervade most of the advertising in this sector,” argues Peter. “We wanted driven, serious professionals – people who had the balls to take their business to the next level (the flipside). The specific messaging was then driven by the overall brand manifesto/campaign platform, tailored slightly for the individual product.”
Measurement and results
The success of the campaign was measured on the number of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) generated. LDF set up weekly reviews with MSQ every week to identify the number of people coming to the landing pages of specific products and to discuss the changes that would need to be made – to both the visuals and the channels used – over the course of the next week.
These calls were fundamental in finding what Mark describes as the ‘magic formula’ that would drive the highest performance.
The success of the campaign was down to the multichannel, multimedia approach. Pay-per-click (PPC) had the strongest response during the campaign; spending was subsequently increased for this activity.
The company also discovered that other channels, e.g. digital display ads, were important in driving conversions and increasing the effectiveness of PPC, with re-marketing, social and PR playing supporting roles. It was all about maintaining a blend of channels.
LDF saw a continual improvement in campaign performance for every pound spent, and in the test phase, the campaign broke-even in its sixth week.
The ROI was also significant during the test phase, with £2.47 generated for every pound spent on media. This translated into a customer lifetime value of close to 1000%. To reach this percentage, customers will typically transact with LDF six times.
The campaign will run until December 2017, but LDF has already seen some impressive results:
- 960 new leads generated since the start of the campaign, which is in addition to a current database of 6500 customers.
- 84 deals converted, which translates into £1.5 million incremental deal volume into LDF.
Over the next six months, LDF is looking to increase media spend to up to £800,000, with a total customer lifetime value forecasted at just over £50 million for all customers accrued during the campaign. Its total media spend to date is £150,000.
LDF’s campaign highlights how a simple and consistent message, combined with a healthy dose of creativity, can successfully resonate with an audience.