Marketing People: Alan Fagan Head of marketing, Linked Finance
As the leading peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform in Ireland, Linked Finance has chalked up considerable success since launching in 2013. Now it has more than 20,000 registered users and has provided Irish SMEs with business loans totalling more than €80m over the last five years as Alan Fagan, head of marketing, explains to John McGee.
Describe your role with Linked Finance
I lead the marketing and customer service functions. So, it’s all about spreading the word and attracting people to the platform and then keeping them happy once they get there. We have two audiences: the businesses who borrow and the people who lend. We’ve grown our lender base organically and there is huge demand among investors who want to support Irish businesses while earning a fair return, and they see the platform as a very effective way to do that. Given that we’ve also attracted capital from some key institutional investors, we’re well covered on that side of the equation.
As such, my focus now is on bringing the good news about Linked Finance to even more business owners across the country, showing them that they now have a better online option for business loans.
What marketing challenges do you face?
We’re a disruptive and innovative challenger in a very well-established market. The traditional institutions still dominate the SME lending sector and there is little incentive for them to innovate. If you’ve been banking in the same place for years and they look after your current account, your credit cards and your overdraft, that’s probably where you’ll go when you need a term loan.
It’s a reflex thing. There is a real appetite for alternatives, but the biggest challenge we face is making business owners aware that we are here and then demonstrating that we are a better option.
How do you overcome these challenges?
We need to box clever. As a digital native business, we focus largely on digital marketing to drive customer acquisition. That said, earned media and targeted above-the-line activity have been vital to establishing the brand and building credibility. Underpinning all of this is good customer understanding. Knowing how SMEs research, find and evaluate lending alternatives is crucial. We listen to our customers and the insights they give us shape not only our communications strategy, but the entire customer journey. Happy customers are our most valuable marketing asset and repeat customers and word-of-mouth referrals are a major source of new loans each month.
What marketing initiatives are under way?
We’ve got a lot of exciting projects coming to fruition in 2019.
We’ll be launching a range of new products and looking to capitalise on open banking technologies to further speed up our application and credit-decision processes. We’re already the fastest, easiest option around, but we have no intention of standing still.
Sunday Indo Business