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Big Marketing, Little Budgets, and New Brokers

by Charlie Trumpess, MCIM, CM
  • Starting a new brokerage in the highly competitive world of retail Forex is a challenging task.
Big Marketing, Little Budgets, and New Brokers
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Starting a new brokerage in the highly competitive world of retail FX is a challenging task. The likes of the IG Group have whopping marketing and advertising budgets in the tens of millions of pounds, and deploy considerable resources to maintain their position as the UK’s number 1 with a 30% market share. So how does a new entrant with limited marketing spend and resources hope to compete?

Assuming you’ve done your homework, identified a viable segment of the market, understand your target audience, taken a good, hard look at the competition, have a decent business and marketing plan, the right platform and IT support, and a realistic budget based on your objectives, then all’s good. In reality, it’s unlikely that you’ll be going head-to-head with any of the top ten brokers who collectively have an 85% share of the world FX market. However, you’ll want to keep a handle on your operating costs and get as much out of your marketing for as little as possible. Today there are numerous marketing applications available that can give your fledgling business a much needed boost without costing a fortune and in many cases for free.

Office

Before you open your doors for business you’ll probably need some basic word processing, spreadsheet and presentation tools. Certainly you could spend around £100 per licence for Microsoft Office or go for Office365 Enterprise, where you pay a small-ish monthly subscription fee. The upside of Office365 Enterprise is you get a lot of stuff for your money, centralised admin control and compliance assistance, for example. Alternatively, Apache OpenOffice is a suite of applications that includes Writer (Word), Calc (Excel), Impress (PowerPoint) and Draw (Paint). You’ll find that Apache OpenOffice can handle all popular file formats including Microsoft. You can customise the applications should you choose to do so, and it’s completely free. It might be that you’ll want to go the whole nine yards and adopt a free Linux operating system (OS) for desktop such as Ubuntu or Linux Mint.

Google

google

The powerhouse that is Google offers a wide range of free apps for individuals and very cheap enterprise solutions starting at around $5 USD per user per month. The Google suite offers email, cloud storage, video and business calls, integrated calendar, company intranet, document creation and collaboration, central admin and secure archiving. Of course, you can use Google’s YouTube platform to upload, share and promote your video content. You can also use targeted YouTube advertising, where you only pay for what people watch. YouTube lets you segment your target audience and provides free Analytics . Produce sufficiently engaging, informative and fun video content, and you won’t have to pay anything to build a loyal audience of subscribers. What’s more, if you produce original content then you can earn additional revenue by joining the YouTube Partner Programme, and let other companies place their ads on and around your content.

The success or failure of any FX brokerage depends on attracting and retaining customers, and encouraging those customers to trade regularly. The job of marketing is to make your target customers aware of your existence; establish why your brokerage is any better or different than the next guy; and encourage them to open an account, fund and actually start trading. Getting your prospects to the point of decision or conversion can be a costly and time-consuming process. Fortunately there are free and low-cost marketing applications to help you.

Your marketing communications plan will probably include a variety of media. The aim of your marketing messages is to move your prospects from awareness and interest to preference and decision. The marketing tools at your disposal will include email, web, PPC (pay per click), social, events, sponsorship and mobile. You might also opt for broadcast media. There are several good books on guerrilla marketing and how to apply a little creativity to your plan, such as Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin. We haven’t got time to cover all the options available to you, so we’ll stick to just four.

Website

First, you’ll need a mobile responsive website to act as your digital shop window. Probably one of the best known blog and business website building tools is WordPress. It’s completely free to use, and requires no knowledge of coding. You can use advanced themes or templates and a massive library of plugins and widgets to further enhance your sites features and functionality. Lots of themes and widgets are free to use while others come with a modest price tag. There’s plenty of free help and advice for the uninitiated, and WordPress is inherently SEO friendly. On the downside, your website might be reliant on third party widgets and plugins beyond your control. Connecting your Trading Platform to your site will require an application programming interface (API). WordPress is designed to integrate with other applications, but you’ll probably need to leave this task to your platform provider. Lastly, you’ll want to monitor and measure activity on your website. Google Analytics allows you to monitor your website’s traffic and much more besides, it’s easily installed in WordPress and it’s free.

CRM

Building your website is one thing. Driving traffic to it is something else. Whatever your preferred methods of communication you’ll be keen to build a database of prospects and customers. Some trading platforms provide CRM (customer relationship management) functionality while others enable you to integrate with popular solutions such as Salesforce.com and SugarCRM. vTiger CRM offers a low cost alternative to the big boys and can be integrated with WordPress and trading platforms like Ariel iTrade. You can build, send and analyse bulk email campaigns from within vTiger. You can also synchronise vTiger with Google apps, MS Outlook and more advanced email clients such as MailChimp. If you’re really strapped for cash then take a look at Zoho CRM, which is free with certain limitations. Again, you can integrate Zoho with Google apps, MS Outlook and Office, MailChimp and social media. There’s also lead capture plugins available for WordPress.

Email

MailChimp is one of the most popular email solutions available. If you have less than 2,000 subscribers and send fewer than 12,000 emails per month, MailChimp is absolutely free. If you’re going to be doing lots of bulk email blasts then you simply buy credits. MailChimp is very easy to use, offers basic reporting and seems to integrate with just about everything. One thing to remember is that MailChimp doesn’t allow you to use lists you might have bought from reputable DMA accredited data brokers or other third parties. Your email recipients must have opted-in specifically to receive marketing communications from you.

Desk with Social Media and Connection Concept

Social

Today social media might seem like a no-brainer when it comes to your marketing communications. After all, it costs nothing to setup a Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn account. Most social media now offer paid marketing and advertising solutions along with their free services. They also offer handy analytics and user insights. Although using social media is basically free, understanding where your target audience resides and how you can start engaging them will take some time and energy. If you intend using multiple social media outlets but have limited time and resources then a management tool such as Hootsuite might be for you. The free version of Hootsuite restricts you to five social media accounts, and there’s very limited reporting. However, Hootsuite allows you to schedule your social content delivery, and monitor all activity across multiple channels.

When it comes to marketing your new brokerage having deep pockets and a top London agency in your corner will definitely help. On the other hand, shallow pockets don’t have to stop you making a deep impression on your target audience. As we’ve shown, there are plenty of free and inexpensive marketing solutions capable of integrating with your trading platform, back office systems and each other. The rest is up to you.

Starting a new brokerage in the highly competitive world of retail FX is a challenging task. The likes of the IG Group have whopping marketing and advertising budgets in the tens of millions of pounds, and deploy considerable resources to maintain their position as the UK’s number 1 with a 30% market share. So how does a new entrant with limited marketing spend and resources hope to compete?

Assuming you’ve done your homework, identified a viable segment of the market, understand your target audience, taken a good, hard look at the competition, have a decent business and marketing plan, the right platform and IT support, and a realistic budget based on your objectives, then all’s good. In reality, it’s unlikely that you’ll be going head-to-head with any of the top ten brokers who collectively have an 85% share of the world FX market. However, you’ll want to keep a handle on your operating costs and get as much out of your marketing for as little as possible. Today there are numerous marketing applications available that can give your fledgling business a much needed boost without costing a fortune and in many cases for free.

Office

Before you open your doors for business you’ll probably need some basic word processing, spreadsheet and presentation tools. Certainly you could spend around £100 per licence for Microsoft Office or go for Office365 Enterprise, where you pay a small-ish monthly subscription fee. The upside of Office365 Enterprise is you get a lot of stuff for your money, centralised admin control and compliance assistance, for example. Alternatively, Apache OpenOffice is a suite of applications that includes Writer (Word), Calc (Excel), Impress (PowerPoint) and Draw (Paint). You’ll find that Apache OpenOffice can handle all popular file formats including Microsoft. You can customise the applications should you choose to do so, and it’s completely free. It might be that you’ll want to go the whole nine yards and adopt a free Linux operating system (OS) for desktop such as Ubuntu or Linux Mint.

Google

google

The powerhouse that is Google offers a wide range of free apps for individuals and very cheap enterprise solutions starting at around $5 USD per user per month. The Google suite offers email, cloud storage, video and business calls, integrated calendar, company intranet, document creation and collaboration, central admin and secure archiving. Of course, you can use Google’s YouTube platform to upload, share and promote your video content. You can also use targeted YouTube advertising, where you only pay for what people watch. YouTube lets you segment your target audience and provides free Analytics . Produce sufficiently engaging, informative and fun video content, and you won’t have to pay anything to build a loyal audience of subscribers. What’s more, if you produce original content then you can earn additional revenue by joining the YouTube Partner Programme, and let other companies place their ads on and around your content.

The success or failure of any FX brokerage depends on attracting and retaining customers, and encouraging those customers to trade regularly. The job of marketing is to make your target customers aware of your existence; establish why your brokerage is any better or different than the next guy; and encourage them to open an account, fund and actually start trading. Getting your prospects to the point of decision or conversion can be a costly and time-consuming process. Fortunately there are free and low-cost marketing applications to help you.

Your marketing communications plan will probably include a variety of media. The aim of your marketing messages is to move your prospects from awareness and interest to preference and decision. The marketing tools at your disposal will include email, web, PPC (pay per click), social, events, sponsorship and mobile. You might also opt for broadcast media. There are several good books on guerrilla marketing and how to apply a little creativity to your plan, such as Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin. We haven’t got time to cover all the options available to you, so we’ll stick to just four.

Website

First, you’ll need a mobile responsive website to act as your digital shop window. Probably one of the best known blog and business website building tools is WordPress. It’s completely free to use, and requires no knowledge of coding. You can use advanced themes or templates and a massive library of plugins and widgets to further enhance your sites features and functionality. Lots of themes and widgets are free to use while others come with a modest price tag. There’s plenty of free help and advice for the uninitiated, and WordPress is inherently SEO friendly. On the downside, your website might be reliant on third party widgets and plugins beyond your control. Connecting your Trading Platform to your site will require an application programming interface (API). WordPress is designed to integrate with other applications, but you’ll probably need to leave this task to your platform provider. Lastly, you’ll want to monitor and measure activity on your website. Google Analytics allows you to monitor your website’s traffic and much more besides, it’s easily installed in WordPress and it’s free.

CRM

Building your website is one thing. Driving traffic to it is something else. Whatever your preferred methods of communication you’ll be keen to build a database of prospects and customers. Some trading platforms provide CRM (customer relationship management) functionality while others enable you to integrate with popular solutions such as Salesforce.com and SugarCRM. vTiger CRM offers a low cost alternative to the big boys and can be integrated with WordPress and trading platforms like Ariel iTrade. You can build, send and analyse bulk email campaigns from within vTiger. You can also synchronise vTiger with Google apps, MS Outlook and more advanced email clients such as MailChimp. If you’re really strapped for cash then take a look at Zoho CRM, which is free with certain limitations. Again, you can integrate Zoho with Google apps, MS Outlook and Office, MailChimp and social media. There’s also lead capture plugins available for WordPress.

Email

MailChimp is one of the most popular email solutions available. If you have less than 2,000 subscribers and send fewer than 12,000 emails per month, MailChimp is absolutely free. If you’re going to be doing lots of bulk email blasts then you simply buy credits. MailChimp is very easy to use, offers basic reporting and seems to integrate with just about everything. One thing to remember is that MailChimp doesn’t allow you to use lists you might have bought from reputable DMA accredited data brokers or other third parties. Your email recipients must have opted-in specifically to receive marketing communications from you.

Desk with Social Media and Connection Concept

Social

Today social media might seem like a no-brainer when it comes to your marketing communications. After all, it costs nothing to setup a Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn account. Most social media now offer paid marketing and advertising solutions along with their free services. They also offer handy analytics and user insights. Although using social media is basically free, understanding where your target audience resides and how you can start engaging them will take some time and energy. If you intend using multiple social media outlets but have limited time and resources then a management tool such as Hootsuite might be for you. The free version of Hootsuite restricts you to five social media accounts, and there’s very limited reporting. However, Hootsuite allows you to schedule your social content delivery, and monitor all activity across multiple channels.

When it comes to marketing your new brokerage having deep pockets and a top London agency in your corner will definitely help. On the other hand, shallow pockets don’t have to stop you making a deep impression on your target audience. As we’ve shown, there are plenty of free and inexpensive marketing solutions capable of integrating with your trading platform, back office systems and each other. The rest is up to you.

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