How To Build a Standout Global Brand

Jonny Steel
VP Marketing
Payoneer
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How To Build a Standout Global Brand
What follows is an article based on Jonny's appearance on the Techie Talkie podcast

Why Context is Key for Marketing

I'll tell you a quick story. Very recently I was in India, and as I flew into Mumbai, I was at immigration line and the immigration officer in Mumbai was very similar to how they are all over the world -- like the homeland security people in the U.S. Very serious, very stern, and into all the questions -- then the fingerprints, and “look here”, and “don't smile”, “take your glasses off”, “take your hat off”.

And then he says, "So the purpose of your trip is business?". "Yes, I'm here for business". "What's your company?". "I work for a company called Payoneer". "And what does Payoneer do he asks?". I say, "We empower businesses to go beyond, beyond borders, beyond limits and beyond expectations".

He looked at me, and that was the moment where I realized the answer of what you do as the VP marketing, is all about context.

Don't give the marketing fluff to the immigration officer, because at that point he was about to throw me out of the country, so I said, "Oh, we are a cross-border payments platform, we help businesses get paid".

In the end they let me in. But there's something in the idea of going beyond, beyond borders, beyond expectations, which is actually far greater than the world of payments.

So yes, we do connect businesses all over the world, whether you need to make payments, mass payments, or even individual payments. Small businesses, even individual freelancers anywhere in the world end up getting paid from different countries.

But we see really our mission as far greater than that, and on top of payments we've added several layers of services, whether it's working capital which is something I'll talk about a bit later on.

Helping businesses to grow, and really what we're trying to do, is build out our network, build out the ecosystem, so a small business or a large business is able to connect with anyone, anywhere in the world and really grow a sizable business. And that's what helped to get customers in over 200 countries and territories worldwide.

Tools Aren’t Nearly as Important as How You Use Them

I've recently started using Drift, the chat bot on the website. And I think really the answer to that question is, there are loads of great tools that are out there.

Doesn't really matter which tools you have, what really matters is how you use them.

So what I really enjoy about having a chat bot on the website where we got a lot of pre-programmed chats but also sales agents can jump in, depending on the answers - is that you can just continue to test it, continue to optimize it, and based on individual conversations you start to understand the visitors that are coming to your website. You can keep changing the website as much as changing the bot.

A lot of marketers are just, "There are so many tools that I don't know what to choose". Just choose one and go with it.

I stress a lot over our AB testing, multivariate testing tool. There are so many out there on the markets, some very very good ones, and some pretty not so good. But generally speaking now, most of them have reached a certain level that they can do so much, that it's entirely about you too.

And if you start running more tests, and you ran tests smartly, then you're going to get results.

So we use VWO for our AB testing and multivariate testing, it's probably not the most sophisticated tool that's available on the market, but I still feel there is so much more value we can be getting out of it if we were to continue to use it more and more and in a smarter way.

What Marketers Can Learn About Strategic Selling From Spotify

My favorite non-tech, brand? Spotify. And the reason I say Spotify today is because I was out running earlier this morning, and they broke me. And when I say they broke me, what I mean is I've been listening to music on Spotify now for well over a year.

Today on the run, I signed up for premium. While running!

And there are a few amazing things about that. Firstly, I've been hearing the ads non-stop, after every few songs, they stop and they interject with the ad, telling you to get three months free of premium. I don't think it was three months free of premium at the beginning, but maybe after they're seeing my behavior and seeing my usage, they're realizing this is probably what will get me in.

I think it was the Rosh HaShanah dinner when we sat around the table and I discovered that basically everybody's got a subscription to Spotify. Even my teenage nephew's got a Spotify subscription.

I realized that 22 Shekels a month or whatever it actually is, it's a no brainer. And what's so beautiful about, I think, tech today is that whilst running, tracking my run using Strava which is another app that I love, listening to Spotify, I just tapped on it whilst running. I subscribed with my PayPal account where my credentials are already saved in it, and literally within about 30 seconds I had subscribed. You know, done deal, and I guess I brought a big customer for a long long time.

They get it, and what they don't do is bombard you the whole time. I can't think of the last time I received an email from Spotify, coming to me saying, "Upgrade upgrade upgrade".

What do they do? They do it in the right time, in the right place, and they didn't ruin the experience.

It's not like those ads that were popping up, and the reminders and the popup around, signing up for three months free, it was never a ruining experience. It would just pause it just for a moment, if you're running you'll get through it, if you're driving you'll get through it.

But it was that constant reminder, and each time realizing the value that I was going to get from it by paying. So now my PayPal details are in there, probably they will remain there for a long time.

How to Inject Emotion Into Video Marketing

So, I mentioned India before. I want to talk just briefly about India, because we do a lot of marketing in India -- we have two offices there. So I've done quite a bit of work there with advertising agencies in India, and got to learn quite a bit about the culture.

It's an amazing place, and I know most Israelis have been there to travel, it's a fascinating place to do business. And one thing that I found really interesting is their video advertising. Our video advertising now is primarily through YouTube and Facebook, but also television advertising too. And there were two commercials there.

I think what they do so well in India is they bring you to tears with their advertising, they do a basically epic movie within a one to three minute ad.

There's one from Ariel the washing powder. I'm trying to remember the name of it, they had a hashtag associated with it around, "Share the load". That was it, share the load.

It's a play on words of share the load of the washing, but what it actually was, is a campaign having seen statistics that 70% of children in India believe that doing the laundry is a women's job, is the mother's job.

They created an ad and a campaign around showing the sharing the load within the household. Fifty fifty, if you're both working then the work at home should be shared fifty fifty. It's a beautiful ad, if you've never seen it before, I recommend to just go into YouTube and watch it. There's so much feeling, so much emotion to it.

And there's a second one, if I may pop in with a second one as well, from Google. Google Search did this already three or four years ago, also in India, around a story of partitions. So India and Pakistan were partitioned in 1947. It's quite a thorny political issue, but they managed to touch on something really human, of the fact that during partition people were broken apart.

So families and friends were sent in two different directions, and a border was put between them. And it tells the story about a young woman who is talking to... It looks like her grandfather, in India, about his childhood and his friendship with a guy called Yusuf in Lahore, and how they had never seen each other since, and what they used to do as kids.

So she starts going through on a search, and from the pieces of the story he tells from many years before, she manages to identify the candy store in Lahore. She contacts them, she reaches out to the grandson that’s there, connects with them and they manage to do a reunion between these two old friends. And there's so much emotion that it brings you to tears, and I think that's a great ad.

A great ad is something that either makes you laugh or makes you cry. I'm one that easily goes for the cry, more than the laughter.

The Big Lie Getting in the Way of Strong Branding

Building a standout brand is a long process. But to start,  I think you have to really know yourself. You have to understand what it is that you're doing.

Many companies out there will claim... Especially startups, when the startup goes to the VC's and pitches, the VC says, 'Well who are your competitors' and they say, 'We don't have a competitor, what we're doing is truly unique'.

And everybody knows that's bullshit. It's a big lie.

You have competitors, and in many cases, if you're really honest with yourself, you'll actually accept that there's a large part of what you do which is commoditized.

Maybe it's not everything and maybe there's no company out there that does exactly what you do in all markets, all cases, for all verticals. But there are elements of what you have, where you have direct competitors and the product itself is commoditized.

And in order to be able to stand out, what you have to have there is a brand that has some kind of meaning, some kind of story behind it.

Let's go to an extreme example of, let's say mineral water, drinking water.

I don't think there can possibly be any product which is more commoditized than H2O in a bottle. But in order to be able to do that, and to create something like Evian, where my wife swears that it tastes better than other waters, even though I did the Pepsi challenge, she failed it. Even still, the one that beat was the supermarket private label, she would still swear even afterwards she said, "You caught me off-guard, it's something I ate before".

There's clearly a story right? That Evian has built, so that makes it the luxury mineral water that you'll find in nice places and nice airport lounges, and pay twice as much in the supermarket for it.

So, you’ve got to create that story around it, and that's something that, in order to create that story, I think first and foremost you have to try and understand yourself, and what it is you're doing and the meaning that you're trying to bring to the world.

How Brands Can Stand Out With Great Storytelling

This is the exact approach we took to building Payoneer’s brand story.

We started with what we did.

Payments, moving money from place A to place B is not the most exciting thing, and yes, that is the mechanics of a large amount of what we do. So how do you create a story around it?

One example of how we created a story around it is, let's take for example that small business in India that is looking to expand. They've got some clients, they do web development and they've got clients in the U.S. and Australia and the U.K. and Canada and other markets around the world, why are they hiring this agency in India? Probably because they come recommended, maybe their prices are lower than doing it locally, maybe they've got a big team, they can scale, they can do the work fast, I've seen good examples. Maybe they found them on a freelance marketplace like Upwork or Fiverr, or maybe they just find them online or they were recommended.

So you got that brand, our story for a company like that on what it is that Payoneer is doing, is about being able to grow your business globally.

It isn't about moving the money from Dollars into Rupee, getting it into your bank account, being able to pay your other suppliers that you work with. It's about how do you grow your business? And that's how we engage with our customers.

The payment is a means to an end, but our mission is to help them go beyond and to new markets.

And so what we're always trying to do with them, is engaging with them and introducing them through the product, through services that we offer, and through our marketing to ways that they can be a more successful company.

So if they're a company of five people or ten people, that are able to service a few clients each month, our goal is to say to them, by engaging with Payoneer we're going to help you grow that company into a company of 50-100 people, with clients not only in two or three countries, but with clients in 20 or 30 countries.

And the way we're going to do that is through our ecosystem, through our network, through the services. We enable you to now... Maybe you were unable to do business in Canada before because you had no way to get paid from Canada.

So not only we're going to give you the actual tools to get paid, so you can get paid as if you were a Canadian business, but now we can also introduce you to new ways that you can actually market yourself and to be able to gain clients there. So that's a whole story that we've created.

If you go to our homepage, if you go to any of our marketing messages, you won't see as the first thing "Cross pay" or "Cross border payments". What you'll see there is “grow your business, how to expand into new geographies and new markets.”

Build that Brand Story Into Every Product

Another example I can give also is this new service that we created around working capital, called Capital Advance.

So the product is, you're an Amazon seller, you're coming up to peak season or you want to... You sell socks at the moment but you want to sell slippers as well. In order to sell slippers you're going to have to go, find a supplier, and buy a shit ton of slippers to be able to put them on the Amazon list.

In order to do that you need capital, so there the product is working capital. We'll offer you some money, and if you want it you can accept it, and then with each payment you receive from Amazon in the next few months, part of it we'll take back to repay the capital you got. So that's how you describe in purely technical terms.

In terms of building a brand around it, the brand is, you have a vision but you need a push.

And there the concept is that every entrepreneur, even a small business owner that is two people selling socks on Amazon, has that vision, That vision might be, I sell it on amazon.com, but I want to be selling it on the seven or eight markets that Amazon are in.

Maybe my vision is I want to explore, broadening it from socks which I'm selling really well, into 15 other categories. Maybe my vision is I want to get off Amazon and also be able to sell on other marketplaces and have my own store.

And so, there you have that vision but you need a push, and Payoneer will be the company that will give you that push.

Push you into the places that maybe you're not quite ready to take that leap, and we'll help you get there, by putting the opportunity in front of you and making it easy to do it in a way that's scalable for your business.

That's telling a story, everything is about telling a story around your core value that you bring your customer.

Even if there is another company that does exactly the same thing in terms of providing finance to Amazon sellers. If they describe it in those purely technical ways, and we describe it in the story of, 'You've got a vision, you need a push', then it gives us a differentiator and it makes the customer feel that we really are their partner that has their back, and trying to get them into places they want to be.

Where you’re truly nailing the emotional sweet spot is when that emotion intersects with a functional need.

Use the Brand to Sell a Dream

Because emotions are everything right?

And emotions, what we find when we are looking at our services, the emotion we want is aspiration and inspiration.

We believe that whether we're serving small businesses or major global brands like Google, and I'll take an example of Google going beyond with Payoneer.

They have a brand called Google Shopping in the U.S. and in a couple of other markets. In most countries around the world it's mostly search and advertising, but in some markets what they're building out now is a real kind of E-commerce store, where you can buy in it, shop in it and it gets shipped to you by Google.

What's interesting with them is that they are now coming to our events around the world, where we have large numbers of E-commerce sellers, in order to explore the market. They came with us to India, they came with us to China. They're coming with us I think to Korea very shortly. In order to explore the market and see how they can go beyond into other markets.

Here we're at this intersection of really being able to offer, as I say, inspiration and aspiration. Both to big brands, as well as the individual freelancer, or that small business.

What we're saying is, 'We want you, we know you have a dream, we know that business owners, whether you're a startup or a global brand, you have a dream to get bigger, to grow into different places, and if we can be the one that can just inspire you, spark that something that you'll know it's possible. That thing that looks really scary is possible, and we can help you to get there'.

Then it's something that they're going to connect with, more than a service that says, 'These are the technical ways the thing works, it's got a lot of great features to do this and the other, go and buy it'.

And so, the storytelling and the inspiration and the emotions are what really makes the world of difference - with huge companies and with small businesses, in markets all over the world.

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Jonny Steel is the VP of Marketing at Payoneer. He is a marketing and business development professional with experience in initiating and negotiating strategic partnerships at a senior level in online marketing, retail and finance sectors. Educated to Masters level with strong experience in building scalable revenue-driving models from the early stage through growth stage at a number of the fastest growing technology companies. Confident and entertaining public speaker and media spokesman, regularly commenting in the national press and broadcast media as well as at conferences and webinars.

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Techie Talkie,  the tech marketing podcast is a casual meeting place where the best tech marketers share their most impactful trade secrets and marketing hacks . Its objective is to inspire creativity within the tech marketing space and help marketers rise above the noise. It is hosted by Asaph Shulman, a serial marketer and CMO of Firebolt and our very own Carmel Yoeli.