‘Business off the back of marketing is the ultimate reward’
By Laura Miller -
Communicating well in financial services is hard. An alphabet soup of acronyms like no other field competes with jargon and advertising rules to make even simple ideas virtually impenetrable after compliance has got its mitts on it. Bridging is no exception.
“The hardest part was understanding the products and all the variables,” says Gemma Palfreyman, now head of marketing and communications at Lendhub, casting her mind back to when she joined the industry in 2017.
Luckily her background was business to business marketing, mainly targeting brokers. Once she had picked apart bridging and how the products worked “it was a relatively easy transition”, she says.
Palfreyman worked in marketing at Close Brothers for almost a decade before she decided she wanted something new in her life. She swapped slow and steady merchant banking for the significantly faster paced world of bridging, joining first Oblix in 2017 before moving onto Lendhub in 2019.
“I wanted to take a leap into the unknown and couldn’t wait for a totally new challenge and industry,” she says, “marketing in financial services can be difficult, so being able to sell a product that produces tangible results swayed my decision”.
With now dozens of bridging lenders for borrowers to choose from, and without the advantages of a pavement presence enjoyed by the highstreet banks, marketers working in the sector have a tough job getting brand recognition, let alone loyalty.
“The biggest challenge is the competition,” says Palfreyman. “There are a huge number of lenders, all with similar products and services, so the challenge is to stand out and be heard.”
Go on Lendhub’s website and the homepage is an explosion of colours, a town map with roads and buildings reminiscent of a children’s play mat, and about as far as you can get from the stiff upper lip greyscales finance tends to plump for to give institutions – reckless or not – the presentation of stability.
Instead, with its construction projects and hot air balloons, Lendhub looks more like it is trying to promote possibilities, which is no accident according to Palfreyman.
“Brand awareness plays a huge part” in breaking away from the crowd, she says. “I have been lucky enough to work on the rebrand of Lendhub, and my previous employer, and developing a bold identity to stand out has always been essential”.
Little surprise then that being brave enough to be different forms the foundation of the advice she would give a new recruit to the bridging sector.
“Ensure your brand identity is unique, strong and also consistent,” she says. “No matter what industry you’re in, how we market to people is constantly changing, so keep on top of the latest trends and technology if you want to stay ahead.”
Ostensibly what Palfreyman enjoys most about her job is the variety. In the morning she could be writing an article or case study, then later putting together a product campaign, designing graphics that go into emails and social media posts.
But the thing that really gets her out of bed is the way in which all that hard work translates into results on the company’s bottom line.
“When you get a great response from a campaign, I love it. Generating enquiries off the back of marketing, that’s the ultimate reward.”
Laura Miller is a freelance journalist who writes about money and business. She regularly appears in UK national and trade newspapers and magazines, and has previously worked for ITV News and the Telegraph among others. Find her on twitter @thatlaurawrites