Courteney is the Marketing Director at Funding Options, a technology company that searches the market to help businesses find the right funding options for their situation.

Given her experience, Courteney has discussed the challenges and marks of success for aligning a Product team with a Marketing Team.

The interview covers:

  • How Product teams and Marketing teams should ultimately work towards shared goals
    • The customer should be at the forefront of their minds
    • Success should be frequently measured
  • Clear, concise steps to align Product and Marketing teams
    • Start by defining a project, and don’t forget to have fun!
  • The biggest challenge Courteney has come across in aligning Product and Marketing teams, and how to overcome it!
    • Poor communication can be helped by establishing a clear timeline
  • How a communications strategy and team structure can be effectively shifted in response to COVID-19 lockdown measures and a sudden economic downturn

FINITE: Hey Courteney! Firstly, could you describe your previous experience in FinTech, and about your current role as Marketing Director at Funding Options? 

Courteney: I actually started my career as a Marketing Executive in a trading and investing FinTech called Sharenet, back home in South Africa. This was my first taste of both the Fin and the Tech and, looking back now, I am very grateful to have been thrown in the deep end quite early on. It certainly set me up to manage both the challenges and opportunities this industry can throw at you.

Fast forward 10 years and I have now worked in several tech businesses, from start up to scale up, across a multitude of industries. I have recently stepped up into my role as Marketing Director at Funding Options, during a very exciting time for the business. My role is to lead our brand, growth and communications strategies, and to ensure my team can perform to their full potential. 

FINITE: Given your experience, what does ‘good’ Product and Marketing team alignment look like for you? 

Courteney: Good Product and Marketing team alignment really comes down to how the two teams have set themselves up to work together around common business objectives.

It is when the members of each team are clear around what they are working towards, how each of their roles contribute to the end goal, and when success is measured frequently. Both Marketing and Product teams have the customer at the forefront of their minds.

While Product is focusing on how to continuously improve the user experience for our customers, Marketing is continuously looking to bring in new and repeat customers who will benefit from the designed experience. The two teams have different touch points with customers, and as a result, will have unique insights to share with one another.

So, when you have great product marketing alignment, the two teams will have an open and frequent feedback loop which will improve the experience holistically. 

FINITE: If you were asked to implement Product and Marketing team alignment, what would be the key, practical steps you would take? 

Courteney: I would suggest taking it project by project, as not all members of each team will be needed for every project. 

  1. Define the project 
  2. Set the clear project outcomes
  3. Set clear project KPIs
  4. Define the roles of all individuals from the different teams and set clear KPIs each of them
  5. Define the timeline
  6. Set frequent check in points 
  7. Have fun! 

FINITE: What’s the biggest challenge you have come across so far when aligning Product and Marketing teams? How did you overcome it? 

Courteney: Poor communication. When you’re working in a tech business there are so many moving parts.

From a Product perspective, they are essentially managing efficient delivery of the technology. Set “timelines” are usually guidance and are subject to prioritisation changes, things breaking, bugs etc. Whereas within Marketing, you would usually set a 3-6-9 multichannel strategy that you, for the most part, stick to. Of course, there is always space for spontaneity and reactivity –  but it is different.

Often, Marketing’s timelines will have to shift as a result of product related delays, or Marketing has not been made aware of changes to product/tech strategy. When Marketing is relying on Product and Tech teams to deliver, clear communication is key, so that everyone is on the same page, no errors occur and no one is left frustrated. 

FINITE: How has COVID-19 impacted your role?

Courteney: Since the COVID-19 lockdown started, the industry has taken a beating, and the AltFi space is no exception. It was extremely difficult to match supply and demand and this impacted our business, and my role, in several ways.

Firstly, I had to shift our communications strategy. We went from focusing our efforts around alternative finance as an SME lending solution, to educating our customers about CBILS and how new government policy would impact their business. We also worked alongside industry bodies and associations to direct our comms towards lobbying the government, which I never would have pictured myself doing this time last year.

Secondly, the team structure changed as some people were furloughed. Now, we are growing and hiring again which is extremely exciting.

Additionally, this period gave our business the opportunity to double down on our technological innovations, providing further economies of scale and giving Marketing a fresh new area of the business to utilise in our communications as we move forward into the new normal.

Most importantly for me though was the realisation that the work we are doing at Funding Options, helping SMEs access vital funding they need to grow, has never been more prevalent than it is right now. 

FINITE: That’s great, thanks for sharing your insights Courteney!

To read the last edition of the FINITE FinTech Interview Series and to learn about how to align your company’s values with your marketing strategy, click here!