Written by Josh A.
The market situation in the modern environment is changing quickly due to disruptive innovation trends, the entry of new market players, and the development of new communication technologies, which forces most companies to revise their marketing plans more often than before (Bolton et al., 2019). This activity is characterised by increasing complexity because decision-makers need to account for multiple factors including the available resources, the competence of existing staff members, the unique ways of creating customer value, and the targeting decisions defining the scope and focus of future campaigns. The SOSTAC® framework successfully addresses most of these elements by providing a solid foundation for building a comprehensive marketing strategy progressing from situation appraisals to implementation tactics and monitoring measures (Smith, 2022). This report explores the expansion of Monzo to the US market and provides a SOSTAC® plan for this company aimed at addressing the key challenges of this internationalisation move.
Monzo is a UK-based mobile-only bank that was one of the pioneers of digital banking in this country (Carey, 2018). It presently has more than 1 million customers and a generally positive reputation based on its high perceived security, a wide range of services, and its strategic partnerships with other technological start-ups providing additional services to its cardholders free of charge or at a discounted price (Cook, 2019). While the company enjoys a substantial success in the UK market, it is presently considering an expansion in the United States by offering its debit cards to US consumers in several major cities.
The SOSTAC® planning framework is widely used by specialists to develop effective marketing plans (Smith, 2022). It offers a comprehensive solution starting with a situation analysis to identify where the company is right now followed by the development of objectives outlining where it seeks to get to. Afterwards, the marketer develops specific strategies, tactics, and actions necessary to achieve these goals. The unique element of this model is its sixth dimension determining the control measures critical for measuring and monitoring the resulting performance to quickly identify any deviations from the plan or areas of inefficiencies (Safanta et al., 2019). The following sub-sections outline each of these dimensions for the Monzo organisation.
Figure 1: The SOSTAC® Framework
Source: Smith, PR (2022) The SOSTAC® Guide to your Perfect Digital Marketing Plan (2022)
The initial scope of Monzo expansion in the US is limited to the distribution of several thousands of debit cards to live events visitors in several major cities (Monzo, 2019). This suggests that the company primarily seeks to gain foothold in this market and gradually build its reputation among US customers (Warren, 2019). The following objectives may be formulated for this purpose:
- Distribute the first 10,000 cards by March 2020.
- Increase the number of followers from the US region by 5,000 users for its Facebook page and by 5,000 users for its Instagram page.
- Increase online recognition by getting at least 10 positive reviews from independent opinion leaders from the US.
The US banking industry is less advanced than the UK one from the technological standpoint as only 3% of all cards are contactless and many banks fail to provide the fully online banking experience (Warren, 2019). According to a recent report from Accenture (2019), the share of tech-savvy consumers seeking innovation reached 21% making this country one of the leaders in openness to financial services innovation. This can create a perfect ‘window of opportunity’ for Monzo as a digital-native bank.
Table 1: Marketplace SWOT
Internal Capabilities and Resources
Monzo has a unique corporate culture based on the concept of absolute transparency (Monzo, 2019). This practice is evident in both the public discussions of company achievements and mistakes and the internal practices supporting information-sharing, whistleblowing, and audit results disclosure. In combination with the digital competencies, this creates valuable internal capabilities providing for a high degree of compliance with state regulations, which may be beneficial for the stricter US market (Fleming, 2018). Additionally, the 1+ million of UK users and sufficient financial resources gained through external investments and crowdfunding campaigns allow Monzo to launch medium- or large-scale promotional campaigns in the US in order to support its expansion into this market.
The scope of initial expansion should be set to 10,000+ debit cards distributed before March 2020 and $100,000 worth of transactions performed by the end of 2020.
In terms of quality, the company needs to get 100+ positive reviews from the consumers satisfied with the promptness and convenience of the rendered financial services in the US within the first 6 months following its entry.
The company should get 5,000 new followers from the US for its Facebook page and 5,000 new followers from the US for its Instagram page.
New publications posted on the aforementioned social media pages must be liked or reposted by 100+ individuals from the US on the average within the first 6 months following the market entry.
The preference for online promotion also produces substantial savings in terms of advertising costs.
Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning (STP)
From the segmentation standpoint, Monzo is interested in several categories of users. First, its offering is highly appealing to tech-savvy and innovative customers seeking a fully online banking experience (Coulter et al., 2019). Second, its lower servicing costs and partnerships with money transfer and insurance services providers make it lucrative for the persons interested in costs optimisation (Weiss, 2019). These factors suggest that online targeting may be more effective for reaching these two segments since both of these categories are actively using online platforms to search for new information and monitor interesting technological and financial trends. In terms of positioning, Monzo removes the psychological borderlines between its customers and the brand by maintaining full transparency in the discussion of its own flaws (Carey, 2018). It went as far as allowing consumers to choose a new name for the company in 2016 (Monzo, 2016). This approach may be seen as a unique and highly provocative one in the traditional banking industry relying on separation from the users and the image based on concealment of problems. The bold and straightforward positioning of Monzo should be retained in the US market as one of the key differentiating elements of its brand identity.
Online Value Proposition
It can be suggested that the online value proposition of Monzo should emphasise such qualities as functionality, cost advantages, security, and overall transparency (Ryan, 2016). As opposed to traditional banks, this organisation can work with its consumers directly to assist them in reaching their financial goals (Burgess, 2019).
The integration of the aforementioned elements should be performed via the demonstration of both the brand and its ideal customer image in all advertising materials and blog posts (Kennada, 2019).
Specific tools for promoting Monzo to US consumers may include social media marketing, context advertisements, and live events (Ryan, 2016). The three primary communication platforms should be the corporate website, the official Instagram page, and the official Facebook page. Considering the focus on direct customer engagement, official YouTube videos or traditional advertising may be less effective and should be omitted during the first months of the campaign (Kennada, 2019).
Tactics (E-Marketing Mix)
Table 2: E-Marketing Mix
According to Sokowski (2015), all objectives must be SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound).
Social Media Marketing
For the Facebook campaign, Monzo should focus on publishing posts about ‘financial literacy’ and the ways to cut costs and increase customer convenience through the use of online banking (Weiss, 2019). These posts should not be associated with sales activities directly but may include links to the corporate website, products, or blog publications. For Instagram marketing, the company should utilise the same approach realised in the UK and focus on the promotion of user experiences, lifestyle recommendations, and user-generated content rather than advertising materials. This will allow the bank to fully utilise the visual appeal of this platform and lead consumers into adding #Monzo tags to their personal publications to increase the overall marketing reach (Patel, 2019a).
Contests and Engagement Campaigns
The previous recommendation should lead to several online contests based on both hashtagged visual content and textual ideas (Patel, 2019b). The company should offer valuable prizes for offering Monzo-inspired photos on Instagram and cost optimisation ideas in Facebook comments. This way, it can appeal to both earlier identified customer segments more effectively (Kennada, 2019).
Finally, the company needs to organise several live events in each of the three targeted cities to promote its products, increase its market exposure, and build customer trust through direct communication and experiential marketing (Kennada, 2019). The promotion of these meetings should be performed in accordance with the earlier performed customer profiling and focus on younger and tech-savvy audiences (Ryan, 2016). It may be possible to partner with technology exhibitions and other innovative events to capitalise on the overall concept of innovativeness and advanced consumer experience.
The three utilised marketing strategies must be closely controlled in terms of their intermediary and final outcomes. In the case of social media marketing, Monzo needs to track several performance indicators, namely the number of likes and reposts, the number of comments, the number of brand references, and the number of leads produced by individual campaign activities (Ryan, 2016). Additionally, the company should monitor consumer proactivity, namely the intention to proactively establish communication on social media to learn more about the offered products and services. In addition to the above-mentioned measures, Monzo should control the signs of consumer dissatisfaction that frequently occurs during various online lotteries and contests (Hanlon, 2019). It must ensure that the prize distribution is performed in a highly transparent manner and the winners are real persons ready to confirm the campaign fairness. In terms of live events, the company should focus on the resulting number of leads, the number of distributed debit cards, positive reviews in offline and online media, and the customer satisfaction expressed on various online platforms (Chaffey and Ellis-Chadwick, 2019). If some of these indicators are sub-optimal, it may be necessary to organise events in different cities or locations or discard this approach completely.
It can be summarised that Monzo has good prospects of success in the US market but needs to clearly demonstrate its advantages as a digital bank to the two selected customer segments (Hofacker, 2018). This effect can be achieved by building trust via social media engagement, live events, and various contests and campaigns (Kennada, 2019). If this initial launch in three cities proves successful, it may be possible to expand the reach to additional major locations depending on the results of geotargeting tracking and the number of search requests analysis for various US regions.
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