Written by: Nicole Leong
Spaceship , a high-tech superannuation product pitched at millennials, achieved what most financial services marketers and CEOs dream of – 20,000 people pre-registered for their launch. Perhaps this is even more remarkable given the product is super, a product with notoriously low engagement, and the pre-registrants are millennials for which retirement seems light years away.
To say Spaceship was well received is a bit of an understatement. Despite commentary on the product, its fees and whether it’s a sound investment, they raised $1.6 million in funding, had tens of thousands people engaged with the product before it had even launched and are picking up industry awards, all in less than a year. In the tech start-up world that’s pretty unusual for anything that isn’t launched by a big player like Apple or Google, and in the financial services industry it’s almost unheard of.
Watching from the sidelines, we were intrigued. Why was this launch so successful? Here are our thoughts on what makes a financial product a success.
Narrative, storytelling and a clear USP
If you’ve checked out Spaceship’s website, you’ll know they have nailed at least two things at which tech companies are great at and most financial services companies aren’t.
They know who they are, they know the problem they’re trying to solve, and they know who their customers are (hint: it’s not “everyone”).
There is nothing “me too” about the company making it clearly differentiated from every other super fund.
Also, they tell their story in inclusive, aspirational language that millennials can relate to. Words like ‘believe’ and ‘aspire’ feature heavily, conveying that they are a brand who believes in something and lives those beliefs. ‘Tomorrow’ is also a word you’ll see often, giving you the impression they’re about the future, maybe even your future.
Not the usual branding
Take a look at Spaceship’s logo and the design of their collateral. It’s not your usual financial services branding, with smiling, grey-haired retirees hitting the open road. Instead they’ve gone with a visually striking, fresh and memorable look and feel. It makes you think innovative online service, not boring finance product. It speaks to their target audience in terms of who they are now, not who’ll they be in 40 years’ time.
Influencers and hype
We’ve discussed the power of influencers in previous blogs and how it’s an important part of any marketing mix. We’ve used it before including for our own marketing as we discussed at a Morningstar event. And Spaceship is an excellent example of making it work. What Spaceship did very well was get big name influencers in early, including as co-founders. We’re not talking celebrities here (though, in some circles they may considered celebrities), they’re leaders in their fields. Spaceship had over 50 high profile influencers across tech, fintech and other sectors, all of which had a high level of credibility. This added a weight to Spaceship which made sure it wasn’t just another tech start-up, but a real contender.
With this weight they built hype around the product, driving considerable earned media (you would have seen some of the coverage which felt like it was everywhere) and therefore user interest. It was this hype which was leveraged to sign up a massive number of pre-registrations before they even launched.
In all things, success is rarely pure luck. As Seth Godin said, “Obviously, knowing what to do is very, very different than actually doing it”.
So, for your next product launch, what are you going to do differently?