ABA Banking Journal - June 2007 - (Page 54)
MARKETING brand is about. The web lets you do things that you can’t really do on TV anymore, because nobody’s going to pay attention, they’ll just TiVo it. Koval On TV, when you’re leaning back, zoning out, watching “Lost” or whatever, we’re just trying to generate awareness, create good feelings. But when you’re leaning forward and clicking away on your computer, now I have a chance to really engage you. So is it all about the web, then? Kaplan Thaler Well, I read an amazing article the other day. We keep hearing about how popular blogs are and that’s the new place to be, that’s where the election is going to be decided, and all that. The author took the number of blogs and averaged things out, and found that the average blog is read by one person. So, that means that there are a zillion blogs out there that nobody’s reading at all, except maybe the author. So you have to sort of put these things in perspective. Yes, a voice can come through that way. But what are the odds that you’re going to really break through and connect with the public that way? Koval As in any revolution, it’s always about the idea. But everybody right now is very susceptible to the “Hey! That’s cool! Let’s try that” pattern. Some of it will stick, and some of it we’ll be laughing about ten years from now. Think back to the dot.coms. Amazon was a really, really good idea. Pets.com wasn’t. One of the things that we say in Bang! continues to apply, and that is the whole notion of trusting your gut, and being intuitive, when things are confusing. If you are going to produce a “bang,” it will be because you’ve invented something that’s authentic and new, versus following somebody else’s rule. If you cook from a Julia Child cookbook, you’re never going to cook anything better than Julia Child. You’ll just imitate her. But if you make up your own recipe, who knows? It might be the best dish you’ve ever had. Something that has hurt bankers in their marketing is being a highly regulated industry. How do you get past that? Kaplan Thaler We do a lot of pharmaceutical advertising, and, being involved with a banking account was a holiday compared to pharmaceuticals, because you don’t put money into your bloodstream. Koval Don’t focus on what you can’t do, but on what you can. The most successful advertising is often about taking that left turn. Also, bankers have to get into the mindset of, “I am a creative person,” and not, “I am a banker, and that’s boring compared to people who make movies,” or whatever. We’re all creative, we all go to work every day wanting to feel we’ve created something. How did the U.S Bank ads develop? Kaplan Thaler U.S. Bancorp’s mantra is “Five-Star Service Guaranteed.” The company wanted to use it as a basis of comparison to other banking institutions, to tell people what five star service means. We thought it would be funny to accentuate the negative, in terms of what the other banks are doing. That’s always an easy way to make your point. So we ended up doing these ads about banks that don’t have five star service. Koval One thing we found in our research: There isn’t a consumer around who doesn’t have a war story to tell about a bad banking experience. So we wanted to let them know that we “got it.” That U.S. Bank understands. Another theme the bank felt was important is that whether a firm is large or small, it will be recognized at U.S. Bank. If you are a bank, you have to isolate what you are doing so that you can’t be too similar to somebody else. You have to be pretty disruptive. Kaplan Thaler Of course, Washington Mutual’s spots were already making fun of what other banks do, so we had to be careful to carve out the right niche for U.S. Bank, and that was that they are the only ones that have five-star service. What are some of the challenges of marketing a bank? Koval People tend to commoditize their perceptions of banks: “They all do the same thing.” So how do you differentiate them? It’s the same in shampoo. They all get your hair clean. Yet the story of Herbal Essence, told in Bang!, illustrates how a completely different approach worked. It is actually infrequent where we work in a category where the company is the first of its kind. The challenge is succeeding when things are quite similar, when consumers have many choices and are confused. They see 5,000 messages every day, maybe 2,000 of them from banks. The challenge, right now, is as banks and other advertisers continue to experiment with so many new venues to use, the measurement tools haven’t been completely worked out yet. When you’re in the midst of the revolution, you don’t quite know what will stick and what won’t. So you are seeing a scattering of efforts. Kaplan Thaler You need to find a way to get your message out everywhere. And that’s because we don’t know where the consumer is going to be at any given point in time. It’s not necessarily about spending more money, but about putting better stuff out there, because with too many choices, consumers can just click away. BJ “If you are going to produce a ‘bang,’ it will be because you invented something authentic. If you cook from a Julia Child cookbook, you’re never going to cook anything better than Julia Child” 54 JUNE 2007/ABA BANKING JOURNAL www.ababj.com/subscribe.html
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