Friday, March 12, 2010
Be my Bastard
Consumer insights are a good thing. Knowing how people think about your issue or brand gives ideas a handy reality check.
But insight alone is not a strategy.
Take this poster pasted up at Windsor station.
The insight is clear; people think banks are opportunistic, fee-hungry undesirables.
Hence the headline: Sign up to fight unfair banking. And what I presume to be the new NAB tagline: More give, less take.
Which would all be fine if you were something other than one of the big four banks who created the unfair banking in the first place.
Bendigo Bank could run this poster. The teacher's credit union could run it.
But NAB can't.
Every time any of the big banks report those multi-billion dollar profits, people think of all the petty little ways their hard-earned savings have been siphoned off.
Two bucks to use another bank's ATM. Six bucks for making 'too many' transactions. Thirty-five bucks for bouncing a cheque.
The irritating nature and random lack of generosity of these charges (ATM fees are a particularly naked brand of opportunism) stick in the craw most.
While it may well be true that the ninja account has no 'unfair' fees, it's certain they're gonna get you somewhere else.
So why persist with this strategy? There must be something in it since each of the big four are all doing variations of the same theme.
ANZ has 'Barbara' the bank manager.
CommBank has their good marketing folk protecting us from the shallow American ad guys.
Westpac's have their 'Dog WIth A Bone' managers.
And now NAB.
No doubt that all these spots will 'track well'. They play to our preconceptions.
But they don't change them.
Nobody likes being sold to. And we're pretty good at spotting phoneys.
Because banks won't and can't stop charging the infuriating fees they do, the strategy of 'we're your friend, we're just like you' will, in the end, fail.
They're banks. Big, huge, behemothic banks.
And THAT surely is where the gold lies.
In fact, the big four banks are all amongst the twenty biggest banks in the world. And through acquisition both here and overseas, they're only getting bigger.
They're also rated amongst the world's safest. And most profitable.
If my bank is big, safe and knows how to make money, I'll forgive them the paltry fees. Because they are doing the job I hired them to do: keep my money safe.
So that's the rolled-gold, Able & Baker-approved Big Bank Strategy. We might be bastards, but we're good at being bastards. So let us be your bastard.
I'd rather have a hard-nosed bastard in charge of my super than a nice chap with a pleasant smile and a flair for tea-cakes, wouldn't you?
Of course, as a strategy it isn't especially new.
Over to you, Hannibal....