The editor of decisionmarketing.co.uk, a well-set fellow, whom I hugely admire, with several acres under chickens and a devil-may-care attitude to matters marketing, recently said to me: “You know Spooner, my friends in the banking industry are about as popular these days as a King Charles Spaniel in a Republican Cattery. I’d like to know what you marketing Johnnies are going to cocking well do about it. Well?”
He stood there, striking his boot repeatedly with his riding crop and gently caressing the large bantam he keeps in his top hat. As I shoveled his priceless guano into the hopper, I began to ponder…
The simple answer to the question “How can financial companies restore trust in their industry?”, is “quite slowly”. But that doesn’t really help.
My agency naturally believes it has a more useful answer and it is one that forward-thinking businesses are just beginning to appreciate. With a few, very enlightened clients we are beginning to set up online communities of consumers who share their views with us on every aspect of the personal banking business.
We talk to them about mortgages, savings, investments, insurance, pensions and even their experience of dealing with their bank or building society in-branch, over the phone and online.
And we do it in real-time.
Furthermore we use some very intelligent proprietary planning tools to monitor conversations about our clients’ brands in the online universe.
And very shortly we will begin to use these communities, divided into meaningful categories such as “affluent empty-nesters”, “first time buyers” and “urban 20-somethings”, to develop new products, adjust old ones – and even to co-create the marketing executions we use to talk with them.
And the magical word in that sentence is a small preposition: “WITH”. Because banks and building societies are only going to rebuild trust in the consumer by marketing ‘with’ not ‘at’ their audiences.
Spookily, ‘with not at’ is the mantra that we chant here at Tangible Towers every day as the lissome Ms Ellis guides us through our daily Bikram Yoga sessions in the superheated basement next to the hissing boiler.
“Now look here Spooner, you spineless cur! I hope you’re not using the valuable space I’m allowing you here in my Magnificent Online Organ to plug your ghastly agency? Are you? Hmmm?” asks the powerfully-built, achingly-handsome Charlie McKelvey, editor-in-chief and reformed plutocrat.
“No sir, not me. I am merely repeating a self-evident truth. Shall I move the Rhode Island Reds into the quince orchard, sir?”
Jonathan Spooner is creative partner at Tangible