Archive for the ‘financial’ category

Lincoln Forgets to Memorialize Its Name

August 21st, 2011

For over a year now there’s been an engaging series of  TV commercials, each of which shows a man in his 30s or 40s meeting an older version of himself and asking, “How did we do?” in terms of planning for his financial future.  In all cases, the older version of the man assures the younger one that he ends up doing a good job, but cautions him to keep planning since “retirement isn’t the finish line.”  For the most part, the ads are quite well done, in part because it’s interesting to see how each man looks at two different ages, but mostly because it’s a compelling way to drive home the importance–and rewards–of smart financial planning.

The only problem: the company doing the advertising–Lincoln Financial Group–is virtually invisible.  You only hear the name and see the corporate logo at the very end of the spots, and they’re presented in a very uninteresting way.  Thus, the ads succeed at selling the concept of financial planning but fail to create awareness of Lincoln Financial Group.

It seems to me that if your brand features the name “Lincoln” and your corporate logo features a profile of Honest Abe, your advertising should somehow leverage the image of the man if you want to ensure that people remember that you’re the one doing the advertising.  For example, you might draw a parallel between Abraham Lincoln’s visionary leadership and Lincoln Financial Group’s visionary financial planning.  Or, if you don’t what to go that far, at least do something cleverly memorable in the way you present the brand name and logo rather than simply slapping it on the back end  of a 30-second commercial.

Far too many commercials do a great job of telling a story and a lousy job of reminding the viewer whose story it is.  I think it’s because there are too many agency creatives who’d rather be writing screenplays and who–so that their advertising doesn’t “look like advertising”–call as little attention to the brand being advertised as the advertiser will let them get away with.

Make sure your agency understands that they are in fact writing stories about a star.  The star just happens to be not an actor, but your brand.

Credit Card Marketers: PartnersFirst Puts Customers First

August 26th, 2009

Marketing isn’t what you say; it’s what you do. In light of that, is there an industry that has done a worse job of marketing–or treating its customers–than the credit card industry? Think about it: First, they ask you to become a customer, often luring you with powerful enticements. Next, they follow up by begging you to spend more money with them, such as by transferring other account balances or using checks that they send you (which you never requested, by the way). Then, all of a sudden, they decide to jack up your interest rate and your minimum payment, even if you’ve never missed a payment. In short, they seductively reel you in and literally go out of their way to put you into a financial situation that can become onerous at best and disastrous at worst. Why would any customer who has gone through this experience reward such a company with its loyalty? 

(Note: I’m not saying that customers aren’t guilty of having charged more than they should have; I’m just saying that considering the complicity of the credit card companies, their shabby treatment of their customers is unconscionable.)

Actually, I suspect that most customers of these credit card companies don’t consider themselves to be loyal to them, and that they’re still with them only because they can’t afford to pay off their balance. I would hope, however, that at the first opportunity these customers will abandon their current credit card companies never to patronize them again.

If they do, there is a new credit card company that appears to be much more deserving of their loyalty: PartnersFirst. This refreshing new company offers much lower interest rates and doesn’t levy annual fees or late-payment charges. In the words of founder and president Hal Erskine, “I realized there was an opportunity to give cardholders a square deal and still make a profit.”

I’ve always felt that if you want to launch a new business, you should do it in an industry where the existing companies aren’t giving customers the quality and service they deserve. PartnersFirst has done exactly that, and I for one will be cheering for them to finish first.