Sunday, March 21, 2010

CONNECT- New marketing program for credit card companies

One of the biggest challenges for credit card companies is to increase spends on the credit card. In order to achieve it, they do regular tie-ups with restaurants, pubs, bowling alleys and what not to offer discounts to customers.Almost every credit card company does it, hence there is too much clutter and commotion that even the greatest offer probably gets lost.More important the entire communication is one way and is very boring. As Seth Godin puts it" If people aren't discussing your products, your services, your cause, your movement or your career, there's a reason. The reason is that you're boring.

Is there are refreshingly new way to increase card spends? Are credit card companies ready to look at some trends that will help them create remarkable promotions to increase spends?

The trends:

  • Thanks to social media, consumers are looking for every opportunity to network or to build relationship
  • Call it location based services or Geotagging is getting popular. Twitter has launched this service by end of Nov 2009
  • Consumers are looking for opportunities to spend
  • If there is a web 2.0, marketing 2.0, Me 2.0 then there should also be a Promotions 2.0.. How can consumers generate promotions/offers?
Typically, every credit card company looks at discount offer as 'hero' in the communication( 20% off at the Taj, 15% at the Spa and how many more 'Me too' offers that fills up your letter box or email box),I wish to turn the whole approach on its head. If the consumers are looking for opportunities to meet/spend, Lets " CONNECT'  them. This would mean that the  occasion for the meeting should be the primary focus( 'hero') and let the discounts offered by the card company be incidental. Would like to explain this approach through a simple example. Assume I have an XYZ Bank credit card. Lets call the marketing program as " CONNECT" 
  • XYZ Bank should have all offers in a website
  • The portal should give me a choice to create an CONNECT ecard for the occasion
  • Let's say I want to meet up with my college friend Ashok and I know he is the Chennai.
  • The website should have multiple card choices ranging from formal to whacky depending on the occasion
  • Once I create the ecard, I should be able to pick up a location from the list in the website.
  • The ecard thus created will probably read like" Hey Buddy... Long time, Lets meet up at Anokhi( a popular coffee shop in Chennai) ". The Anokhi's address will be pushed into the ecard automatically.
  • Once the card is ready, it will sent to Ashok's email id and to his mobile as SMS.
  • XYZ Bank is offering a discount at Anokhi but the hero in the consumer generated communication is the meeting with the friend. The discount offer becomes incidental
If we have to take this consumer generated promotion to the next level, thanks to the proliferation of GPS enabled smart phones, an application like Loopt will help identify both my location and Ashok's location. Using this geo info, the creditcard company can come up with auto suggest CONNECT Cards based on location to meet, occasion and the availability of  discount offer. Using this info, I can send an ecard to Ashok and am sure it will sweep him of his feet. To reinforce the core of the program, the meeting between friends is the hero,discount at the store is incidental. The card company will stand to gain through this innovative promotion of ecards.

Waiting to send my ecard and create an occasion to build relationship. Truly remarkable..Lets CONNECT

Monday, March 08, 2010

Test drive a Honda in the night- Experiential Marketing

With a plethora of car launches, every car maker is looking to create a remarkable product at low cost to achieve competitive advantage. In order to achieve a tectonic shift is preferences, car manufacturers will have to go beyond the conventional market pitches like 

  • Extra Power - BHP
  • Fuel mileage
  • iVTEc engines
  • Luxury
  • Status Symbols
to name a few. I am not suggesting that these are not important but are certainly beaten to death positioning tracks. Marketers have to move beyond static one way communication for positioning to more meaningful interaction with potential car buyers.

Enter experiential marketing defined as " a concept that integrates elements of emotions, logic, and general thought processes to connect with the consumer. The goal of experiential marketing is to establish the connection in such a way that the consumer responds to a product offering based on both emotional and rational response levels".

Car makers are using the concepts like test drive to appeal to the customer experience value quotient. By carefully identifying and improving the product ,service value, image & personal value and costs like  time, energy, psychic costs to customers, the customer experience value quotient can be boosted significantly. In fact, the intangible elements may be the hardest things for your competitors to copy, and therefore, surest strategy to sustainable value superiority. This can be learnt through outcome based research like ethnography to observe customers in their natural surroundings, revealing a more accurate and realistic viewpoint of the dimensions of the customer's value equation.

Test drive is certainly an excellent way to improve interaction hence experience. But wait a minute!!!what is so different about this approach? What I am suggesting is a test drive with a difference. The main focus is on experience not just at behind the steering wheel but in the rear seat as well. Why this change? Mainly for 3 reasons from a marketers perspective:
  • Competitive mental angle - differentiation
  • In most test drive, the men( actual decision maker) experience technical details sitting behind the steering wheel. They invariably never get a chance to sit in the rear seat and experience luxury which they offer to their families.When will he get a chance to experience it?
  • More woman shoppers as influencer for car purchase - No more just Vrooom Vroom
 I suggest this plan for Honda for they genuinely make great cars and  offer luxury at relatively affordable cost.

Test Drive Campaign with a difference:Instead of regular test drive during daytime, lets say Honda wants its potential buyers to experience luxury( beyond the regular rational benefits). The campaign should be as follows:
  • The promo is for a test drive in the night - chauffeur driven car.
  • The potential buyer can call up a Honda dealer for a test drive
  • Honda will send a car to the customers office or a place of his choice @specified time lets say 8.30pm
  • Without any surprises, given our work schedules, the customer will be drop dead tired.
  • Imagine yourself as a buyer. You are drop dead tired. You have a chauffeur driven luxury car with a music of your choice and better still you are going to sit in the rear seat for a drive back home.
  • This experience of luxury is very different in comparison to the regular test drive. I am sure that this drive will pamper the potential buyer that it will create a huge purchase predisposition.
  • With everything remaining equal or atleast perceived to be equal, this 'campaign with a difference' will sway the purchase decision in favor of Honda.
  • The marketer also gets to observe his customers in their natural surroundings, revealing a more accurate and realistic viewpoint of the dimensions of the customer's value equation.
Without doubt, the campaign needs to have a detailed execution plan. But as thought, it is a shift from normal.Now the statement '"Experience luxury" may not sound cliched.