Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mirror Mirror on the wall, Who is the best marketer of them all??? My answer might well surprise you

So ... this has been quite a hiatus ... and it is good to be back in writing and ranting mode again. For the benefit of those who wondered and pondered my absence (not many as I have precious 2 followers – and yes one of them is my cousin) I went back to school and now armed with an MBA ... am ready and raring to torment you with my musings.

I take this opportunity to thank all folks from the IVEY EMBA Winter 2011 class, who with their wealth of experience and knowledge have contributed immensely to make this experience fruitful and fun. Kudos to a fabulous class and a wonderful faculty at IVEY... you all have been absolutely BRILLIANT!!!

The past couple of years has been witness to a whole lot of strategic marketing initiatives from the usual suspects ... Levers - doing a great job in continuing with the fun and risque theme for Axe and upping the ante

P&G - Strategic and solid with that hint of humour and irreverence of Old Spice. The doyen of all brands ... Coke celebrating its 125th year in myriad ways and Pepsi going back to what it knows best ... building brands outside of the carbonated beverages segment.

Whilst above organizations garner all the laurels, a category of marketers toil away making their mark, in probably the most commoditized business of all - 'The business of money' i.e. BANKING. Money is Money ... anywhere anytime, and yet these highly disciplined, focussed, deliberate, strategic marketers with financial institutions have been able to impart a level of differentiation and unique positioning for each of their bank brands and their financial offerings. When juxtaposed against the recent economic meltdown ... not to mention the current that we are in the midst off...these marketers deserve accolades. And this does beg the question - Why????

In an era of IP infringement (Apple v/s Samsung…not to mention the Apple stores in China), big brand blowouts … Toyota and Honda losing their brand lustre, the long term marketing strategy and coherence that marketing teams of financial institutions have adhered to … is commendable. If only their brethren in the financial / trading divisions were as disciplined, the world would have been saved from the financial meltdown. Increasingly, marketers bereft of long term strategic thinking are resorting to short term tactical initiatives backed by great story telling (thanks to some very creative agencies and thought shops) and painting these successes as strategy. Brand sustainability and relevance are sacrificed for short term fillip in terms of market share …or should I say … ‘Shelf Space’.

Traditional marketing is dead…long live marketing. Today, marketing is a harmonious mix of technology, customer experience, compelling propositions / positioning and seamless execution across channels (on-line and in-store, as customer is increasingly channel agnostic) and media. No one embodies this new marketing age and embraces it as much as folks in financial marketing roles. Their ability to leverage technology to know more customers, more about customers in terms of analysis, outreach / delivery and analytics is astounding. The financial marketers fusion of technology and traditional strategic marketing perspective stressing upon segmentation, positioning and frequency has led to some marketing gems, both in terms of statements as well as ownership colour and visuals eg. Red – Scotiabank, Green – TD such as…

1) Chase

a. The unique Blue Hexagon encompassing a square

2) Scotiabank

a. Colour – Red

b. Positioning statement - You are richer than you think

3) TD

a. Colour – Green

b. The leather single seat sofa (for want of a better word)

c. Statement – Open 7 days a week

4) RBC

a. Colour – Blue & Gold

Needless to say that marketing teams at banks / financial institutions are at the forefront of marketing as it morphs from the traditional 4P’s to the modern 5 W’s and 1 H

Who – Who is the customer that buys?

What – What does the customer buy?

When – When do they buy?

Where –Where do they want to transact?

Why – Why do they want to transact?

How – How does the customer use the product

For these marketers the lure of Cannes is dull when compared to the lucre what a new credit card customer brings. And to all those in the field of financial marketing … Kudos to you all and keep up the great work!!!!