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posted by Cathy Monetti May 12,2009 @ 07:37AM

The Power of Control

Third in a series analyzing seven new economy trends

A recent article in MONEY magazine says it all: It’s finally sinking in: No one is looking out for you but you.

It’s true. Self-security is the new entitlement, the article states, because we don’t trust anybody anymore. We’ve been flat-out misled by accountants, regulators, rating agencies, stock analysts, mutual funds, hedge funds, mortgage brokers, banks, and CEOs, it says. So much so that in a recent MONEY poll, half of the respondents said they don’t trust financial advisors.

I find that to be a startling statistic, and if you’re the marketing director of a financial institution, it’s one you should carefully consider. This is a pivotal time in the life of your brand as the health of your relationship with half of your customers is at risk. It’s also a time of unprecedented opportunity, since the same is true for your competitors.

Let’s consider “no one is looking out for me but me” for what it really is in marketing terms: a powerful consumer insight that speaks to a basic human need. How can you meet that need? An obvious path is to demonstrate that your company/service is looking out for the best interest of your customer. (This is a SHOW, not a TELL.) But here’s another direction that might be more relevant in this new economy:

Do what you can to give your customer a sense of control.

Give your customer a choice. By exercising choice, your customer will feel a sense of control over their environment. But be careful not to overwhelm. Two options can be plenty.
Let your customer talk. Open the door to two-way conversation, be it in-branch (or in-store), via telephone or online. Ask, and your customers will not only tell you what they need, they will feel relieved and more confident.
Give your customer something to do. Nothing replaces a sense of vulnerability faster than taking action. What if you offered a free seminar on local vacation planning? Budget conscious meal options? Online selling? (Note I’m not talking about traditional financial management topics, although they are an obvious option.)

Basic tenets of human behavior apply here. Give your customers a sense a certainty, as best you can, and they will repay you with their loyalty.

Up Next: The Power of Humanity

posted by Cathy Monetti May 04,2009 @ 01:19PM

The Power of Simplicity

The second in a series analyzing seven new economy trends

“Let’s make it more complicated." In 20 years as a creative director, I don’t believe I’ve ever uttered that sentence to my team or to a client. So it seems a little silly to spend time and energy writing here about the need to keep your communications simple.

Except that so few of us ever truly work the other end of the spectrum with intent. That is to say, how often do we look at a program and say “How can we make it more simple?” In the daily rush of deadlines and wildfires, we develop solutions, integrate layer upon layer of “collaborative” input (usually to get it approved quickly and easily), and as fast as is humanly possible, we deploy.

And where do we aim? Right at today’s new economy consumer, a person so emotionally overwhelmed he or she can hardly process critical information, much less a complicated marketing message.

My advice is this: The next time you develop a piece of communications, add to your process a step in which you take a moment, step back, and say with intention: How can we make this more simple? Then start stripping away. I guarantee your properly targeted audience will not only be more receptive—they’ll consider your offering a welcome lifeline.

Up Next: The Power of Control

The third in a series analyzing seven new economy trends




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