The integration with the sales force is a fabulous part of the strategy here. Many marketers make the mistake of not recognizing that the best marketing efforts are wasted if the sales channel does not cooperate. The relationship between banks and small business has typically been strained; using incentives and testimonials meant members of the sales force not only were more receptive to small business, but also sought them out. Staggering the mailing also meant that follow-up from the branch personnel was more likely.
The promise of approval within 24 hours showed an understanding of the time-pressed nature of small business owners, as well as their desire to know the outcome of an application as quickly as possible. In addition, the messaging was very customer-centered; the campaign was designed to express what a small business owner wants ("I want . . ."), rather than to highlight what the bank offers.
Also notable is the positioning of the loans for businesses rather than small businesses. Many small business owners do not think of their businesses as small; to them, it's just a business.
Another illustration of VanCity's understanding of its market is the frequent use of women in the creative. The Small Loan Program offered loans ranging in value from Can$5,000 to Can$35,000, which means their audience was likely smaller businesses. Women-owned businesses tend to be smaller than the average business (see Chapter 1).
The strategy of running a pilot meant that they were able to anticipate problems in the system before upsetting clients and staff, avoiding further erosion of the relationship between the bank and small business. In addition, creating hype in non-participating branches probably increased sales and awareness.
The letter creative was not particularly unusual in the small business market, but the message itself is what sold. The clear, focused promise is fantastic.
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