Marketing – for whose benefit?

This post is written by Debbie Watkins, SBI’s Head, Implementation for the Alternative Delivery Channels practice.

Photo Credit: Marketing Sherpa

An unfortunate truth:  the vast majority of advertising agencies design beautiful campaigns that will get THEM new clients, when they should be designing relevant campaigns that will get YOU new clients. Mark Stevens, the author of “Your Marketing Sucks” and owner of (I’m a big fan), advises his readers to check whether the company they’re hiring has won any awards for creativity – and if so, not to hire them.

I like that approach. The aim of your marketing campaign is not to get people to say “ooooooh, that’s a nice ad” but instead “that product can really solve some problems for me.” As the old adage goes, when you want to sell a drill, don’t actually sell the drill – sell the hole…

Trying to convince low-income consumers currently operating in an almost exclusively cash-based society to change their financial services provider is not easy. And when their existing “financial services provider” could be a hole in their mattress, or the next-door neighbor, relevance and clearly understood value is essential . A large percentage of the informal services they’re using right now are “free” (although they undoubtedly have a cost associated with them).

So marketing messages shouldn’t focus on the phone and how cool it is. They also shouldn’t focus on the bank and how large it is – the consumer knows that anyway, and they haven’t been using it for a reason (and I hope you know what that reason is, and if it’s for any reason other than accessibility I hope you’ve done something to fix it).  Marketing should focus very clearly on how your solution addresses the problems faced by your target market that were identified in the market research you undertook. bKash, SBI’s mobile financial services client in Bangladesh, has some great examples.


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