Compared to Your Competition…
The end of every year brings out lists of the best, the worst, the most, the top, and they’re usually compiled with numbers like the 50 best, the top 10, and so on. (Don’t worry. This isn’t another one of those lists.)
An Advertising Age article compiled the 10 nastiest comparative campaigns of the past year. You’ve seen ads like this for a long time. One brand claims it’s better than the competitor it names…Mac and PC…Verizon and AT&T…Coke and Pepsi…coffees, soups, sandwiches, pizzas, beers, cars, trucks, and on and on.
The magazine’s story reminds me of a strategy used during the first decade-plus of free checking account marketing. The direct marketing mail packages (both envelopes and self-mailers) included comparison charts. The charts measured the client financial institution’s checking accounts…typically free checking, 50+ checking, and one other account…against specific comparable accounts of its competition.
And they NAMED the competitors.
It was easy in the ’80s and early ’90s. Free checking was rare. So was a free account for customers over age 50. The bank with the new checking program was likely to be the only one in the market with those accounts. The free account was compared to “regular” checking accounts that had monthly service charges and needed minimum balances.
It was easy to make your accounts look better than any others in town.
But the popularity of free checking spread and as more and more financial institutions added similar accounts to their product lineups, the comparison charts showed fewer and fewer competitor names. Differences weren’t as dramatic.
That happens in all industries. Whether it’s a clothing design, a car style, or the latest electronic gadget, some company has the edge until the others see it works and come up with look-alike products.
In the mid-1990s, ACTON Marketing tested mail pieces with and without comparison charts. The no-chart versions pulled the same results. So rather than run comparisons with a few nearly identical accounts or stretch the comparison to unreasonable lengths, ACTON recommended that our clients drop the charts. Their usefulness as a competitive edge was gone.
Being a financial services marketer, you want to look at the competitors in your market and find what separates your organization from the others. What’s your competitive edge? Your USP…Unique Selling Proposition?
Like the old checking account comparison charts, like the current head-to-head product comparisons in other industries, you need to promote whatever it is that makes your products and services special.
Find that edge and advertise it.
ACTON created the first free checking account direct mail marketing promotions in 1982.