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un·in·spired Adjective – Lacking in imagination or originality
Yesterday I was walking through a neighborhood in Chicago and noticed this ad for Fifth Third Bank. As I posted on Twitter, you’d think that a bank this size could come up with a more compelling, relevant marketing message. It is a nice sentiment. The intent of the message seems safe enough…but is anyone likely to pay attention?
Fifth Third is a regional bank headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. They have $111 billion in assets, 6 million customers and 1,314 branches. Given their size and the diversity of their markets, you’d expect a rather sophisticated and strategic approach to marketing messages.
Admittedly, they are challenged to reach out to a wide range of audiences. In recent days they’ve announced various Hispanic Heritage Month events and activities in some of their markets. They also expanded their alliance with nationally syndicated radio talk show host Dave Ramsey on educating high school students about personal finance. So, why this rather uninspired signage in a demographically diverse urban market?
Their website declares “To win and retain the loyalty of our growing and diverse customer base, our staff, signage and marketing messages have to reflect the consumers for whom we work to provide financial solutions.” The above ad seems to miss on two fronts:
- Most research into consumer behavior suggests consumer confidence is down and many segments of the population continue to be more concerned over immediate financial needs rather than long-term “dreams”; and
- The standing that financial institutions once held as a trusted partner has been tarnished by the recession, sluggish recovery and negative news about Wall Street. “Working together” is over used and likely to be undervalued by the banking customer – especially given the post-recession consumer move toward self-reliance.
Marketing messages must align with your target audiences’ mindset and current needs. An ad, no matter how much space it is given, will not compel a consumer to act if it is perceived to be inauthentic or out of touch.
According to a report in the New York Times, the United States Federal Reserve said yesterday that “a complete economic recovery was still years away.” That grim assessment of the US economy sent global stocks into decline today. Add to that the news of unending gridlock over the President’s jobs bill, new census data on families living in poverty and renewed debate over millionaires’ tax burden – and you can hardly get through a day without thoughts about money.
But what are you thinking? How do you process these news stories?
A few years ago I had an opportunity to work with Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money, preparing a not-for-profit board to embrace their role as fundraisers. Throughout her career Lynne has raised hundreds of millions of dollars and trained thousands of fundraisers to rethink their relationship with money. She has an amazing ability to strip away the myths many of us hold about money. It was a transformative experience for many.
So the headlines of the past few days prompted me to reread portions of her book and I appreciated anew her approach to our cultural beliefs about money – especially her discussion about the mindset of scarcity and the sufficiency of life. I particularly appreciated her reflections on our interconnectedness and her challenging of the current economic paradigm of “us vs. them”, “rich vs. poor”, “have vs. have not.”
So if you’re starting this day with fearful thoughts about the economy, take a few moments to consider this brief 10 minute video from Lynne’s Soul of Money Institute and reflect on your relationship to money. Feel free to share your comments.
As I watched yesterday’s commemorations of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks I was stirred by so many sounds and images and words. Upon additional reflection I realized the day held an important reminder for marketers and fundraisers: there is power in an individual’s name.
In an open field in Shanksville, PA, at the Pentagon and at Ground Zero in New York City the names of those who lost their lives on that September day were read – inviting all who heard them to recall the distinctive aspects of the individual life. CNN’s Anderson Cooper even wrote in his blog yesterday “In the years ahead, I hope it is their names we speak, not bin Laden’s. I hope it’s how they lived their lives we remember in addition to how those lives ended.”
These powerful ceremonies reminded me of similar rememberances when individual names were read and remembered: the AIDS Memorial Quilt Project, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. We recall an individual’s name – not only in times of grief or remembrance, but in times of celebration or connection – because a name is used in practically every language as a representation of our uniqueness, our individuality, our place in the world.
E-commerce strategist Joe Rawlinson once wrote “There is a word that can break through the noise and distractions of the world and reach your customer. The most important word to a customer is that person’s name.” So why do marketers or fundraisers miss countless opportunities every day to use our names? In person, by phone, in email, in direct mail – why don’t we take the time to use a person’s name?
So while there may be far more important lessons from the anniversary of 9/11 (the resilience of our country, the interconnectedness of our world, the value of life itself, etc.), the simple reminder I carry into this week is that every human is unique – and I can honor that fact by remembering your name.
And when he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
- William Shakespeare, from Romeo & Juliet, Act 3, Scene II
If you’ve followed this blog for a while you know that most of my blog posts are intended to deal with issues of marketing, branding, philanthropy, etc. Every once in a while I throw out a few random thoughts, just to prompt conversation or stimulate thought.
This week a young friend of mine died of cancer at the age of 34. He had chronicled his courageous journey for the past year or so and helped teach many about the importance of love and gratitude and a sense of humor. His passing caused me to remember a piece of art hanging in a local university that offers an interpretation of a children’s song. I’ve recreated it above. Take a look at the phrases in parenthesis.
- Engage with your life
- Go with the flow
- Enjoy the ride
- It’s all temporary
No matter what challenge you face in this moment, I hope you find inspiration in this simple song. Remember, life is but a dream.