Banks should use focused marketing to better serve their credit card customers’ needs. By discarding the “shotgun” marketing approach, bank card issuers may find a surprising difference in public opinion and the profitability of their operations.
Take for example affinity cards: A long term successful program requires more than just placing the organization’s name above that of the bank’s on the card.
Ensuring affinity credit card success
If an issuer really wants a program to take-off, it needs to be concerned about the group. The bank needs to “buddy-up” to the affinity group and create a customized program that’s integrated into the organization. A single person should be responsible as the interface with the group. It’s up to that individual to find out about the affinity organization’s members and their specific needs.
For example, if the affinity group has a newsletter, it may be feasible to enclose a small insert into its mailing envelope. The insert would carry some special feature about the card or a perk of particular interest to the group. The insert wouldn’t cost the bank much, especially if it was so small that it didn’t increase the newsletter’s postage costs.
This act alone would make the affinity card program appear to be integrated into the organization.
Another point of flexibility is the billing date. If the group is composed of retirees, this could have a major impact. For example, if the affinity card’s billing date falls on the 2nd of the month, but a retired person’s fixed income check doesn’t arrive until the 15th, this may create a cashflow crunch for the individual. Just this problem alone would make a person less likely to use the card. Banks should synchronize dates with the cardholder. Both parties could benefit greatly at little or no cost.
These are just a few ideas. Anyone working closely with an affinity organization could doubtlessly find numerous other ways to make the card a closer part of the group. This in turn would foster greater usage and profitability without incurring much additional cost.
Focus on the needs of the group
If banks focused on specific needs of groups, it would generate a much more positive sentiment amongst members. It would also be more profitable than using the shotgun approach of trying to be all things to all people.
Being all things to all people by making one set of rules for everyone, creates one very large, but largely unhappy, group of customers. By custom handling a select group of customers with care, some large dividends can result.
One area that would be affected is losses. Behavioral psychology says that when a person feels special or when emphasis is placed upon their needs, it’s much more difficult for that person to do something negative to the thoughtful entity. Applied to this situation, it implies that fraud, bad debt, etc., would be less prevalent since the cardholder would be inclined to go the extra mile. In other words, they might try to get payments in on time, hesitate before filing bankruptcy or maybe even sacrifice something because they feel as though they have been treated nicely.
Sometimes it’s the little things that are the most important. Affinity issuers should consider the little things they can do to cater to groups. Focused marketing is the key to giving the affinity customer that special attention.
Copyright Dan Sinisi, 1990