Apr 14, 2006

Key success factor #5: Position your brand as a new way to pay

(This is the sixth post in a series on key success factors and common mistakes. I know, I know. I'm really behind on this series. And I've still got to go through the list of 7 common but critical mistakes.)

Today, all banks advertise the same features: low rates and no annual fees, free sign-up gift, protection against lost or stolen cards, purchase protection, extended warranties, theft protection, etc. Advertising almost never focuses on the payment experience, even though the card’s main purpose is payment. Why? The old way to pay is boring.

For some fresh advertising that positions cards as a new way to pay, take a look at ads on Welcome’s video library. Also see the post on Chase’s Blink ad in the US.

Let’s compare two different brand positioning strategies. Both are valid, but each leads to a very different destination.

Referring to Axess as “Carrefour’s new loyalty card”, or saying that "Carrefour is an Axess loyalty rewards partner" is essentially asking Carrefour to depend on you for their loyalty card program. This is really a co-brand or private label discussion. Carrefour is in the driver’s seat. Try explaining how you want other retailers to also trigger promotions from your card. At best, you might be able to convince Carrefour to be part of a coalition.

But “Axess, a new way to pay at Carrefour,” presents no conflict with the retailer’s own loyalty card, whether it exists or not. Carrefour will see little reason for the card not to be accepted by a wide variety of retailers.

“A new way to pay” positions the card’s added value within the payment function, in your world, not the retailer’s. The other approach focuses the added value with the retailer. If the retailer participates, the card has value. If not, the card has less value. With “a new way to pay”, the retailer wants to be modern and feels the need to accept your card, whereas with “Carrefour’s new loyalty card” you probably need the retailer much more than he needs you. Whether true or not, that is the basis upon which the negotiations will proceed. “A new way to pay” will be easier to sell and negotiate. It will keep you in the driver’s seat and will help you keep a higher portion of the value for your company by demonstrating that the lion’s portion of the added value is in your payment infrastructure, not the merchant’s participation.

Fresh new attributes you can add to your brand: Surprising, Unexpected, Delightful. Convenient, Practical, Helpful. Innovative, Original, Modern, Relevant.

In contrast, brands that still promote the old way to pay are: Dull, Predictable, Boring. Inconvenient, Complicated, Unsupportive. Old-fashioned, Common, Ordinary, Inflexible.

Prior posts in this series:
5 key factors for success (and 7 common but critical mistakes)

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