Thursday, May 31, 2007

Canadian Bacon

I’ve been phoned recently by two banks that want to lend my business money.

Never mind that my business assets consist of two computers, a printer, one-eighth of a car and 12 shelves of books.

TD Canada Trust pre-approved me for a $15,000 loan at 1 percentage point below prime. Of course, it set some harsh conditions. Neither my business’s assets nor its annual revenue may exceed $500,000. (If they do, though, I’m pre-approved for a loan at 1.99% above prime.)

About six weeks after I received the direct-mail piece, which was cleverly designed to look like a personalized cheque, they called me. The telemarketer was very effective. She sounded concerned and genuinely puzzled that I might not take advantage of this cheap money, and asked if there was anything else she could do to help me.

She actually made me feel guilty for not borrowing their money. I was very impressed.

Not so impressive was the guy from Wells Fargo who called the other day to give me a credit line (I think it was for $40,000). The rate: prime plus 1%. I told him I didn't need that much money, and that a competitor in the marketplace is offering me funds at prime minus 1.

No problem, said my mechanical friend. If I didn’t want to open the account today, he said, I could access the offer later on the Wells Fargo website. He then proceeded to spell out a long URL, and then some other long access number, both of which I politely pretended to write down.

A couple of lessons from these interactions:

* Listening is so important. I felt the TD marketer listened to me. She responded creatively and genuinely. Mr. Robot from Wells Fargo had a job to do and did it, whether I wanted him to or not.
* Reputation is key. I know Wells Fargo has been active in the Canadian market for 10 years, but I don't think it has ever been part of the market. I don't see ads from them, I don't know if they have any physical Canadian presence, I don't see their name sponsoring business events. (The pony-express logo on their “Canadian” website certainly doesn't seem to fit the Canadian character. And why no maple leaf on the stagecoach?)

TD we all know. Whether we patronize them or not, we know them as a civil, reasonably positive force in the community. Who would you rather deal with?

* Mixed media work. TD’s letter alone was shrugworthy, but adding the phone followup makes for a very compelling sales pitch.

Occasional “one-off” offers may meet short-term objectives, but thoughtful, integrated campaigns will always bting home the bacon.

1 comment:

Thicken My Wallet said...

Interesting post but your post assumes that the tele-marketer is given the ability to read off script and (god forbid) think for themselves!

Keep up the good work.