Magazine article Marketing

What Are These Sophisticates Saying Anyway?

Magazine article Marketing

What Are These Sophisticates Saying Anyway?

Article excerpt

"Find out what people want and need, and give it to them - and you'll get rich," said an old-time American millionaire. This pithy definition of marketing sprang to mind - not for the first time - after I was savaged by someone from Mastercard a while ago for saying rude things about his barrage balloons. Dismissively he pointed out that today's financial marketing was far too sophisticated for my poor mind to grasp.

After working with American Express for 18 years, I doubt that. The problem with financial marketing is not lack of sophistication but a pathetic failure to get simple things right. It's no use, for instance, producing multi-million pound commercials if you can't communicate properly with your customers. By that I mean send out letters that are polite, easily understood, and easy to reply to.

Take how my colleague Andrew Boddington, who has salted away some of his massive earnings in a savings plan, was treated. Skandia Life sent him a letter reading: "You have been advised (which he hadn't) by Barclays Bank, the former assignees, that they no longer have an interest in the above plan. The benefits under the plan have therefore reverted to the policy holder(s)", followed by an illegible signature. Somewhat later, Barclays did send a letter, which said: "We enclose the undermentioned documents. Please sign and return the attached form of receipt," followed by some scrawled numbers and a signature, all virtually indecipherable. …

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