How to market the imposition of a fee on customers?Bank of America announced that it will impose a $5.00 monthly surcharge for its members who utilize their debt card. How would you propose...
Bank of America announced that it will impose a $5.00 monthly surcharge for its members who utilize their debt card. How would you propose marketing this unpopular action if you were charge of this marketing campaign?
Perhaps in this economy, as lentzk suggested, the direct approach is the best approach. I can envision an ad campaign, a brochure, a website announcement or a radio commercial that provides a montage of images showing bank closures, business closures, home foreclosures and long unemployment lines. I can imagine a voice-over describing the economic disasters recently endured (some of which are still an on-going agony for some) and identifying the failures of some prominent, well-known business names, such as Bear Sterns, Enron, Barnes and Noble. then I can envision a montage of images of the business marketing the new fee that is robust, healthy, strong, open for business! I can imagine the voice-over offering an apology but appealing to the collective understanding that almost all have had to "tighten their belts" and make changes and adjustments to stay afloat and viable in the present economy. I think that a marketing appeal that incorporated a direct approach with a review of recent events would put the fee in perspective and give the customer confidence that the fee was necessary.
I think that the only feasible way to market this would be to emphasize what the money will be used for and why the fee is being imposed. You will have to understand that no one is going to be happy about this and you have to do your campaign accordingly. Ads should not try to make it sound like this is a great thing. Instead, they should apologize for what the firm has to do. If I remember correctly, this was brought on in part by government regulation of other fees the bank could charge. That could be explained. After that, you’d need to try to justify the fee by listing the services that the fee will be used to provide.
This is definitely going to be unpopular. One strategy would be to be quiet about it. Don't market it at all. Keep it a secret. Of course, this could backfire. If you make it the key to your marketing plan, I think the best option would be to focus on who it's different from other banks that charge you more. For example, you could say the bank charges "one flat fee" instead of being charged every time.
The company might want to try to emphasize just how much the customer benefits from being able to use a debit card. The service is worth five dollars every month to most people.
This argument does not overcome the first response that people will have though when they think about how much money the bank is making already...
I think outside of complete transparency and honesty, the best way to limit the negative exposure from this fee is to communicate it clearly so there are no surprises and offer people a way to avoid it. Perhaps the avoidance strategy couldn't be met by 90% of the BOA customer base, but at least if feels like there is a way out.