Business<br />
Insights that<br />
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Insights that
drive results


A Most Unusual Offer From a Bank

Steve Topper September 10th, 2013

Finally, I came across a very unusual offer that truly differentiates this bank from its competitors…at least for the duration of the offer.

Perhaps because of the target audience, it appears in a full-page magazine ad, not the local newspaper where it would get much broader exposure.

The magazine in question, headquartered in Sacramento, California, is distributed primarily locally and focuses on businesses in the area.  In fact, a copy line under the magazine’s title on the front cover reads: “business insight for the capital region.”

It’s targeted to a more affluent, upscale audience vis-à-vis the only local newspaper.

What I find intriguing is that while the local newspaper, The Sacramento Bee, carries very few print ads from local banks and credit unions, the August issue of this glossy contains ads from seven banks.  Five are full-page ads with one on the inside front cover and the other on the back outside cover and two are partial-page ads.  Of the seven banks, one is a mega-bank while the other six are local community banks.

As you can see below, the mega-bank’s ad provides readers with a very unusual, and strong, offer.

This ad appears on page 15 in the August 2013 issue of Comstock's magazine

This ad appears on page 15 in the August 2013 issue of Comstock’s magazine


Loan rate discounts tend to be the norm when bank and credit union customers agree to have loan payments taken from their checking account at the institution making the loan.

Wells Fargo has taken this discount and doubled it for a limited time for qualifying checking account customers taking out new loans and lines of credit.  The double discount applies for the life of the loan or line of credit.

To qualify for the double discount, customers must have one of the bank’s “checking packages” which in the Sacramento area means a Way2Save Checking Package or the PMA Package.  It is not available to Value Checking customers.

With this promotion Wells Fargo is not only hoping to generate new loans and lines of credit, it is forcing customers and prospects to focus on, and consider, choosing one of the bank’s bundled checking accounts which it labels “packages.”

Personally, I’m not fond of packaged or bundled accounts but apparently they are working for Wells Fargo.

I see the problem as one of confusing consumers.

During the product development phase, at some point it becomes necessary to come up with a name for your new checking account.  Finding a usable name for a new checking account can be tough in that the name must be available…in other words, some other bank can’t be using it.

Ideally, to the extent possible, the name should be descriptive.  Examples of descriptive names include Free Checking, Interest Checking, Rewards Checking, and Student Checking.

I believe it is a mistake to include the word “package” when naming a checking account.  Why, because you are introducing a term that is unfamiliar to most people in the context of checking accounts.  Consumers don’t have the term “checking package” stored in their minds.  They have no idea what a checking package means.

As marketers, we should work with what’s already in the consumer’s mind.  Marketing checking accounts as checking packages doesn’t register.  It’s confusing.

As international marketing consultants Al Ries and Jack Trout informed us years ago in their 1993 book, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing:

  • Minds hate confusion
  • Minds are limited
  • Minds are insecure
  • Minds can lose focus
  • Minds don’t change

According to Ries and Trout, “The single most wasteful thing you can do in marketing is try to change a mind.”  This is especially true for small banks and credit unions with small marketing budgets.

Perhaps because of its size, stellar brand, and huge marketing budget, Wells Fargo will be successful marketing checking packages.

I’m not aware of another bank or credit union that’s using the word “package” in its checking product names.

Now that I’ve gone off on my checking account package tangent, I’ll get back to the excellent offer from Wells Fargo.

Not only is it unique, it leaps off the full-page ad shown above.  I simply can’t imagine a better ad headline or layout.

And, as always, there’s the familiar stage coach logo in the lower right corner of the ad.

I swear it’s the best, most recognizable logo, not only in banking but in the entire country.

I never tire of seeing it.