Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Marketing the Credit Crunch

How would a marketer approach this?

It seems that voter anger played a role in rejecting the first bill. The Wall Street Journal reported on a number of initiatives where people 'joined the conversation.' OK, so now we know groundswells work but the interesting marketing (social) question is why the outrage?

Some potential answers from Marketing 101:

1. The buyers' needs weren't satisfied or even recognized. "Why is this good for me personally?"

2. The solution didn't align with the buyers' needs. "Your money is going to somebody else."

3. The product features weren't wanted by the audience. "Wall street isn't main street."

4. The benefit wasn't simple to understand. "This is too complex to explain."

5. Price/value was out of balance. "700 billion for just what exactly?"

6. The explanation wasn't authentic and transparent. "Trust me."

7. The positioning was inappropriate: "Bailing out somebody else's greed."

8. We don't trust the salesmen.. "We buy from people we like and trust."

9. Brand name is awkward. "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act" and "Troubled Assets Relief Program." Huh?

No wonder it failed. Unless some basic changes happen to the product and the company selling it, it will fail again (or at least be begrudgingly passed and then completely messed up.) We can ignore how and why we got in this predicament for the moment because bashing the people incented to do sub-prime lending isn't going to help market this; although it might score some political points.

Let's assume there is a simple statement of the problem: credit is extremely difficult to get right now. Tight credit is bad because people's jobs, homes and dreams are now at serious risk. No credit means no funding of growth which drives jobs, homes, and ultimately better lives.

So, the product's sole purpose is to loosen credit to a level that gets us back on track with each of our personal ambitions and aspirations.

Introducing the "DREAMS Act" - Distribute Risk Economically and Mortgage Security Act with the corresponding website . It's all in the name - nobody knows what PATRIOT act stood for but you weren't going to vote against that name.

The product accomplishes three things:
1. Reestablish confidence of people with money that they can safely lend it to you and me.
2. Clean up a spill so that it doesn't contaminate my part of pool of perfectly good money.
3. Provide a remedy so it doesn't happen again and I can continue pursuing my ambitions.

That's a message that might resonate.

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