“Anything I can help with?” I asked. “After all, I suppose it must be pretty difficult being thrust back into the wonderful world of finance after years in the Amazonian rainforest living among a bunch of squirrel monkeys. Then again, when think about it, perhaps it isn’t.”
“Indeed, in many ways, it is actually less of a culture shock than one might imagine,” the MD agreed. “But I must admit that this has me stumped. What do you make of it?”
I reached out and took the proffered papers, which turned out not to be an FSA progress report but two press releases on the relative wealth of Brits depending on where they live. The first press release, from the good people of Legal & General, was entitled, Why you are better off being Welsh! “Interesting use of the exclamation mark,” I noted.
“I noticed that too,” nodded the MD. “Tell me, is there something inherently funny about being Welsh?”
“Not unless you are Anne Robinson,” I replied. “I mean, I can easily imagine why one would be better off being Welsh but then I have a very vivid imagination.”
“And I can also easily imagine why one would be better off being Welsh,” agreed the MD. “But then I did spend years in the forest living among …”
“This other press release is also interesting,” I interrupted hurriedly. “For while L&G tells us that the Welsh have more disposable income left over at the end of the month, after paying off debts and bills, according to the equally good people at the Halifax, the folk of north Norfolk save most in proportion to their incomes. So from where stems the confusion?”
“Well,” said the MD. “As you know, it is my firmly-held belief that we should make sure our existing clients feel all warm and loved before we start trying to scare up some new ones. That said, I would be failing in my responsibilities as an MD if I did not keep at least half an eye on the long term and where we might find extra revenue in the future.
“So I was thinking about where I might lay down a little marketing spend on localised brand awareness but now I am split as to whether to target the Welsh, who apparently have more cash to be financially planned, or the – what would you call them – Norfolkians? Norfolkese? Norfolkers? The people from Norfolk, who are obviously more open to the charms of the aforementioned financial planning.”
“Ah,” I said. “Now what you have done there is to look to base a whole marketing strategy on a pair of press release surveys. Don’t get me wrong, over the last few years I have seen many a campaign built on far less substance.
“Nevertheless and with due respect to L&G and Halifax, such surveys tend to be more a basis for filling news pages than for conquering the brave new world of financial advice.
“Anyway, if you took all these surveys at face value, it wouldn’t just be the geography that muddied the water. According to the Halifax, women have average savings balances 3 per cent higher than men and save almost twice as much of their income. Yet, for example, I recently saw a survey from Scottish Widows that said men do not like splashing the cash and another from Yorkshire Building Society that suggested that men are more likely to save than women.”
“Thank you for that,” said the MD. “You have saved me some embarrassment and quite a lot of time and effort. You see, it did occur to me that the trick might be to try and design a campaign that would appeal both to people from Wales and from Norfolk. However, for the life of me, I could not think of an image or idea that would pull that off.”
“Good for you,” I said. “As I fear you may be the only one.”