Published on: December 11, 2014
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Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
I've always been of the belief that it is important for businesses and brands to establish very early what their unique advantages are, and then exploit those advantages at every turn. That's not to say that they shouldn't expand the products and services they offer or try new things … just that you have to know what makes you what you are.
I've been thinking about this lately because of something that happened to us right before Thanksgiving. For the first time ever, we were not going to have all of our kids with us for the holiday; our oldest son, who works in Chicago, needed to be at work late Wednesday and early Friday, so getting him home for Thanksgiving just wasn't practical. But we decided we wanted to at least treat him to a nice Thanksgiving dinner, and would send him some money.
But, as so often happens, we got busy and distracted and suddenly realized on the afternoon beforeThanksgiving that we'd forgotten to send him money. No problem, we figured…we'd just drive over to Chase, which happens to be his bank, and deposit a hundred bucks into his account so he could have a nice Thanksgiving dinner and maybe take a friend. But when Mrs. Content Guy got to the Chase branch, armed with $100 in cash and our son's name and account number, she was informed that they would no longer accept cash deposits of any size into an account that is not your own.
You have to be kidding me. Now, the teller made clear that this was a bank policy, not federal regulations, that was creating this situation. You can make deposits using a check or money order - but you have to pay for the money order and I find it ironic that they'd rather take a check that could bounce than actual currency. And by the way, the last time I checked, this is actual currency.
But now, at Chase, apparently it isn't enough to have cash. You have to prove you actually own the cash.
Now, Chase says that it instituted this rule because it is trying to 'combat the misuse of accounts, including money laundering." And I can buy that … but $100? I'm not real sure they have to be worried about money laundering at that level. Maybe saying that you can't make cash deposits into someone else's account for $1,000 or more would seem more sensible.
Ironically, I was reading a story earlier this week about how some banks are actually going to large depositors that they may want to make their cash deposits elsewhere, because otherwise they'll be hit with big fees, which are being instituted by the banks to cover some of the costs created by tighter financial regulation.
I know this is simplistic, but if banks are going to discourage major corporations from making big deposits, and stop parents from putting $100 in their kid's account, well, what the hell is their business model exactly?
Now, I'm sure that there's plenty of room left for banks to make money. There's always the loan shark…er, credit card business. And we all know that when all else fails, they're happy to charge high interest rates for student loans, saddling the next generation with debt that is almost impossible to pay off.
It wasn't that long ago that there was a study saying that young people would just as soon bank with Walmart or Google as with Citibank or Chase. They don't care about traditional roles and boundaries…they just want reputable companies to provide them with relevant products and services. And is it any wonder, as banks seem to be less and less interested in being in the traditional banking business?
I hope the Chase decision doesn't become epidemic. I don't have a lot of faith, because bankers can be a bunch of lemmings, but I can hope.
BTW…I would submit that if Chase ever shows up at a legislative hearing into the matter of whether Walmart should be allowed to open a bank, it should be laughed out of the room. Because these guys would have to have real onions to suggest that only traditional financial services companies ought to be able to offer traditional financial services.
If major banks don't want to provide such products and services, then they have absolutely no right to expect governmental protection so that other companies cannot. And if that means that Walmart or Google are empowered to disrupt the financial services industry in a way that is positive for the consumer, then fine. I'm okay with that.
If you have a brand advantage, you have to nurture it, nourish it, protect it, and expand it. Not toss it away, even if the rationale seems good at the time. in the long run, I think this can be a serious mistake.
I'm standing here in my kitchen, and over here, my daughter is in the process of making pulled pork. It is going to be delicious. Right now, the smell is almost intoxicating … it is taking some effort not to drool on-camera. I would suggest that the power of such aromas is oner of the things that can give a food store a differential advantage, that can help promote and nourish the brand.
And yet…when was the last food store you went into that actually smelled great? That smelled any different from the CVS down the road?
It isn't enough to say you are a food store. You actually have to be a food store, with all that this entails.
It can pay dividends.
That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: