Kiwibank greases up to local SMEs with some useful largesse

There were plenty of naysayers when Kiwibank was launched, but, after ten years, few would argue it has done a stellar job of facing up the big Australian-owned banks on the personal banking front (it announced a tripling of profits recently and now has around ten percent of the retail market). But now it’s aiming to bump up its business banking credentials with a campaign by Ogilvy and Ikon that aims to demonstrate how the bank can save SMEs time and money and let them get on with running their businesses. 

Will Cook, Kiwibank’s business banking marketing manager, says Kiwibank has had a business offering in the market for around six years and it now has dealings with around 32,000 of Kiwi SMEs, or around seven percent of the total. But improving that aspect of its business fits into its diversification and acquisition plan to have less dependency on personal banking and lending. And, given its focus on being locally-owned and the important role SMEs play in the country’s current and future success, “supporting them is the right thing for us to be doing,” he says. 

He admits Kiwibank is still known more for its personal banking services, so it’s a challenge to get past that perception, but Kiwibank has been known to overcome obstacles in the past. And while the other banks are also offering a big range of products and services, he says there is a subtle difference with this campaign, because “what we’re saying is that we’ll remove all the banking stuff so they can get more time”. He says it’s an extension of the customer value proposition of ‘Do less banking, do more business’ that underpins the whole department, so he says the bank has been working hard behind the scenes trying to walk the talk with new products and services (like Fetch). 

“It’s not a new insight, but the thinking behind it is that our SME customers are time poor,” he says. “They don’t want to fart around with the niggly day to day stuff … Banks don’t make the business successful, the people who run the business do,” he says. 

The campaign is aimed specifically at SMEs, not larger entities, and he says it has employed the services of media channels that are most relevant to them. But while it’s certainly saying it can save them time and money, it’s also trying to show them, with the likes of four free branded taxis in Auckland and Wellington, which are part of the Taxi Impact network and have the Twitter handle #kiwibankbizcab, and the Herald Business homepage takeover. 

The bank and its partners worked closely with the APN team to create a floating banner that pops up over the top business links and allows readers to select only the news they’re interested in, which he says is a good example of creating something that might help save them time and fits in nicely with its mantra. 

“This was a project with big ambitions, delivered in a modest timeframe,” says Ogilvy’s executive director Paul Manning. “SMEs want to be freed up to do what they do best – doing business – and not get bogged down in administration and financials. Kiwibank Business Banking saves these businesspeople time and money. Opting for untraditional channels and an equally untraditional creative approach I think our team have developed a campaign that will resonate with potential business customers and engender talkability.”

Cook says the campaign, which finishes this week, has performed well, with an increase in awareness and acquisition and a lot of enquiries through the NZ Post network. 

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