Date Posted: Thursday, May 12, 2011
MTN Mobile Money ad in Cote d'Ivoire
Many branchless banking implementations have struggled with low customer uptake and high levels of inactivity. Inadequate investment in marketing, especially advertising, has come under the spotlight as a key culprit. However, several high-profile deployments that made huge initial investments in marketing have re-tooled their strategy after disappointing results. Marketing a new product like mobile money – especially to an unbanked, mostly rural population – requires more than flashy ads and blanketing every agent shop with the right shade of green or red. Beyond brand awareness, customers need to understand what the product is, why they should use it and how they can get started.
We’ve collected examples of branchless banking advertisements from around the world and interviewed providers about the lessons they’ve learned and how they’ve adapted their marketing strategies. The results – including case studies and examples of marketing collateral – are in this compilation deck. Some of the things we’ve learned are:
Mass media marketing is important to build the brand, but not enough – While a heavy investment in above the line marketing (TV, radio and other mass media) is important to raise awareness and establish the brand and product as legitimate, it is not sufficient. Increasingly, branchless banking providers are shifting resources into below the line marketing.
Education-based marketing, preferably done face-to-face, is increasingly seen as critical to customer adoption – Below the line marketing (especially face-to-face interaction) has been critical in many markets, especially those with low literacy rates. Some providers believe it takes 15-30 minutes of personal interaction before a customer understands a branchless banking or mobile money offering. Until a critical mass of customers is reached (when they start teaching one another), providers need to find a way to do education-based marketing.
Keep the messages simple and use scenarios that are relevant to the average customer – M-PESA’s simple yet effective ‘Send Money Home’ advertisement is well known and conveyed a simple solution to a problem faced by many Kenyans. However, many implementations since then have tried to market multiple messages or more complex functionalities. These ads were not only confusing to unbanked people but seemed to advertise a premium service for high-end users. Successful ads have used simple messages and are relevant to the average (often unbanked and rural) potential customer.