1 10 A. Tarabasz, Building marketing communication in times of I. PROBLEMY WSPÓŁCZESNEGO ZARZĄDZANIA(CONTEMPORARY MANAGEMENT ISSUES) Building marketing communication in times of crisis example of the Polish banking sector Anna Tarabasz Keywords: marketing communication, economic crisis, bank marketing Słowa kluczowe: komunikacja marketingowa, kryzys ekonomiczny, marketing bankowy Synopsis: This article is an attempt to show the impact of creating suitable marketing communication strategies and taking appropriate measures to reduce potential losses and troubles which a company must cope with in a crisis situation. Proposed solutions have a utilitarian nature, though they were based on actions taken by the Polish banking sector. Introduction Consistent with the Darwinian theory of evolution only the best, the most powerful and the most well adapted individuals will survive. This rule applies not only to living organisms, but to organizations as well. Thus, also to companies, that compete in the red ocean, fighting for market leadership. When referring to the case of adverse external conditions, it is no longer a struggle with competitors. It is rather a battle for survival. Due to turbulent changes, previously set long-term goals and prepared strategies are worthless. Such a threat, an external factor, that none could predict, was the recent economic crisis. While economists argue there were indicators to foresee it and companies should have been prepared, unfortunately this was not so. When organizations cannot be prepared in advance, at least they should reduce damages and losses. Since the origin of today's economic crisis can be traced to the banking sector, it will serve as an example for the implementation of improvements designed to minimalize future problems. This article is an attempt to show the impact of creating suitable marketing communication strategies and to take appropriate measures to reduce potential losses and troubles which the company must cope with in a crisis situation. Creating the Foundation for Communication With rapid changes caused by economic collapse, companies have had to reorient their communication. Responses to the question how and how to effectively communicated in times of economic crisis should be looked for in the literature of PR. Many publications sug- Dr Anna Tarabasz, University of Lodz.
2 WSPÓŁCZESNE ZARZĄDZANIE 3/ CONTEMPORARY MANAGEMENT QUARTERLY 3/2012 gest what companies should do in the era of instantaneous failure. These activities shall be considered in advance, as the company should determine the composition of anti-crisis headquarter members (usually consisting of the CEO / manager of the enterprise, and the person engaged in PR. It is also assumed that, depending on the extent of the crisis, the anti-crisis team shall also be composed also of experts accordingly from their fields (finance, production, technology, R&D, those responsible for specific business lines or a manager of a strategic region). Regardless of the scope and the problems of the crisis, which organization faces, the most important factor is the quick and accurate transmission of information needed. It is the company s duty in such times, as well as establishing the external and internal environment of the enterprise. Very often, this internal factor is neglected. Because of hectic efforts to diffuse increasing tension, which has arisen, the enterprise focuses on the media, consumers and business partners. At the same time it forgets an important nexus, which is an internal customer the employee. It is worth at this point, to recourse to the decalogue of effective anti-crisis communication (tab. 1) and to place an emphasis on the 8 th. commandment. Tab. 1. Decalogue of anti-crisis communication 1. Do not lie 2. Do not underestimate, do not wait till all is over 3. As soon as possible take part in public discussion over your matter 4. Create a plan, act according to its rules, think one step ahead 5. Communicate with a unique voice Source: [Krasoń, 2007, s ]. 6. Lead dialogue, not a monologue 7. Do not spin speculations and hypotheses 8. Do not forget internal communication (PR) 9. Avoid entering into conflict 10. Think about what will happen later you are fighting for your image after the crisis But not only actions are important, as the concept of communication is a crucial factor. Financial communication expert, S. Fouks (corporate and finance communication specialist, Executive Co-Chairman of Euro RSCG, a worldwide company which cooperates on a global level with Citroen, Volvo, Jaguar, Peugeot, Danone, Kraft, Glaxo Smith Kline, Schering- Plough, IBM, and in Poland as Euro RSCG which helps to improve communication of TP S.A, Orange, Kompania Piwowarska S.A., Indesit, Hexeline, DomBank and BPH TFI) puts stress on three key factors in the communication process. As a decisive factor for the success of communication in a crisis he considers the appropriate selection of these three elements: message (content in the strict sense), the time of it s announcement and the media used [Mierżyńska]. Although these words seem to express an obvious truth, their precision should be highlighted. When speaking of the media he does not only emphasize its range as a communication channel, but rather its specificity. Television, is from his point of view, an image and emotions, which are listened with the eyes, newspapers allows lining rational arguments, radio their understanding and the Internet is like the sum of all media. In anticrisis communication, he also indicates that the only effective weapon is the truth, as a lie, sooner or later comes to light and turns against those who committed it. Simultaneously, he suggests however, that truth should be dispensed with great care. There is a significant difference between speaking the truth and revealing everything. Absolute honesty undermines the company. Besides, people do not request it. They want only to be certain that nothing is hidden before their eyes. With such an opinion a company with poor results definitely should not remain silent as those results in fact indicate a crucial moment in the business communication which must be used to strengthen its market credibility. In effective anti-crisis communication, however, what seems most important is the explanation of how this problem should be resolved. This is particularly important for the financial sector, in which customers are making a product selection guided not only by a rational nature of arguments, but also promises of future profits an emotional factor, as concluded from the conducted research: a qualitative one, in the form of participative observation [Ta-
3 12 A. Tarabasz, Building marketing communication in times of rabasz, 2009] as well as a quantitative research in the form of a direct survey, conducted among 1,760 customers of 11 of the largest banks in Poland. Sampling and methodology of the study are presented in detail in the doctoral dissertation [Tarabasz, 2012]. Moreover, it seems that even when a company has financial problems, but it is able to propose specific anti-crisis measures, in the eyes of the customer, they become only a temporary weakness. At this moment it should be emphasized that previously described crisis communication refers to a temporary problem, tripping or failure of business. It turned out that despite numerous sources describing communication in times of problems [Anthonissen, 2008; Coombs, 2011; Coombs and Holladay, 2012], those guidelines cannot be used directly in the case of economic recession. In particular, the economic crisis, which is a long-term phenomenon and does not spare practically anyone. To sum up the issue of communication of polish banks in the economic crisis, it should be emphasized, that they act according to the decalogue e of anti-crisis communication (tab. 1) and at least partially follow the proposed scheme (tab. 2). Partially because they are aware of the importance of advertising, which aims to build a competitive advantage. At the same time however, what seems troubling is the fact that the communication is directed mainly to new customers and is based only on a simple price basis. Although a change in attitude is noticeable, gradually they are beginning to appreciate former clients, however, none of the banks communicate it directly in the advertising message. This is even more sad, as the number of customers of the banking sector will not grow indefinitely. This conclusion occurs slowly in Poland and it is a shame, that such practices are rarely applied in this sector, which has financial means, wide customer databases and offers modern solutions, but does not want to change its behavior. Tab. 2. Proposed actions and customary implemented actions in times of crisis Customary implemented actions Proposed actions freezing or cutting budgets (marketing and PR ones ), complete withdrawal of advertising investing in advertising while monitoring the effects, the study of its effectiveness, resigning from cost-increasing forms advertising budget is counted as a percentage of planned sales budget is established as a result of implementation of the SMART aims rule reduction of the number of employees, sometimes regardless of the duties performed, unconsciously fostering a climate of tension reduction of unnecessary personnel, search and employment of specialists in a particular field (due to existing employers labour elimination of nexuses generating costs that do not compensate (potentially rapid to achieve) revenues market vs. market of employee in times of prosperity), mobilization within the lines, clarity of communication of decisions and encouraging junior staff to propose solutions actions taken that improve efficiency, generate additional elimination of cost-increasing nexuses income through communication of instantaneous frantic search for new customers as a source of potential revenue, or resignation if the operation generates high costs "austerity" with internal PR actions, transparent internal relationships encouraging interaction, and proposing communication of short-term benefits, the use of comparative advertising, resignation from cooperation with existing advertising agencies solutions, co-managing, lean management selective choice of new customers, taking care of existing client and investing it them, as acquiring new customer is five time more expensive, that retention of the old one communications emphasizes long-term relationships, pro-crm action, resignation from advertising products to wealthy and prestigious customers, usage of previously developed effective solutions with an openness to minor modifications Source: own elaboration.
4 WSPÓŁCZESNE ZARZĄDZANIE 3/ CONTEMPORARY MANAGEMENT QUARTERLY 3/2012 Crisis has changed not only banks, but also customers The crisis in the banking sector has influenced not only institutions from the sector. As the formerly mentioned research demonstrated, transformation also succumbed to customers themselves. It is not about the decline in their real purchasing power, nor about the growing unemployment rate. First and foremost, is that their attitudes and mentality have changed. Until then, the banking sector and its actions was present in everyone's life, but rather as something relatively remote and virtual. Suddenly it appeared that bankers' actions may have a direct impact on an average person. The topic of crisis was present in every area of the media and presented in dark colours. Everyone, therefore, watched breathlessly the news from overseas and the disturbing signals from western neighbours. Although collapsing companies that invested in foreign exchange options or companies having trouble after signing contracts in USD had problems with exports the crisis has negatively influenced a big number of enterprises every cloud has a silver lining. It has also brought positive outcomes. It turned out, that public economical awareness increased rapidly. Concepts, which have so far sounded strange, suddenly became the subject of almost every neighborhood conversation. People understood, that there is no such thing as a free account and in promotions where they give there is always something hidden. They became aware of both the desire to obtain permission for marketing data processing, and agreements that binds them for the long term. Commercial offers finally began to be compared. Customers opted for more expensive products, but with convenient functionalities. They preferred to choose consciously, as after calculations it turned out that what at first glance costs more eventually may be cheaper! What is the benefit of an offer, which gives free access to ATMs, if the bank has few of them? What is the point of an offer for a savings account that is free of charge, but after making the second transfer in each month from our account to another within the same bank we then have to pay so much, so much in fact that it exceeds the accumulated amount of annual interest? Also awareness concerning credit cards has increased it really gives 52 days of interest-free credit, but only if it is paid within the allotted time. When withdrawing money from this card, all actions are the equivalent to the start of charging interest at a stake of 20% per year! Such examples as these could be multiplied. Overall it should be concluded, that customers, albeit with slightly slimmer wallets due to bank charges, also benefited from the crisis in the banking sector. Primarily they gained knowledge, business consciousness and orientation in products and services that till now were only strange sounding terms. Secondly they began to be more aware of choices between offers. And last but not least they became more conscious in managing their financial resources. After the crisis: a user-friendly advertising When in 2010 the economic crisis ended for the banking sector in Poland with all its negative repercussions, it turned out, that despite all these negative aspects some positives could also be noticed. As the conducted study shows, firstly, banks are far better at managing funds for advertising campaigns. They examine the return on invested capital, and use less costcreating media sources. The internet has become more and more popular as an advertising medium. According to the AdEx research, conducted by PwC & IAB Poland from the year 2010, those expenses reached a total of 1.5 PLN billion noting a 15% increase, of the total sum of 7.3 PLN billion for the whole expenses on advertising according to Starlink s reports. Within spending on online advertising the lion share was attached to the financial sector, investing 17% in this channel, which means more than PLN million was spent in Apart from perceiving the obvious advantages of this advertising medium and maximizing investment in electronic sales channels, few changes were introduced. First of
5 14 A. Tarabasz, Building marketing communication in times of all, the messages began pointing out an offer's measurable benefits such as interest rates, bank margins, length of credit period, the waiting time for a credit decision etc. Secondly, advertisements are directed to much more educated customers, who have already learned from their mistakes and do not believe in "deals", gifts and freebies, and "free offers". In addition, foreign-sounding terms for the customer like LTV (Loan to Value), spread (the difference in exchange rates between buying and selling of foreign currency exchange rate prices), LIBOR 3M (London Interbank Offered Rate indexed for last 3 months or RRSO (The Real Annual Percentage Rate of credit ) are now commonly used in marketing messages, due to the fact, that banking awareness of specific terms has increased for an average person. Banks now realize, that many customers are consciously investing their funds and purchasing bonds. Therefore, an increasing number of them willingly use comparison engines, lists and rankings, where banks more and more often must appear, even if they do not really wish to. Overall, apart from promoted products, the content and tone of communication has also changed, advertisements now offer self-service and suggest using low-cost Internet accounts. What is more, the process of educating customers has begun. Through self-service in the usage of banking services via remote channels (mainly Internet), they may gain even PLN a year. In the case of paid services, advertising messages are now based on the language of benefits. Not only does the customer saves money and time, but also gains access to specific functionalities not previously used (i.e. additional benefits packets offered by BZ WBK and accounts on heels for women or Active+ with health insurance). Often comparative commercials appear, when customers can sum up the total cost of using the current account, and compare it with the new one. Novelty is also being used with advertisements highlighting not only the product offer but the brand of the bank (advertisements of Noble Bank) and customers value as well as their opinion (i.e. BPH campaign what we value most is the customer ). What is more, humour occurs as a factor, which was not previously present in commercials of serious institutions. Besides, the language of marketing communications itself has changed. Banks tend to be closer to their customers by speaking simple, understandable language, communicate with the direct you form, using humor in advertising and encouraging celebrities to advertise their products. Worth mentioning here are ING Bank Śląski s campaign with Marek Kondrat, BZ WBK with Chuck Norris, Antonio Banderas, John Cleese and Danny de Vito or Raifeissen with Maciej and Jerzy Sthur. All of this to reduce the gap between the unapproachable institution and the average Pole. In addition, participation of prominent figures in banks' advertisements serves to transfer positive feelings in relation to the stars with the financial institution and thus is a major step toward warming its image. All this results in making promoted products and banks' offers as a closer to the customer, more understandable and user friendly. It can therefore confirm the truth of the proverb what does not kill you, will only make you stronger for banks as well as their customers. It would, however, in the face of the recent crisis that the Polish banking sector has undergone, alleviate the tone of this maxim, saying that "after the rain always comes the sunshine". Fortunately for both parties the rain was just as strong, a short-term shower, but certainly has made people and companies breathe much easier. Conclusion The banking sector in Poland escaped the economic crisis almost unscathed. Drastic cost cutting has brought the intended results. Aavailable resources were managed in a different manner. Institutions have noticed the potential of their own customers. The order to promote products enforced by the state of the market (mortgages investments consumer loans-brand mortgage) influenced the content and method of communication. Now, not only is the bank looking for a customer, but the customer comes himself
6 WSPÓŁCZESNE ZARZĄDZANIE 3/ CONTEMPORARY MANAGEMENT QUARTERLY 3/2012 better educated and willing to pay more and not only for their basic requirements. Banking products are now sold and not to given away. However, for this reason, necessity of a fee has appeared. That is why customers appreciated the convenience of self-service via the Internet and the convenience of transactions carried out by oneself, that are free of charge. Banks with implemented savings strategies, increased profit margins, and cost minimization whilst seeking to maximize the effectiveness of their activities, instead of weakening during the crisis began noticing unexpectedly good financial results. In fact, customers have paid for the crisis. This crisis gave them better business awareness. As for the banks a lesson in planning for the future and common sense, which they had lacked previously. Even though, it should be stressed, that the main role in tackling the crisis was played by the banks communication with their customers. An honest, transparent and responsible one. What is worth stressing is the propositions from the decalogue of communication and the presented comparison are applicable not only for anti-crisis actions, but also for the ordinary behavior of companies. Bibliography 1. Anthonissen P., (2008), Crisis communication. Practical PR strategies for reputation management and company survival, Kogan Page, London. 2. Coombs T., (2011), Ongoing crisis communication. Planning, managing and responding, Sage Publications, London. 3. Coombs W.T., Holladay S.J., (2012), The handbook of crisis communication, Wiley-Blackwell, Malden. 4. Czarnecki L., (2011), Ryzyko w działalności bankowej. Nowe spojrzenie po kryzysie, Studio Emka, Warszawa. 5. Knecht Z., (2005), Racjonalne public relations. Budowa działu, instrumenty, studia przypadków, Wyd. C.H. Beck, Warszawa. 6. Krasoń M., (2007), Gotowość na kryzys sprawdza się w walce, Forbes, vol Mihim S., Roubini N., (2011), Ekonomia kryzysu, Wolters Kluwer Polska, Warszawa. 8. Otte M., (2009), Kiedy nadchodzi kryzys, Studio Emka, Warszawa. 9. Ray, S.J., (1999), Strategic communication in crisis management. Lessons from the airline industry, Quorum Books, Westport. 10. Tarabasz A., (2009), Ľ influence ď une crise économique sur la communication avec la clientéle du secteur bancaire en Pologne [w:] Martin C., Kita J. (red.), Les défis du développement durable: politiques industrielles et commerciales dans ľ Union Européenne, Vydavateľstvo Ekonom v Bratislave, Bratisława. 11. Tarabasz A., (2012), Dysertacja doktorska pt. Komunikacja z klientem za pośrednictwem Internetu na przykładzie wybranych banków, Wydział Zarządzania Uniwersytet Łódzki, praca nieopublikowana, Łódź. 12. Zaremba A.J., (2010), Crisis Communications. Theory and practice, M.E. Sharpe, New York. Electronic bibliography 1. Mierżyńska M., Za każdym razem jest inaczej, Puls Biznesu obrazki/pb_ jpg [04/02/2012] Budowanie komunikacji marketingowej w czasach kryzysu na podstawie działań sektora bankowego w Polsce Zgodnie z teorią ewolucji przetrwają jednostki najlepsze, najsilniejsze i najlepiej przystosowane. Okazuje się, iż takie prawidła dotyczą nie tylko żywych organizmów, ale także organizacji walczących o przywództwo w sferze czerwonego oceanu. Niestety jednak przy-
7 16 A. Tarabasz, Building marketing communication in times of chodzi im zmierzyć się nie tylko konkurentami, ale co ważniejsze, stawić czoła turbulentnemu i nieprzyjaznemu otoczeniu. Takie właśnie okoliczności towarzyszyły przedsiębiorstwom w momencie pojawienia się kryzysu ekonomicznego. Pod wpływem negatywnych czynników zewnętrznych, firmy musiały przeorientować i odpowiednio zmodyfikować zarówno swoją komunikację, jak i całość działań marketingowych. Odpowiedzi na to, w jaki sposób należy komunikować się z klientami i interesariuszami, by osiągnąć zamierzone efekty, nie należy upatrywać wyłącznie w literaturze antykryzysowego PR. Ponieważ sektor bankowy obwiniany było zapoczątkowanie zapaści ekonomicznej, rozważania dotyczące swoistego panaceum powinny być upatrywane właśnie tutaj. Artykuł jest próbą określenia modyfikacji trendów w komunikacji z klientem w ramach sektora finansowego pod wpływem pojawiającego się zagrożenia o charakterze ekonomicznym. Podejmuje on problematykę kreowania komunikacji marketingowej, mającej na celu redukowanie zagrożeń i strat wynikających z pojawienia się sytuacji kryzysowej, w tym również długoterminowego kryzysu ekonomicznego. Punktem wyjścia do prowadzonych dywagacji jest prezentacja dekalogu komunikacji antykryzysowej, poprzedzającego prezentację rozwiązań proponowanych do wprowadzenia w trudnych czasach zapaści, ze szczególną enumeracją błędów w działaniach zwyczajowo prowadzonych przez przedsiębiorstwa. Następnie w ramach prezentowanych rozważań pokrótce pokazana zostaje zmiana sposobu postrzegania i myślenia klientów z zakresu działań komunikacyjno-promocyjnych, stosowanych przez największe banki w kraju. Artykuł pokazuje również zmianę myślenia klientów sektora bankowego, którzy obecnie świadomiej podejmują decyzje finansowe, kierując się nie tylko ceną produktów bankowych, lecz raczej ich funkcjonalnością. Bazą do przytaczanych uogólnień stają się wyniki badań własnych prowadzonych wśród prawie 1800 klientów 11 największych banków w Polsce a także obserwacja uczestnicząca. W treści prezentowanych rozważań podkreślono również dwutorowe zmiany w konstrukcji samego przekazu marketingowego, jakie zaobserwować można w ramach okresu postkryzysowego. Pierwszą z nich jest używanie specjalistycznej nomenklatury i terminologii z zakresu oferowanych produktów i usług bankowych. Stało się to możliwym, dzięki wzrostowi świadomości konsumenckiej w zakresie produktów bankowych i sposobu ich funkcjonowania. Z drugiej strony widoczne jest swoiste odbrązowienie polskiego sektora bankowego w samych przekazach marketingowych. Instytucje te często w swych reklamach sięgają do żartu, farsy, łamią konwenanse i niejako z przymrużeniem oka pokazują wdrażane ulepszenia, rozwiązania czy też parametry cenowe oferty. I choć z pewnością kryzys ekonomiczny odcisnął swe piętno na rzeczywistych wskaźnikach gospodarczych i zapukał do drzwi wielu gospodarstw domowych, należy również upatrywać jego pozytywnych aspektów, jakimi są transparentność działań instytucji bankowych w tym zakresie a także wzrost świadomości ich finalnych odbiorców. Warto podkreślić, iż mimo faktu opisywania zastosowań implementowanych działań jedynie w sektorze finansowym, proponowane w ramach artykułu rozwiązania mają charakter utylitarny i mogą z powodzeniem zostać wdrożone w przedsiębiorstwach o innych profilach.