CAMPAIGN DIRECT: PROFILE - GRAHAM LEIGH. b2 marketer whispers loudly in his quest for new financial customers. The brand may be visible but the response to its DM strategy is Graham Leigh’s next trial. By Robert Dwek

By ROBERT DWEK, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 31 July 1998 12:00AM

’I have the biggest in-tray in the marketing industry,’ says Graham Leigh, group marketing director of b2, the financial services company and brand launched by Barclays in May. Leigh is not being boastful, but simply emphasising the huge number of business letters that have landed on his desk over the past couple of months.

’I have the biggest in-tray in the marketing industry,’ says Graham

Leigh, group marketing director of b2, the financial services company

and brand launched by Barclays in May. Leigh is not being boastful, but

simply emphasising the huge number of business letters that have landed

on his desk over the past couple of months.



They are all from Johnny-come-lately below-the-line outfits offering

their services and making the bizarre assumption that Leigh has not

already put certain basic building blocks in place. ’It’s amazing how

purveyors of direct marketing don’t practise it when soliciting on their

own behalf,’ Leigh declares with obvious puzzlement. In fact, the long

and exhaustive pitch process is ancient history. The winner, Payne

Stracey, is working closely alongside the ad agency, Banks Hoggins

O’Shea.



As with any major launch - and b2 is seen by many as the biggest

Barclays initiative since the bank pioneered cashpoint machines in 1967

- the initial marketing focus has been above the line. Banks Hoggins

created 20 or so different TV ads, some of which anticipate further

product launches later this year to complement the Advanced Savings

Account that got the ball rolling. TV work has been heavily supported by

press and poster ads, all continuing the creative theme of ’whisper

loudly’. b2 is trying to present itself as a revolutionary proposition,

but at the same time sounding intimate and familiar rather than

complicated and intimidating - the age-old financial services

affliction.



Leigh is ’very concerned’ not to scare people away from his

savings/investment hybrid. His path has been paved to some extent by the

likes of the consumer-friendly First Direct, Virgin Direct and the

supermarket bank accounts.



But b2 claims to go one important step further by getting consumers to

approach investing in the same way they approach saving. For a country

still shy of the stock market, despite all the hype about privatisations

and demutualisations, this isn’t easy.



Although the first wave of b2 has been long on image and short on

hard-sell, the creative has nevertheless been umbilically linked to an

all-pervasive direct response element, in the form of an 0800 number.

’We need to be able to track consumer response right from the word go.

You have to use broadcast media to establish the brand but, once we’ve

achieved that, the marketing spend will be far better utilised below the

line.’



Leigh’s experience at several financial services companies - notably

American Express - has left him in no doubt about the value of direct

marketing relative to advertising. Asked which industry gong would mean

most to him, assuming b2’s launch proves to be as successful as he

hopes, Leigh replies: ’I’m only interested in one kind of recognition:

effectiveness. I couldn’t care less about creative awards and would

actually feel very bad about collecting one if it didn’t translate to

the bottom line.’



To date, about 600,000 mailshots have been sent out to a mixture of

Barclays and non-Barclays customers. The ideal b2 customer is younger

and more affluent than the average bank customer, and early indications

are that the b2 campaign is hitting the right note with a high

proportion of its target market. Divided into two parts, the direct-mail

campaign begins with a teaser mailshot, which invites recipients to

telephone for a fulfilment pack.



The impact of these initial mailings is still being assessed, although

with 120,000 responses already logged, the campaign would seem to be

working well. Barclays has a huge amount of consumer data at its

fingertips and the necessary in-house facilities to manipulate it.

’Managing our data, drilling down into it and interpreting it, is going

to be critical to our success,’ he says. ’Otherwise, we’re shooting

blind.’



Payne Stracey will be ploughing a lot of resources into this

project.



Although Leigh hadn’t worked with the agency before, he was impressed by

’its disciplined approach and its understanding of the direct-marketing

process.’



Phil Cragg, planning director at Payne Stracey, describes the account as

a ’fantastic project because it challenges you on so many levels:

getting the targeting right, the tone of your communication, the timing.

We’re trying to create a totally new customer mindset.’ Because of this,

he doesn’t expect to hear back from many mailshot recipients for some

time.



A lot of the early direct marketing work, Cragg adds, is ’ultimately

about trying to measure people’s discomfort with the downside of

investing.



More than anything, the job in this first phase is to help us learn

what’s out there. It is an enormous challenge and certainly one of the

biggest projects I’ve ever worked on.’



LAUNCH CAMPAIGN



Following in the footsteps of First Direct and the supermarket banks, b2

has targeted 600,000 potential customers, mostly young and affluent, in

the first phase of marketing Barclays’ financial services company.



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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