Banks aren’t hearing WIIFM

I’ve grown to hate in-branch banking. I’m all about online or ATM transactions and I’ve been with the same bank for over a decade and nearly everything but my mortgage is at this one bank. And it’s a good bank, I’m very very happy with them. I pay nothing in fees, I never have to go into a branch, they give me lots of bonus stuff. I’m a happy customer.

Well, I just got off the phone with another bank — the one who holds my mortgage. It was a sales call and they were trying to get me to switch to them. But it was possibly the worst pitch I have ever heard. They asked me what I liked about my current bank. I said “no fees, and not having to go into the branch”. So they told me: “If you switch to us and do fewer than 15 transactions in a month, you’ll ONLY pay $4/month in fees and you won’t have to come into the branch either… except to meet us and get set up with your account. Oh, and you’ll need to open another type of account with us; like an investment account.”

There was a moment of silence while I waited to hear more. “Surely there’s GOT to be more!” (a set of steak knives, even?). But I never heard it. That was their pitch. To sell me on switching to them, they’re offering to take only $4/month in fees and a couple hours of my time.

Then, they tried to move me along in the sales process by saying: “Is the King St. and Wilson St. location still the closest one for you?”

Now I’m shocked. That location was the closest to me 16 years ago when I lived in ANOTHER city 1,413 miles away (I just checked on Google). These people have my current mortgage and, apparently an address for me that is over a decade and a half old.

So, when I corrected him, he was able to find a closer branch and asked me if a morning appointment or afternoon appointment would work better.

Uh, no. Neither. I got off the phone before he wasted any more of my time.


Let me break this down for you in the simplest terms:

When people buy things, they buy because they get something out of it.

It is called a “benefit”. (“BEN-e-fit”)

People like benefits and it motivates them. (“MO-tiv-ates”)

When you try to convince someone of something, you need to offer them a benefit.

But there’s two important factors:

The benefits you offer need to be greater than the current benefits they receive.

And, the “cost” of getting those new benefits need to be less than the “cost” of inaction.

Unfortunately, the bank that called me just now got it backwards.

Recommended reading: Strategy Maps

The Balanced Scorecard is a popular strategy tool and it has helped businesses for years. But it is only able to go so far on its own, since its origins lie in reviewing instead of forward-looking. Strategy Maps fills that gap by helping businesses create a step-by-step strategic development vision. Strategy Maps extends Balanced Scorecard thinking into the vision-casting process.

iStopOver has a brilliant value proposition

I was doing some writing for an angel investing/venture capital site and my research took me to the blog of Rick Segal (of JLA Ventures). Good content there for investors and start-up founders!

Anyway, one of the companies he mentioned in a recent blog was iStopOver. I read his little write-up about them then went over to their site: They have a residential section, too, but I was more interested in the office section.

Here’s a summary of what they do: Lots of offices have extra office space, unused boardrooms, and workrooms that have been built but not populated by employees. And those businesses have invested resources and are paying overhead on those office environments but aren’t recouping their investment. iStopOver says “why not rent that space out to traveling business people who need an occasional office?”

I think that’s a great idea. It’s a compelling value proposition for both sides of the transaction.

  • The business who rents out their office space earns a little to offset overhead and to make use of unused assets.
  • The business person who rents the space has way more flexibility (and dramatically less cost) than if they bought a membership to one of those virtual office locations, which might not be in the location they need to do business or might be too costly for a smaller company that doesn’t travel frequently.

To tie this back to the Business Diamond Framework™, this is a great way to convert a Support Diamond asset into a revenue-generating one. It is rare for Support Diamond assets or people to directly earn revenue, but this is a great case when that does happen.

Now the challenge that iStopOver is facing is this: They’re only valuable if they offer a lot of choice to travelers so they need to find businesses who are willing to rent space and they need to do it fast.

I just checked their Twitter presence, which seems like a good place to get both businesses and travelers. Seems like they’ve been fairly active, which is good. I forgot to check for a presence on LinkedIn but it seems like it a LinkedIn group aimed at business travelers might be a good idea.

*** Update August 6, 2013: I just learned that iStopOver is now, focusing exclusively on residential instead of business renters. Interesting. Does that mean hotels or companies like Regus still have the corporate market locked up? It will be interesting to see if another business-focused company (similar to the office side of iStopOver) appears in the market.

On external forces affecting the business

bdf-w-words-fullWhen I’m introducing the Business Diamond Framework™ to someone, one of the questions I’m asked is “where does my industry and competition fit?”.

Indeed, their question could be broadened out even further — “Where does my target market fit?” “Where does the economy fit?”Those questions are understandable because the Framework seems to be a picture of the internal business only and so the assumption is that a Framework practitioner works with the 4 Function Diamonds to work on the inside of the business… but how do they interact with information from outside of the business?

The short answer

Because every business is different, each external force is examined in each Function Diamond. Here are three examples.A practitioner going through the Insight stage will:

  1. Look at a competitor’s Leadership Diamond, Support Diamond, Value-Add Diamond, and To-Market Diamond and then compare them to the same Function Diamonds of the target business
  2. Look at how the economy impacts each of the Function Diamonds
  3. Look at how the business’ target market might be impacted by the company’s Leadership or in the company’s Support structures.

    A more detailed answer

    Years ago, when the Business Diamond Framework™ started life, it began as something called the “Total Business Environment”. At that time, its purpose was to examine the various influences on the business. The prehistoric ancestor of the Framework did acknowledge external forces externally, but after frequent use, the tool changed. It became obvious over time that the elements like the economy and the supplier network (and so on) would impact the business in different ways, depending on the business itself. So it became important to look at how those external forces influenced the business and the most obvious way to do that was by reviewing each external force through the lens of the Function Diamonds.

    There are a number of benefits to this method:

    • It simplifies the steps for the practitioner
    • It takes the emphasis off of seemingly unchangeable external factors and puts the emphasis on how those factors influence the business (and how they can be changed)
    • It helps the practitioner to look at each external factor more thoroughly. For example, the practitioner is forced to look at how the economy impacts each of the 4 Function Diamonds.

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