Misunderstanding Marketing

As we assume most readers know, Wells Fargo has received some justifiably bad press over the last few weeks as their abhorrent behavior regarding consumer accounts has come to life. Their CEO finally resigned over it. And now, it appears their next phase is to “increase marketing” to “regain trust.”

What they really mean is they are going to run a lot of ads and other media to push their message that they are really good folks. That is just increasing the back-end of marketing as Ralph and I describe in our book Value Acceleration. And as Kotler taught, there is a whole lot more leverage in the front-end of marketing than in the back-end. Apple getting their products right in the last 10 years has grown the company tremendously while allowing them to spend less on the back-end of marketing than do their competitors.

So what is Wells Fargo doing about this issue other than spending on advertising? Even in their messaging they aren’t saying how they are changing what caused this to happen in the first place. One might believe this is all about being caught, not changing root cause behavior.

One does not regain trust with an advertising campaign. One figures out what it takes to regain trust (the front end of marketing problem); puts that effort in place and then one can promote it. But then, like many companies, Wells Fargo is doing it bass-ackwards in my opinion.


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