Why the worlds global local bank called me for PR and how confessions of a pricing man can make news

by Jim James

Founder of EASTWEST Public Relations.

Second value pricing comes to mind as the registration for EASTWEST Public Relations was confirmed from Companies House. This takes EASTWEST PR from a sole proprietor to private limited, and this requires calling HSBC to convert to private limited data. When trying to inquire about the length of time the process required, there was a backlog of people needing to work on bounce back loans instead of the new account openings, of which many companies have applied for and it has been a saving grace. HSBC alone had 110, 000 applications. Six years’ worth of requests had been processed in six weeks, leaving the team massively behind. We at EASTWEST PR gave our compliments to them and they were glad to hear that. 

What did Counting Up want to do with EASTWEST PR?

 

Counting Up sent a letter to EASTWEST PR congratulating the company on opening the business. The letter reads that Counting Up makes starting your own company simple, and a bank account can be opened in five minutes by scanning the QR code available, downloading the app, and following the setup steps. This would lead to having an account number, sort code, and Mastercard. It continues to say that it’s entrepreneurs that power the company and writes, “We, like you, became fed up with the month-long wait to open a High Street bank account with their length application forms.” Within forty-eight hours of opening a company and going to Companies House, EASTWEST PR received this personalized letter, which is both impressive and slightly bemusing. From a public relations point of view, is it good to get such a personal email so quickly? Could it be seen as efficient or slightly eerie?

Counting Up’s website reveals a narrative about the founders who studied in school together and started this bank in 2018, but there is no press coverage to be seen. There is a blog, and an apparently astounding 20,000 customers qualifying for the free account or up to £9.99 a month. It calls itself the “accounting bank” because it counts and combines banking and accounting for business. This appears to be a great idea. On TrustPilot, one piece of coverage explained that Counting Up is not an official bank, which means its deposits will not benefit from the standard £85,000 protection that comes with the Financial Services Compensation (FSC) scheme.

 

From a PR point of view, Counting Up provides a great proposition. It’s free, quick, and integrates banking with online accounting as this would save from doing a direct feed from a zero account to the HSBC account and back again. Ultimately, this saves time. However, there simply is not enough supporting evidence found online to make one feel comfortable or happy enough about taking that step.

What is influencing here is cascade theory, which has been mentioned previously. The cascade theory of what other people are doing, including an artist, shows the importance of influencing people to get viral PR as this helps to reach out to those who are easily influenced, as it is those people who can provide excellent PR. Even though Counting Up has a lovely narrative on its website, the issues are that there is a lack of conversations online creating the cascade that is reassuring people on what to do with their money. 

Visual Representation of Cascade Theory in action

The confessions of a pricing man

One important thing to look at is price. With Counting Up, do you want to pay £9.99 for your banking integrated with your finance app? Are you getting value? Most likely. As Herman Simon, considered to be the father of modern-day pricing, says, ultimately the consumer or customer is only willing to pay for the value that he or she receives.

Hermann Simon

What Hermann Simon, author of Confessions of a Pricing Man, goes on to say is that price affects everything. Not only does he state that ultimately customers will need to pay for the value that they get, but that the only fundamental driver of willingness to pay is the perceived value in the eyes of the customer, “perceived” being the keyword. Often in PR, there’s this concept of perception management. The perceived value of your business and your offering is what people are really going to pay for. Herman goes on to give an illustration and talks about the second-order effect, which is not something often mentioned in public relations. In PR, people tend to go for the primary order effect, which is “If you buy this, what do you get out of it?”. The secondary order effect is much more powerful. Herman Simon brings up the case of the air conditioner that was being sold for trucks. While this company was making premium quality air conditioners, they were losing market share to the companies that were making low-cost air conditioning units. This led them to commission a survey, and what they found was that the buyers of the expensive trucks were buying the expensive air conditioners, and the real value was the reduced number of sick days of the drivers due to fatigue in the heated cabins. The lower-cost air systems were reducing the quality of the environment for the drivers, who were then unable to drive longer distances and needed to take more sick days. The proposition for that air conditioner company became,” Buy us because the performance of our components is higher and it costs more to buy because it’s better quality.” That became their marketing message, and that is how the secondary order effect takes place. 

When you’re talking about the primary order effect for your business, people in PR often people look for an agency and ask, “How much does it cost to get noticed?” That is the primary order. The secondary order is that they want a new contract, or they want to look good, or they want something else. As you are looking at your marketing and PR, and there are issues with your product in terms of marketing, can you extend the value by saying, “We provide this quality, this value, so that you can do this”?

 

EASTWEST Public Relations is included in this ’round-up’ of Top PR Agencies (See Page 15)

Walter of the Progress Shed said the biggest challenge that they have with clients is the lack of ambition. On the Counting Up website, there is a narrative about ambition. It is also compelling that Tim Foraker and his high school friend, Mike Mote, have the ambition to building something bigger and greater than what currently exists. The problem is not that it’s not only £9.99 and integrating banking with account software, it’s the secondary order value that matters, because looking after money and looking after accounting is only a part of a bigger picture. It is a part of running a business.

 

HSBC called EASTWEST PR and thanked us again for the compliments to the call centre. They asked if we would be willing to give a testimonial and speak with their PR agency Grayling as a bounce back loan recipient that was applied for and delivered through HSBC. Being in PR, there is value of PR for both EASTWEST PR and HSBC, and there is no embarrassment because it is a prudent thing to do from a business perspective. The secondary order value of working with a bank like HSBC is the reassurance that funds will be safe, and the continuity of where the business currently resides. There is also the halo effect that can come with large brands as you plan your PR and manage your community. Counting Up has a good offer, but also take into consideration what is the challenge for a company like Counting Up when it comes to overcoming how they are communicating secondary order value. As Herman Simon’s book says, price affects everything, but it’s not just the price. How willing are you to pay for the value you receive as an entrepreneur or business owner? Reflect on how you are communicating the value that you bring to the company, and the company brings to the customer.

 

EASTWEST Public Relations is included in this ’round-up’ of Top PR Agencies (See Page 15)

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