Utility Marketing – How well do you know your customers.

liberty_national_golf_club_in_jersey_city_2Greetings from Liberty National!

I love charity auctions, if only for the fun of bidding against friends. Back in March, I attended a charity gala in NYC that had a fantastic auction. There were fantastic cases of Bordeaux and week stays at villas in Greece, but the item that caught my eye was a foursome in the Pro-Am at Liberty National prior to the Barclays golf tournament this week.

My condo in Manhattan overlooked the spot in Jersey City where the course is now, so I got to watch it being built whenever I was in the city. A number of people were in the bidding early, but it quickly dropped to just two of us. Every time one of us would raise our paddle, the collective gasp from the crowd grew bigger. It was getting pricey, but I wasn’t going to let it slip through my fingers. Apparently my opponent wasn’t either. After this got well beyond what I thought I was ready to spend, I turned to seek out my mystery opponent and give him or her my evil stare.

tgImagine my surprise when I saw dear friend Thomas ‘Tommy’ Gibson bidding against me. His coy smile told me that he knew who he was bidding against. Tommy is a great actor from Criminal Minds and Dharma and Greg fame and fantastic golfer. We met years ago when we were paired up at Bill Murray’s Pebble Beach Pro-am about ten years ago. Mutual friend Samuel Jackson got us together and we all hit it off, even though we didn’t win anything that time.

After we made eye contact, he waved me over, and we huddled to straighten out this bidding mess. We agreed to raise the bid and then split it between us. Arm in arm, we both raised our paddles to announce our decision. The place broke out with applause and laughter.

tommyWe retired to the bar to catch up and figure out who we were going to invite to join us. We both thought SamJack should be one. Tommy then went scrambling for a piece of paper to make a note, while I simply opened the Chase giftplanner app on my iphone and made a note next to SamJacks entry. His birthday shopping was done!

Tommy took my phone and started playing with the app, asking me ‘how much did it cost’, ‘why did Chase do it’ and ‘why isn’t there anything under my name’. I helped him download it to his iphone, and we went back to the evening.

Fast forward to the pro-am this week. Almost the first words out of his mouth when he dropped his bags off in my condo were how much he liked the Chase giftplanner app and how it helped him keep everyone straight. Chase gained a fan through the free iphone application.

This is a perfect example of the power of what I call ‘utility marketing’. Chase took the time to understand its customers and create a helpful tool that people will use regularly, before the customer makes a purchase. Every interaction with this application is an interaction with the Chase brand, and every interaction with it connects Chase with budgeting, gift giving and careful spending. All good things.

screenshot_01Utility Marketing shows you know your customers and hope to simplify their lives. By weaving yourself into their daily lives, you create opportunities to cut through traditional advertising clutter and leave a lasting, positive brand impact.

After Tommy put his bags down, I asked to see his phone. I immediately went to look up my name in the GiftPlanner. He had a note ‘one down golf balls to replace the ones Bob will lose in the Pro-Am’. When I looked up, I saw that same devilish smile that I saw in the charity auction and we both started laughing.

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