It's interesting to see how lenders deal with my requests for marketing literature, especially when I contact the smaller, specialist ones where I usually speak to one of the senior managers. At Commercial Acceptances, for example, I ended up talking to the managing director (and very helpful he was too). But I wasn't impressed by the way some of them dealt with my enquiries.
Take Credit & Mercantile, another bridging finance lender, for example. Having said it would send me everything I needed to include it in my reviews, it wasn't until a week later – when I was already beyond my deadline – that the yes turned into a no. If this is the way it treats a potential PR opportunity, I wonder how it deals with its customers. Still, it meant I could replace it with BuildStore, a pleasant experience.
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When I started the research for this week's review, Commercial Acceptances explained that it was in the middle of a redesign. But instead of making me wait, it supplied me with some of the old stuff and some of the new stuff so that I could see the difference.
It tells me that the text will remain largely the same so Iexpect the new corporate brochure will continue to promote its proposition of “the fastest property finance available”. But instead of a staid blue with white text, it will probably be in one of the bright colours you can see alongside this review. Actually, the pink works quite well and I like the idea of using the initial letters of the company name as the first two letters in the word 'calm'.
I'm not sure about the colours in the advertisement though – “we don't like snails” may be a fun play on fast finance, but brown and pink? Not for me. I like the way it demonstrates how it helps different types of customer though, with various examples in the corporate brochure.
Pity about the long, long case study on the website – much better to have short, punchy text here if you want people to read it.
Occasionally, I come across a set of material and feel both impressed and at home. This is true of BuildStore. First off, it has a comprehensive website for consumers. It's a busy site with, among other things, calculators, land-finding tools and practical help and advice on pretty much everything to do with self-build. There's an online tour of its Scottish visitor centre, details of an aerial photography service and help with how to asses a plot of land. I would be quite happy to return again and again to go through all of this and I'm not even in the market.
Pity about the different colour for each page, though. This detracts from, rather than adds to, the impact of the site. Alongside this is an intermediary site with customer profiles, information on how things work, product information and case studies to help with developing PR, plus downloads of the various lender application forms. There's also an intermediary information pack with product guides in a uniform, unfussy design and layout. I like it when stuff is focussed on the audience it's aimed at – gives the impression that the company really understands what it's doing. Well done guys.