Bank of America Corp. is counting on customers signing up for checking accounts and other services that bear the name of sport teams, colleges and charities, according to an article in last week's Boston Globe. And the program goes way beyond just slapping a logo on a credit card and kicking back a percentage of sales to the benefiting organization.
The bank is exploring allowing customers to accumulate rewards points for signing up for a whole line of banking products (e.g. credit card, CD, home mortgage, home equity loan, checking account) that can be redeemed for special incentives. It's easy to see how this would work for a New England Patriots or Red Sox fan. Accumulate enough points and get a signed team jersey, ball or a dinner with Bill Belichick.
But how would this work for a nonprofit like Boston Medical Center? Perhaps the customer would redeem their "BMC points" for donated products like an iPod or Bose Radio. Maybe a sports team would kick-in an incentive like a signed ball or picture. Or how about giving the customer the option to donate the points back to BMC.
Another idea is to give customers access to BMC's special events and programs. Perhaps they could exchange their points for one of BMC's coveted Boston Marathon numbers. Or in the case of Halloween Town, VIP tickets and free parking. We're limited only by what we can't get donated or are unwilling to part with or buy.
But to make this work, BMC will need to press its donor base to bypass their favorite sports team and alma mater--and the nifty swag they're sure to be offering--and sign up for our charity program. This speaks to just how important it is for BMC to build strong, personal, emotional connections with its donors--not an easy task when they, nor anyone they love, have never spent a night at BMC. In an age when people have lots of choices, you want to make sure that you're really the only one.