My consulting work for Cash Plus, Inc. — one of the few franchise companies in the financial services industry — has evolved a lot since 1996. At the outset, my former partner and I were responsible for redesigning and rebranding the stores, and setting up new operational and training systems, including a website. For the last 8 years I've served as a one consultant marketing department and webmaster while my former partner has become the videomaster for training materials and Cash Plus TV programming.
In-store promotional posters: a sampler.
Creating a new retail identity system was one of the first tasks we took on for the new Cash Plus owners in 1996. A related component was a complete redesign of the store for both efficiency of operation and to bring the streetside and customer appeal out of the bars-on-the-windows era. The new standards were set out in these two documents I conceived, wrote and designed to be part of the new franchisee pre-opening package.
Tools like these check sized cards are part of a broad strategy for growing the customer base via referrals.
Early stage retail marketing for new Cash Plus family financial centers is strongly oriented toward getting banks and other businesses to refer their customers to local Cash Plus stores. This means the stuff I design always exists inside a systems-oriented marketing context. Projects such as the bank and business brochures, for example, also have a how-to component. In some cases they are comprehensive marketing programs, in others they are kits of marketing components that include detailed instructions for using the tools. The page on the right above is the first page of a 7-page Bank Marketing Toolkit.
One of the franchisor's key jobs is to help franchisees be successful. It's a job that covers all aspects of business operation and marketing, and it needs to be accomplished within a brand-building context. Early on I established a graphic vocabulary that let me convey a professional and consistent brand image across a wide range of communications materials. Over time I've conceived, designed and written nearly a dozen brochures of various types. The far left brochure helps franchisees recruit high quality customer service oriented employees. The other brochure is an information tool they can use to earn rewards for referring prospective franchisees.
The marketing of franchises has changed radically over the last decade. As the growth of the franchise sector has slowed, dedicated in-house sales functions contracted and the importance of business brokers has grown. This was a special mailing I created to pitch the Cash Plus franchise opportunity to business brokers. It worked.
The unfashionably two-dimensional Cash Plus brand mascot was introduced in 2002 as part of the promotional campaign for the second edition of the Cashaway Sweepstakes my partner and I created. Were we surprised when a customer survey showed overwhelming approval for a 2-d character? Nah. Since then, the Cash Plus Guy has appeared in various guises on posters, banners, billboards, TV commercials, coupons, doorhangers and print ads. Plus, full sized standups appear in all store lobbies and he even appears in public as a walkaround costume. His 2014 autobiography, Don't Call Me Kilroy, details his adventures. You can download a PDF by clicking on the link or the red cover.
The popular CP Guy coloring sheets have generated buckets of goodwill for Cash Plus, giving kids something fun to do while their parents are taking care of business. Drawing them (27 so far) is fun business for me. The "Hairways" sheet on the left was created so stores could celebrate Hairstyle Appreciation Day (April 30) with their customers.
“Think of it as Laugh-in meets the Four Stooges in a series of 22-second sitcoms. Fast-paced, campy, goofy, slap-sticky…and unexpected enough that viewers will be hooked before they can click off the sound." That was the way my partner and I pitched The Wall cable TV ad series concept to our Cash Plus client. When we got green-lighted, I designed the set and props, wrote the scripts and thumbs-upped the casting. On a sunny day a few months later, the production company shot six spots (we called them episodes) at a studio in Carson, CA. Thirteen years have passed, but these wacky spots are still bringing new customers to Cash Plus franchisees around the country. Click on the image to view a low-res sample of a spot used during tax season.
Producing materials for various Cash Plus franchisee conferences and conventions has been an opportunity to stretch the graphic vocabulary a little more than usual.
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