20th Oct 2006, by Andrew Barr

Start Your Business Magazine - The Not So Good - Barclays Bank Take Over the Mag

I know it goes on, and it may just be me being a little cynical but... I was flicking through some of the cracking articles in the October/November issue of Start Your Business (as mentioned in my last post) when I came across an article comparing the big four banks when it comes to Business Accounts for SME's.

I read with interest that Barclays got voted the number one for SME's according to the magazine and each of the big four had a bit of blurb about their services.

Half way through the Barclays one I started thinking that the writer was maybe related in some way to one of the marketing managers at Barclays because it was an absolutely glowing report with phrases like, "A free start-up guide is offered, which is bursting full of information", and "the account fee is just a miniscule £3".

The words in italics I can never imagine an impartial journalist would ever use, but the sentance that gave it away to me that maybe someone from Barclays had written its owns section for the SYB review is; "Barclays believes that communication is of the upmost importance, this is highlighted in yada yada yada".

As someone who has worked in financial services for a fair while, this more commonly known as blatent PR puff, and fair play to Barclays for negotiating it, not their fault, but what about the readers who think it really is an impartial review bu the mag? The rest of the big four get a much shorter, less positive review, and Barclays is even up first, which would make sense if the story was done alphabetically, but the subsequent companies are not in that order.

I suspect that the article has been thrown in as a sweetner to encourage the bank to get its money's worth for the ad spend it committed to. After all, only two pages after the impartial review, there is a two page spread ad for Barclays. They also have a prominant ad next to the contents page and on the much heralded inside cover back page... oh yeah, and an "importance of marketing" aticle written by guess who? Barclays Head of Commercial Marketing, Fraser Mackay

As I say, fair play to Barlcays Bank for negotiating a great deal, but come on SYB, do you take us SME's for idjits?

I decided to run my own test on which of the big four banks SME's thought was the best using the UK's most well used and free small business advice forum, UKBusinessForums.

You can see the poll by clicking here, at the time of writing Barclays was in the lead :-) sods law.

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