OnDeck launches 'we're not a bank' campaign

OnDeck Australia has kicked off a large-scale advertising campaign as it seeks to boost awareness in the small business sector and differentiate itself from the banks. The campaign will include advertising on buses, trams and billboards and has already been running on radio – voiced by luminaries including Alan Jones and Ray Hadley. 

Branded as the #turnthatNOaround campaign, the key message is to tell small businesses who have experienced a “no” from their banks that that OnDeck will provide them with an opportunity to secure a faster loan. 

“Small business owners, which constitute the backbone of Australia’s economy, need regular cash injections to grow, but spend most of their time either applying or waiting for their banks to approve loans. In the end, they are left with no for an answer which means missing out on potential expansion opportunities,” OnDeck Australia chief executive Cameron Poolman said. 

The business has been lending in the Australian market for just over 18 months. Poolman told AB+F that its current branding was similar to corporates such as the big banks and that it needed branding which reinforced its distinct offering.

“Our product was different but we looked the same as the banks. We needed our business and products to really resonate with our potential customers."

'Don’t tell us you’re a bank'

Through a number of focus groups on its branding and advertising, small business owners told OnDeck that they wanted to know more about its products.

“They told us: 'Don’t tell us you’re a bank'. They wanted to know about our business including our relationship with accounting software firm MYOB and the benefits it would provide them," said Poolman. “It’s important that we distinguish ourselves in the sector particularly as the big banks don’t have a big focus on this market.” 

He claimed that the radio campaign is already delivering for OnDeck. “We are fortunate to tap into a captured market of small business owners who listen to Jones and Hadley.” 

Despite the challenges confronting US peer-to-peer lenders, Poolman said the Australian business is growing steadily. Acknowledging issues around poor loan volume growth for OnDeck Capital in the United States, Poolman said that business has already taken steps to improve its loan quality by implementing new credit policies. 

“The Australian business is very different from our business in the US. We have a different management team with different owners including MYOB. It’s an independent business," he said, adding that the local business also adopts robust lending practices that are based around OnDeck’s credit score assessment of cash flow management. 

Poolman sees a lot of opportunity in the local market as the banks consistently ignore the unsecured lending to the small business market. 

His comments follow the recent intervention by ASIC as the big four continue to drag their feet on addressing unfair contract terms in small business loans. 

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