Shawmut Bank has joined forces with a large affinity marketing company to put together a package of communications services for small-business customers.
The package, called Shawmut Advantage, was created with Trans National Group of Boston, which specializes in affinity marketing of travel, communications, and financial services.
Shawmut Advantage will provide discounts on Airborne Express overnight delivery, Skytel paging services, and Sprint long-distance and calling cards.
"We're talking about multiple products that are readily used by small businesses," said John Hall, a Shawmut senior vice president who heads its small-business banking group. "Because of their Shawmut relationship, they will get discounts on these products at no extra cost."
Though other banks offer single-service affinity programs for their small-business customers, the Shawmut program is among the first to package several programs together.
The idea for this kind of affinity packaging is not new. Last year Keycorp in Cleveland considered a similar program but shifted gears away after focus groups pointed out that some of the prospective vendors compete with the bank's own small-business customers.
Rich Dorfman, a Shawmut vice president in charge of small-business marketing, said its own focus groups voiced similar concerns. To avoid such conflicts, the bank chose services that few small companies provide.
"We're very conscious of not putting our customers on the defensive by taking business away from them," said Mr. Dorfman. "These are very important and expensive services, and I don't think we're cannibalizing the sales opportunities of our customers."
The introduction of the service package comes despite an agreement reached earlier this year calling for a merger between Shawmut and Fleet Financial Group Inc. of Providence, R.I. That agreement awaits regulatory approval.