Title: VP-general manager, charge card product management
Company: American Express OPEN
Years in current job: 10 months
Quote: “The small-business economy is coming back stronger than has been reported. At American Express, the average spend [on OPEN business cards] is at a record high.”
Since being named head of charge card product management for American Express OPEN in January, Marcy Shinder has overseen the rollout of new products and marketing campaigns designed to show how American Express is helping small businesses succeed in a tough economy.
Shinder, who has been with American Express since 1993, was previously VP-brand management at OPEN. Her expanded role includes management of all OPEN charge card products, including product line strategy, marketing, promotion and pricing.
“Coming out of last year and into this year, January 2010 was like turning a new page in how we thought about marketing and the business,” Shinder said. “Everything is different now. Advertising is different. The old way of advertising was one-way—you to your audience.
“Over the last year, it's become a dialogue. Customers expect a two-way channel. We used to look at advertising as a way to sell our products, and now we look at advertising as a way to talk to our customers and inspire them.”
Shinder's first priority in her new role was to talk to small-business customers to determine how OPEN could help them run their operations more effectively. She used blogs, Twitter, the OPENForum online community and other social media platforms to research customer needs.
“It's ingenious the way product owners are putting the cards to use for their businesses,” Shinder said. “This is not a credit card—these guys are using this as a digital online payment system in very sophisticated ways, earning tens of thousands of points that they are using to reinvest in their businesses.”
Using the insight gained from customer research, Shinder led the rollout of new charge card products and services, including a membership rewards “reload” program that gives business-card members 20% of their points back when they use points earned.
The research also led to the development of an integrated ad campaign, “Start Booming,” that debuted in July. The effort celebrates small businesses and shows how they are helping to revitalize the still-struggling economy. Developed by Crispin Porter+Bogusky, Boulder, Colo., the campaign includes TV, print and online. The budget was undisclosed.
“Today, we are literally seeing small businesses booming,” Shinder said. “We wanted to show how we can help other small businesses start booming.”
The campaign features actual American Express business customers and gives examples of how they are using OPEN products to help grow their businesses.
On OPENForum.com, a new feature called Share Your Story lets business owners provide examples of how they are succeeding in today's economy and offers tips for small businesses. OPEN also uses “Twitterviews,” which are interviews with small-business owners posted on the Twitter home page.
“Social media is a vital part of our brand,” Shinder said. “As part of your charge card, you get access to Connectodex, and we can promote you on the site.” Connectodex is an internal social network that Shinder helped launch last year that lets businesses set up profiles and network with their peers.