I realize that this isn’t a new campaign, but it continually serves as a great reminder and what marketing should do. It’s also the perfect example of what has been coined “marketing as service” – growing your business by selling less and doing more.
Instead of simply marketing how American Express partners with and support small business, they considered how they could provide small businesses even more; creating an online community designed to help small businesses grow. It’s not simply a case of altruism, but shrewd strategic business decision. American Express understands that if the small businesses grow, they grow.
1. It all started with research and knowing their customer – In their research, they learned that small business owners wanted to connect with other small business owners. They also learned that while the small businesses were interested in social media, they found it challenging and therefore, weren’t using it.
2. They created something with long-term customer value – Truly providing something meaningful to the customer takes a long-term commitment, but can pay off in huge ways. By creating OPEN Forum, American Express gives small business owners a chance to connect with each other and market their services. They also have built on their original concept by adding business apps that can help streamline operations and improve business productivity.
3. Providing “knowledge” doesn’t mean being the only expert – American Express didn’t just say that they wanted to be a knowledge resource, they created a forum for their customers to actively engage with industry experts. Their idea hub is focused on a set amount of key topics where they leverage leading experts in creating content that is exlusive to OPEN Forum.
4. Continue the creativity – Instead of writing blogs and creating training videos on branding and marketing, they created Project RE:Brand where they partnered small businesses with small agencies to help those businesses rebrand and market themselves.
5. It’s all about trust – Branding is all about believability and a promise that can be backed up. By creating a long-lasting program that has grown and expanded over time, American Express has realized not only increased perception with small businesses as being accessible, but members have provided feedback saying that American Express has successfully helped them.