Building Market Share:Visa USA
In an ultra-competitive industry dominated by market leader American Express, we waged an aggressive, multi-faceted marketing campaign that strengthened Visa USA's leadership position in the highly profitable travel and entertainment market and helped increase its T&E sales volume by more than 20 percent annually.
Visa retained us to help break the stranglehold of its major competitor, American Express, which had long dominated the T&E industry through its virtual "ownership" of the corporate card market. Although Visa was the world's largest consumer payment system, American Express's deep marketing pockets made it a formidable competitor in the volatile T&E industry.
Our strategy was to launch an integrated, dual marketing campaign designed to expand Visa's visibility as the "top-of-mind" card for merchants and the "top-of-wallet" choice for consumers. A number of high-visibility strategic and tactical marketing initiatives were integral to the success of this campaign:
Visa retained us to help break the stranglehold of its major competitor, American Express.
Establishing Brand Identity We conceived and implemented a national survey of restaurateurs and hoteliers that irrevocably established Visa as the "preferred card of dining" and the "preferred card of lodging." By leveraging these imprimaturs into highly successful marketing and branding tag lines, we helped to underscore Visa's leadership position in two of the most critical segments of the T&E market.
Forging Industry Partnerships We identified innumerable partnership opportunities for Visa with the leading T&E associations and trade groups. By nurturing these relationships via speaking engagements for Visa's top executives at merchant trade shows, sponsorship of major industry awards such as AH&MA's "Stars of the Industry" and ASTA's "Travel & Tourism Awards," and educational seminars for travel agents, we significantly elevated Visa's leadership positioning with key decision-makers in the T&E industry.
Reinforcing Advertising Campaign By integrating a range of affordable P.R. strategies into Visa's corporate marketing program, we successfully extended the reach of its overall print and broadcast advertising campaign. We created and managed special events showcasing advertising spokesperson Bob Dole, and developed on-going columns and bylined articles in key industry publications that featured Visa advertising. The result of these targeted efforts was to achieve maximum marketing impact at minimal cost.
Creating Special Events We orchestrated the launch of Visa's ground-breaking "Visa Rewards for Travel" program with a major press conference held in New York City. This high-visibility event presented several challenges: Stand-alone press materials had to be developed to incorporate 24 merchant partners participating in the program; and a highly complex publicity program targeted to a broad range of consumer and industry press had to be managed from concept through execution. The results were outstanding: more than 50 media representatives attended the event; major feature coverage appeared in hundreds of industry publications, daily newspapers and national consumer magazines.
Enhancing Consumer Awareness We provided on-going support of Visa's consumer T&E programs by creating service pieces targeted to existing and potential cardholders, developing and publicizing program enhancements such as special offers and values, and crafting press releases and radio news releases spotlighting newsworthy travel and dining trends. We leveraged Visa's partnership with the National Trust's Historic Hotels of America (HHA) to create an innovative program of driving tours to noteworthy historic sites and hotels across the nation. This campaign allowed Visa to tap into the emerging "heritage tourism" trend by developing a series of free consumer itinerary booklets linking member HHA properties with historic sites in the region. Print coverage of the national program reached nearly 30 million readers, and consumer requests for brochures totaled nearly 50,000.
Launching Cause-Marketing Programs Visa unveiled a partnership with Citymeals-on-Wheels that expanded the regional charity into a national organization to feed homebound elderly reaching consumers in 13 cities. We managed the publicity surrounding Visa's launch of this umbrella charity by orchestrating a gala press event in Washington D.C. with corporations to increase funding for home-delivered meals. As the program was introduced in key cities, we created and implemented the local fundraising events, managed the synergies between the regional and national charities, and developed additional publicity vehicles to elevate consumer awareness of Visa's "good citizen" reputation.