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BtoB's Best Marketers: Mary Ann Fitzmaurice Reilly, American Express Co.

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The latest American Express OPEN television spots follow small-business owners into the trenches. “Small-business owners are the heroes of our story,” said Mary Ann Fitzmaurice Reilly, senior VP-customer marketing and engagement at American Express OPEN. And while owning one's own business “may be gritty,” she said, small-business owners “wouldn't have it any other way.” The current campaign consists of TV spots as well as videos and other content on OPEN Forum and social media channels; the content focuses on how hard-working small-business owners are coping with financial hardships. For instance, in one spot for the American Express Plum Card, Nelson Gutierrez of Strictly Bicycles, a New York-area bike repair shop and café, talks about how his “cash flow can change with the wind.” The Plum line of credit helps him manage his cash-flow issues. American Express OPEN's biggest one-day event continues to be Small Business Saturday, the annual day it established to promote small businesses the weekend immediately after Thanksgiving. This year the event will deepen its focus on communities running the day themselves. “Last year we saw communities band together to promote Small Business Saturday,” Fitzmaurice Reilly said, citing research that the day generated $5.5 billion in revenue for independent merchants. “This year we're going to be supportive of that and encourage it on a larger basis.” In addition to digital tools, collateral and shopping bags supplied to local chambers of commerce, AmEx will run a TV campaign, created by Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore. Social and digital media, as well as public relations efforts, will again be critical components in promoting the day. Fitzmaurice Reilly said she's also busy promoting OPEN for Government Contracting, a series of educational seminars and online content designed to help small-business owners get their share of government contracts. Last month, American Express OPEN launched CEO BootCamp for Women, an ongoing initiative to help women entrepreneurs that includes an online community and live events. “It's focused on the three pillars: confidence, competence and connections,” Fitzmaurice Reilly said.
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