Visa effort aims to raise b-to-b profile

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Visa USA last month launched a new b-to-b campaign aimed at differentiating its business services from its consumer services.

Also last month, Visa named Susanne Lyons to the position of chief marketing officer. Lyons was previously partner and area manager for Russell Reynolds Associates, a global executive search firm. In her new position, Lyons is responsible for leading Visa’s brand and marketing initiatives, including the new b-to-b campaign.

The campaign has the tagline "It’s everywhere you want your company to be," extending the familiar "It’s everywhere you want to be" tagline for Visa’s consumer products. The campaign was developed by BBDO West, San Francisco. Spending for the campaign was undisclosed.

Low awareness prompts ads

"There was low awareness of Visa’s Commercial Solutions products," said Dawn Volan, director of advertising at Visa. Visa’s Commercial Solutions division offers payment processing, information management, supplier management and other business financial services.

"When you say Visa, everyone immediately goes to the card," Volan said. "We needed to get people beyond thinking about the card to communicating the benefits of Visa commercial services."

The campaign includes print, online, collateral and events. A series of print ads is running in publications including IndustryWeek, CFO, Strategic Finance, Business Finance and Purchasing.

"Leveraging Visa’s consumer campaign, ‘Everywhere you want to be,’ is a good way to instill awareness in the business audience," said Gary Stein, senior analyst at Jupiter Research.

"It automatically builds association and is a good way to get a lot of momentum quickly."

Stein said it makes sense for Visa to launch a b-to-b campaign now.

"Not only is awareness [of Visa’s b-to-b services] low, but American Express has taken the route of going after small businesses with its ‘Open’ campaign," Stein said, pointing to the integrated ad campaign for American Express Open: The Small-Business Network. "American Express is going right at the business decision-maker demographic."

Visa’s commercial services campaign is aimed primarily at the midmarket-to-large enterprise customer, although there is a small-business component.

Visa defines small businesses as companies with annual sales of up to $25 million, midmarket as those with annual sales between $25 million and $500 million, and large-market as those with more than $500 million in annual sales.

"We really believe our total spending management approach helps companies cover the entire spectrum of purchases, whether they are on the road, in the office, decentralized or centralized," said Dave Costa, VP-commercial solutions at Visa USA. "In the new campaign, we talk about our versatile payment solutions."

Playing off the new tagline, the print ads feature different executions, each beginning with the statement "I want to be … ."

For example, an ad for Visa’s data services features a business executive sitting in a chair surrounded by stacks of file folders. The copy reads, "I want to be surrounded by intelligence, not information." Another ad, aimed at the general business audience, shows a business executive with his arms crossed, saying, "I want to be in the CFO Hall of Fame."

All of the ads feature the "swan chair," a distinctive chair designed by Fritz Hanson in 1958 and considered technologically innovative.

"The swan chair is a platform to speak from, for business executives to voice their aspirations," Volan said. "We want to use the chair as an identifier that Visa and Visa Commercial Solutions can help you reach those aspirations."

While Visa’s past b-to-b advertising has talked about specific products, "The new campaign emphasizes the higher-level strategic importance of managing payment processes more effectively and efficiently," Costa said.

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