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The American Express OPEN Forum is an online community for small business owners, with articles, videos, discussion boards, and a host of ways to connect with other business owners easily.
A great way for American Express to offer “value added” benefits to American Express OPEN cardmembers, while promoting the brand and further solidifying the company’s credibility and reputation as “the card to have” for business owners, the American Express OPEN Forum is truly a win-win for the company and cardmembers alike.
Alone, it probably wouldn’t justify the annual fee of most American Express business cards, but combined with the other benefits and rewards offered to Amex cardmembers, it’s another valuable tool small business owners receive to help grow their business when they choose American Express.
How AmEx OPEN Forum Works
The home page of the website showcases the “IdeaHub,” which offers informative articles, videos, a list of upcoming small business and industry events, and access (as a lurker) to read the discussion boards.
Some of the more interesting content includes a regularly updated small business spotlight, a special video feature called Project RE:Brand and a series focusing on Small Business Saturday, the American Express initiative to get consumers shopping at local retailers the day after Black Friday.
The site also features content touting the benefits of American Express programs like AcceptPay, InsuranceEdge, and SearchManager.
But to really maximize the potential of the Amex OPEN Forum, you must be an Amex OPEN cardmember.
What’s Inside the Amex OPEN Forum?
Once you sign up for the Amex OPEN forum as an Amex OPEN cardmember, you’re able to create a profile, list your business, and gain entry into the Amex OPEN Connectodex, the website’s proprietary networking tool.
Think of the Connectodex as “LinkedIn” for American Express OPEN cardmembers. You can search for members by the type of business they own, connect with other business owners who may be interested in your products or services, and place businesses on your “Radar.” This means you’re keeping an eye on that member, but haven’t yet interacted yet.
As an Amex OPEN Forum member, you can also participate in discussions on the discussion board, and comment on articles and videos posted in the IdeaHub. If you’re like me and can’t help sharing your opinions, reading a good (or bad!) article can send you clamoring for the “Apply for a Card” tab at the top of the page or the cleverly positioned “No Card?” icon in the left hand corner of the screen…. American Express is definitely one example of a company who knows what to do with social media, and how to do it.
Is This What We Can Expect?
It’s no secret that, as credit begins to become more available again, credit card companies are competing harder than ever for our business. The clever ones are finding ways to win customers without spending a fortune.
It’s clear to see that Amex has invested heavily in developing and maintaining the Amex OPEN Forum with lots of relevant, high-quality content. But the cost is in time, creativity and marketing budget dollars. They’re not lowering annual fees, increasing rewards or handing out free cash to new credit card applicants.
The credit card companies have already shown their creativity in finding every loophole imaginable in the Credit CARD Act. It’s nice to see one credit card company putting those brilliant creative talents to work in a way that is a win-win for the customers and the company.
There’s a limit to how low credit card companies can cut fees and how many rewards and bonuses they can offer. But there’s really no limit to how big the Amex OPEN Forum can grow; it’s a valuable tool, and customer involvement will make it even more so.
The list of “pros” to the Forum is extremely long. The only negative is for those of us without an Amex OPEN card, because there’s really nothing else like this out there.