I've been meaning to write this post for a long time and decided it was only believable if I collected the direct mail I received from American Express in a 2 week period and posted a photo. Before I go into my rant, a few caveats to start. I am a big fan of Amex's products and a few years back came within one person of being hired as a Director of Online Marketing in their internet center of excellence group (see read more). Ok, back to my rant....
Back when I started my online advertising consulting company I chose American Express as my corporate card because it had a great platform, good rates, and I can bundle my rewards points between that card and my personal card. Plus, I didn't want any revolving credit cards....bad habits, no? Anyway, I should have known I was going to be deluged with Amex direct mail.
Seriously, check out this photo of the DM l I've received over the past 10 days or so (remember it was Xmas week a notoriously bad time to mail). That's about 15 pieces of DM for both card accounts. Out of those pieces I got solicitations for different credit cards (platinums and One), more credit cards, how to spend rewards points, lines of credit, and Costco (why???). It is unbelievable how much junk mail this company sends out and a lot of it is duplication. Seriously, how many fee free additional gold rewards cards can a family possibly have and if I've ignored it enough times....can you get the hint? No, my kids are too young and besides if Amex gave them a card, they'd buy more toys creating a junk slugfest that would rival Ali and Frazier between Amex's junk mail and Playmobil toys. Or, how about this mailing on behalf of Costco? Come on - what partner marketing genius agreed to bombard their valuable customer base with that retailer's junk mail? Why am I so fired up?
- I pay an annual fee for my credit cards and the retailers I use pay a merchant fee. Perhaps if Amex would stop running amok or used alternative marketing channels, they could lower their marketing costs which are up 12% for comparable 12 month periods and pass those savings on to customers or return more profit to investors.
- Back in the day, a former CIO at AT&T Consumer, JP Peterson, who came from American Express in the early 90s, used to preach to AT&T marketers about limiting customer touches via direct mail to reduce customer churn and marketing expenses. I think Amex should dig out some of JP's older plans and cut down the junk.
- DM is expensive and don't give me the branding play. I received 15 DM pieces in a 2 week period and at a $1 assumed cost per piece (creative, printing, postage, paper. agency, etc) and 15 pieces per month - that calculates to $180/year per customer. Sure, they probably have some smart models that predict increasing spending gets more merchant fees and retention but that's just too much DM.
- Don't try and argue with me how I have a business and consumer account. Amex is too smart to not know I'm the same customer. The rewards accounts are linked, I had to give them personal data to get my corporate card approved, and they add the expenses together to figure out my ability to spend per month.
- While Amex is direct mail crazy, I get precious little email from them which is surprising because I have online statements and agreed to receive promotional emails from them.
- Finally, I've ditched their rip-off Sign and Travel/Extend Payment and Flight Insurance products so many times, that I scream when I get DM telling me that I can get rewards points for these tools. Yah, you're a tool when you get hooked on S&T and see 24% interest rates on your purchases.
How can you rationalize dumping so much junk mail to an online customer when email is so much cheaper and affordable? How can you not know my accounts are linked? How can you not rationalize the amount of direct customer contacts in a month?
At this point if there was a good offer in there that I might like, I'll miss it with all of the other junk messaging I get from Amex. Come on American Express, we card holders deserve better than this daily dumping of direct mail. Remember, there is no branding value from seeing your logo on the way down to the trash can.
PardonMyFrench (with love),
My good friend Dave sent this email to me and allowed me to post it regarding Costco. The one reply I'll make is that if you get an Amex card in a Costco store, that's fine because you are a Costco customer. I'm not, there isn't one nearby (they should know that), and it just becomes another piece of credit card solicitation.
Hey! Don't knock the Costco mail. The only credit card Costco takes is Amex. We signed up for the free for members Costco Amex card. It works the mostly the same as my old Amex card. Costco membership is $60. Amex green card was $80 ($55 + $25 for additional card). When we got our Costco card, I canceled my old green Amex card. Since we were already Costco members & Amex cardholders- net savings- $80 a year.I think the difference in the cards is that instead of reward points, you get 1% cash back. Since Amex wasn't my main card, no big loss there. That and the new card says member since 2006 instead of 1995
Of course, I didn't get the job because I was from the outside. I wasn't told that of course, but it is well know in the FiServe industry that you have the odds against you the higher up you go. In fact, I was told by my HR contact that they hire about 11% of Directors and above from outside the company and most of those end up in a business planning role. Seriously, don't get your hopes up if you end up towards the end of a long and grueling recruting process unless you have an ace up your sleeve at the company. I'd still welcome an opportunity at American Express, but umm, that won't stop me from writing this post.