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Exclusive Chat with Shawna Miller

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mastercardShawna Miller – Vice President, Marketing & Communications, Mastercard in Canada


1. As Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Mastercard Canada, what advice can you give to small business owners when it comes to marketing?

In today’s world, it’s critical to have a digital and online presence, but small business owners often wear many hats and may be strapped for resources. That’s why it’s important to work with partners who can provide tools and resources, such as Digital Main Street, where Mastercard is a founding partner. Creating an online presence can benefit small businesses the way accepting electronic payments did: with electronic payments, small businesses were able to spend less time handling cash and more time connecting with customers and delivering great experiences. Since most purchases today start online, creating a digital presence will help small businesses expand their reach and better connect with their customers, wherever they are.


2. The Augmented Reality Experience app was recently launched by the marketing and communications team of Mastercard Canada. What was the inspiration behind the launch of this app?

Additionally, research from a 2018 J.D. Power study shows that rewards continue to drive consumer satisfaction with credit cards, and a related study found that 47% of consumers who switched to a new credit card did so for better rewards, yet only a third of credit card holders said they completely understand all the benefits available to them.

Even though we live in an increasingly digital world, valuable information about card benefits is often stuck in paper brochures or somewhere on a website, waiting to be found. With the new Mastercard app, cardholders can easily find and fully explore their benefits in an immersive, digital environment that can be easily accessed with their mobile device.


3. The app was part of the annual employee innovation challenge. How important would you say innovation is when it comes to marketing and communications?

Innovation is important across all levels of business, including marketing and communications.

We recognized many years ago that marketing is about more than the brand – it’s a business driver.

And our thinking goes beyond creative, to the customer experience. At Mastercard, innovation is not a department within the company. It’s part of our DNA, and throughout the year, we engage our talent by challenging them to think of new ways to benefit cardholders. In this case, members of Mastercard’s North American marketing and communications team in Canada created the idea for an augmented reality app to bring card benefits to life, and they had the opportunity to work and develop the app with colleagues across North America and globally.


4. What would you say are some of the strategies that small business owners can implement to encourage a culture of innovation in their team?

Always put your customers at the centre of everything you do. In the case of our new augmented reality app, we knew that cardholders who had a complete understanding of the benefits offered by their credit card issuer were significantly more satisfied than those who didn’t; however, a lot of valuable information about the card is often stuck in paper brochures or somewhere on a website, waiting to be found. With the new Mastercard app, cardholders can easily find and explore their benefits in an immersive, digital environment that can be easily accessed with their mobile device.

Business owners should also encourage all staff to bring ideas forward – it helps keep employees engaged and innovative ideas can come from anyone. For instance, in our case, the idea to bring card benefits to life through an augmented reality app was created by members of Mastercard’s North American marketing and communications team during an innovation challenge. The challenge was open to all employees across the globe and ideas could span across all categories.

5. What can you tell us about the Augmented Reality Experience app and how do you believe it will benefit Canadian small business owners?

Mastercard’s new augmented reality app lets cardholders see, explore and access the benefits of their Mastercard. Once the cardholder downloads and launches the app, they will be prompted to scan their Mastercard to start their session. The cardholder will see three portals, each one representing one of the three categories that Mastercard benefits fall into: Experiences, Everyday Value and Peace of Mind. To explore a benefit area, cardholders can tap a portal to launch a fully immersive 360-degree experience which brings that area to life.


6. What is sonic branding, and can you tell us the reason behind Mastercard’s decision of launching a sonic brand?

Today, the lines between the physical and digital worlds are blurred, and brands have to connect across dimensions. With the rise of new technologies, and the always-on digital mindset of consumers, it’s important to deliver immersive and seamless experiences that resonate with the way consumers live, shop and pay in an increasingly digital and mobile world.

The rise in voice-enabled devices is redefining how we engage at every point of the consumer journey. We’re entering a time where consumers search the web simply with the sound of their voice, so brands will need to find new ways to connect with audiences.

With this, Mastercard introduced a comprehensive sound architecture last year. It complements our iconic interlocking circles and allows us to connect with consumers in new, meaningful ways. Consumers will associate Mastercard with a unique sound whenever and wherever they engage with our brand; from live events and marketing campaigns, to purchase transactions in-store, online and on every connected device.


7. On a final note, what can you tell us about any upcoming projects and initiatives that Mastercard has planned in the near future that can benefit Canadian SMEs?

Small businesses are essential to the economy and Mastercard continues to provide support through numerous ways:

Digital Main Street

Mastercard is a founding partner with TABIA and the City of Toronto on the Digital Main Street (DMS) program. DMS is a first-of-its-kind initiative that helps local businesses adopt digital tools, technologies and services to promote growth in the main street business ecosystem.

Mastercard Start Path

Start Path is Mastercard’s award-winning incubator that enables later-stage start-ups to rapidly scale through unparalleled access to Mastercard’s technology, solutions expertise and partners around the world. The program enables companies to gain access to Mastercard’s global ecosystem and break into new markets through relationships with Mastercard and our customers.

Global Cyber Alliance

In partnership with the Global Cyber Alliance (GCA), Mastercard has created a free online resource that arms small and medium-sized businesses with basic security controls and guidance, including operational tools, how-to materials and best practices.

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