Are You Seeking to be a Loyalty Expert?

Sep 16, 2011


As I travel around to visit clients, I’m always interested to observe the diversity in news coverage by local newspapers and television stations in different markets.

Visit Miami and you’ll see local news broadcasts that more closely resemble Entertainment Tonight than 60 Minutes. Watch the same show in St. Louis and you might feel as if you were transported to a “kinder, gentler” time about 2 decades ago.

On the print side of the world, one of my favorite newspapers is The Globe and Mail, one of two key dailies published in Canada. I always seem to find stories of interest, and the outsider’s view of American business and politics opens my eyes to perspectives I might have otherwise overlooked.

As I sat down to write another esoteric blog post about Loyalty Marketing, I was struck by this quote from Lord Johnny Acton, an Englishman who was written 13 books on a range of subjects from sausage making to hot air ballooning:

“Experts are not the right people to write about subjects because they can’t remember what it was like not to know all the stuff they know now.”

That’s a mouthful, but translated it means to me that we can get lost in our world of expertise, possibly losing sight of how others view our work.

We’ve seen many loyalty programs that looked great on paper but failed in execution. Why? One of the biggest reasons is that the designers failed to put on their consumer hat and think through the proposed program or campaign from the customer point of view.

This risk is firmly mitigated in my quarter by tracking and understanding Customer Experience. We place such importance on Customer Experience at Kobie because we believe that integrating customer loyalty is the outcome of a holistic planning process.

  • Before you land on a value proposition for customers, turn the tables and think about how quickly customers can actually earn rewards (the “earning velocity”) and how valuable their options will be at the point of redemption.
  • If you plan to include employees to communicate program value at the point-of-sale, you had better educate the group on what you’re trying to achieve and why it matters to them. Including an incentive always helps, but in any event, you must have buy-in for successful execution at the store level. The same applies in a franchisee model, where the need to get franchisees on board can many times be a delicate, problematic challenge.
  • Lastly, make sure that the program branding that has been created is part and parcel of the brand’s core message. Leave it to stand alone and you risk adding a layer of noise that could adversely effect the value proposition as customers make purchase decisions.

Strive not to be an “expert” in loyalty marketing, but a person with a keen sense of brand objectives, combined with the humility and self-awareness to examine strategies/tactics from the customer, brand, and employee/franchisee perspectives.

Now that’s quotable! Yes, it’s long, but still quotable.