Let’s look at Webster’s definition of loyalty:
loy·al or loy·al·ty
1.Giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person or institution
Given that definition, who wouldn’t want their relationships to have an element of loyalty? Loyal family members are always there for you. Loyal friends always have your back. And loyal companies go the extra mile to make you happy. Loyalty is a desirable trait after all…
Should then the practice of “loyalty marketing” just make opportunities for loyalty more visible? So that individuals and companies could find like-minded counterparts and exchange something of value to each? Yet as marketers we learn a very different definition of loyalty marketing:
noun /ˈloiəltē/ /ˈmärkitiNG/
1. An approach to marketing, based on strategic management, in which a company focuses on growing and retaining existing customers through incentives.
A more contemporary definition of loyalty marketing should include the Voice of the Consumer – a perspective that starts with those products, services and relationships offering value to the target audience. Communication of that value is then personalized to the individual and consistent/integrated across all media. Activity that results is measurable and predictable over time and brand or product goodwill grows the customer base organically, creating incremental sales.
I am committed to helping companies and brands identify loyalty marketing opportunities from the perspective of their consumers. This implies a much more personal relationship than was needed years ago when I was selling ad space in high school and college. Graduate school introduced me two things: media synergy – or multiple media working together for a cumulative effect – and the Internet. Both of which I took to my first job building a Web team responsible for ecommerce and online marketing for InstallShield Software (now Flexera), the industry leader in software installation tools for developers targeting the Windows platform. My web bubble burst with team restructuring and layoffs, proving to be both character- and resume-building, prompting a move to the wine and spirits industry.
Paterno Wine & Spirits and Terlato Wines International are importers and producers of more 90+ rated wines than any company in the world. Winemakers are some of the most passionate and creative types I’ve ever met, truly blending art and science in the bottle. I worked for two years in the IT department on projects to help streamline processes, reduce unnecessary spend and introduce enterprise systems. I then transitioned to marketing where I interfaced with most of the wineries in the owned and distributed portfolio on projects like website design, point-of-sale integration, wine club membership, ecommerce and email promotion.
I joined Jim Beam Brands (now Beam Suntory) in 2003 where I was fortunate to work with some of the best agencies to introduce loyalty programs that connected millions of global fans with their favorite wine & spirits brands both online and off. Incredible the amount of money spend during the early 2000’s on direct mail campaigns for wine & spirits – now seen as very inefficient spend in most cases given the ease and immediacy of digital delivery. We connected ecommerce platforms to online gift stores that extended brand pride/possession well-beyond the limitations of physically visiting the distillery outside of Bardstown, KY, for example.
Taking a similar approach to retail I extended brand relationships to a global community of sales associates, simplifying the selling message for Oakley, a leading sports fashion brand and a division of the $6B Luxottica Group (NYSE: LUX). Our team of four created a training website called OMatter using the Absorb LMS platform for marketing events and video content in eight languages. That platform produced over $1M in ecommerce sales from retail sales associates incentivized to learn about Oakley products, managed by a cross-functional team of administrators trained to support the program in-market. The sales organization was heavily involved in the success of the program, serving as the front line ambassador for all our efforts and often the voice of reason concerning features and incentives that would be of value to the sales associates globally.
I am excited to see where my path with lead next. Would you like to discuss loyalty from the perspective of your consumer?