Tag Archives: loyalty

Black Friday Shows No Loyalty

Black Friday Shows No Loyalty

Marketers love to hold up points-based loyalty programs as proof of their contribution to their company’s financial success through repeat purchase behavior.

But traditional loyalty programs are nothing more than complicated, and expensive to manage, discount programs.

Black Friday is a faux holiday devoted to the religion of discounting.

This begs the question…

Do Black Friday deals do anything to create loyalty of any kind?

The idea behind Black Friday deals is almost as old marketing – the loss leader.

By offering one or more items at a substantial discount, the company and its marketers hope that a larger than normal group of potential customers will flood the shop (physical or virtual) and buy the loss leader (aka Black Friday deal) AND many other items they may (or may not) have been intending to buy.

Whether this is how it plays out in practice is a closely-guarded secret and debatable at best. Complicating the situation is the fact that Black Friday has become a virtual arms race that companies of all shapes and sizes are almost forced to participate in.

This means that nearly every retailer is offering some sort of Black Friday deal today, resulting in consumers:

  1. Best Case — Your existing customers start at your shop (online or virtual) and make a transactional purchase of one of your Black Friday deals (usually unprofitable for the company) and hopefully many other products or services to make your existing customer’s overall purchase profitable, plus they tell their friends and families to shop with you
  2. Worst Case — Your existing customers buy nothing or only your Black Friday deals, tell none of their friends and family, and you spend a lot of money on advertisements to attract non-customers to your shop that only buy your Black Friday deals

One of my marketing professors at London Business School – Mark Ritson – recently published a very funny video on the relationship between marketers and consumers:

Bridging the Gap Between Black Friday Deals and NextGen Loyalty

Marketers have an overly optimistic perspective on customer loyalty and their implementations of customer loyalty programs.

The reality is that very few customers are loyal and much of what we speak of as customer loyalty is no more than repeat transaction behavior.

In my article Next Generation Loyalty – Part One I look at how to excavate sources of NextGen Loyalty using Loyalty Archaeology™.

True loyalty (customer or otherwise) is when someone engages in a behavior that is not in their most obvious best interest because of a higher commitment.

Very few customers will ever behave against their best interests, but engaging in Loyalty Archaeology™ you can better understand where the value comes from in your products & services and work backwards to identify potential sources of customer loyalty.

Continue reading Next Generation Loyalty – Part One here.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Next Generation Loyalty – Part One

Next Generation Loyalty - Part One

Loyalty Archaeology™

Excavating Sources of Next Generation Loyalty

Marketers have an overly optimistic perspective on customer loyalty and their implementations of customer loyalty programs.

The reality is that very few customers are loyal and much of what we speak of as customer loyalty is no more than repeat transaction behavior.

Customer Loyalty Programs Are Really Just Discount Programs

If we are honest as marketers, today’s typical customer loyalty program is no more than an a way of automatically gathering purchase data and distributing discounts. Today’s traditional points-based customer loyalty program is actually just a fancy and often costly discounting program because smart marketers only use discounting to capture sales that would not otherwise have occurred. As soon as you begin distributing discounts to people that would have purchased anyways, then you are cannibalizing your own profit margins.

If you want to dispute that a points-based loyalty program is nothing more than a discounting program, you have to look no further than web sites that quantify the value of points given for airline miles, hotel stays, etc.

So what is customer loyalty?

According to the Oxford Dictionaries, loyalty is a strong feeling of support or allegiance.

In a business sense, most people look at customer loyalty as a measure of how likely a customer is to do repeat business with a company or brand.

But this way of looking at customer loyalty is too easy to “achieve” and is more related to repeat purchase behavior than true loyalty. The definition of loyalty in Oxford Dictionaries is too weak as well.

True loyalty (customer or otherwise) is when someone engages in a behavior that is not in their most obvious best interest because of a higher commitment.

A United States Marine putting himself or herself in harm’s way to recover a wounded comrade from the battlefield is a demonstration of true loyalty.

A customer paying a higher price for an identical product could be a demonstration of loyalty, but could also be an example of brand value or linked to other intangible, often emotional sources of value not directly linked to the product itself (desire to support a company’s social purpose, affinity for cartoon characters used to promote the product, etc.)

A customer paying a lower price for an identical product because you’re giving them a “loyalty program” discount is not a sign of loyalty.

Focusing on the interfaces and experiences related to your products, services and solutions and their surrounding emotional components are more likely to engender loyalty than building a points-based program.

I’m not saying points-based programs are bad, but let’s be clear – they’re not loyalty programs, they’re great for gathering customer purchase data and helping to drive repeat purchase behavior. But, if your competitor offers a better points program you’re likely to lose your supposedly loyal customers.

What does a Next Generation Loyalty program look like?

A Next Generation (aka NextGen) Loyalty program has very little to do with points and promotions, but instead focuses on identifying and leveraging the variables that represent opportunities to create actual loyalty for your brands and their associated products, services and solutions.

Next Generation Loyalty programs can only be created if you understand where the value comes from for each of your products, services and solutions.

Innovation Resonance Venn Diagram

In my popular article “Innovation is All About Value” I highlighted the fact that there are three key value considerations in the pursuit of innovation:

  1. Value Creation is pretty self-explanatory. Your innovation investment must create incremental or completely new value large enough to overcome the switching costs of moving to your new solution from the old solution (including the ‘Do Nothing Solution’). New value can be created by making something more efficient, more effective, possible that wasn’t possible before, or create new psychological or emotional benefits.
  2. Value Access could also be thought of as friction reduction. How easy do you make it for customers and consumers to access the value you’ve created. How well has the product or service been designed to allow people to access the value easily? How easy is it for the solution to be created? How easy is it for people to do business with you?
  3. Value Translation is all about helping people understand the value you’ve created and how it fits into their lives. Value translation is also about understanding where on a continuum between the need for explanation and education that your solution falls. Incremental innovations can usually just be explained to people because they anchor to something they already understand, but radical or disruptive innovations inevitably require some level of education (often far in advance of the launch).

All three are defined in the article on the link above and were created in an innovation context, but there is no reason they couldn’t also be used in a marketing context to identify potential sources of customer loyalty to be leveraged or enhanced.

Another great way to work backwards to identify potential sources of customer loyalty is to leverage A Practical Model for Jobs to be Done (JTBD) from Jim Kalbach. The six components laid out in his graphic below being:

  1. Situation
  2. Motivation
  3. Desired Outcome
  4. Functional Jobs
  5. Emotional Jobs
  6. Social Jobs

Practical Model for Understanding Jobs to be Done from Jim Kalbach

Using Loyalty Archaeology™ to Uncover Sources of NextGen Loyalty

These two simple frameworks give you a great place to start your quest for Next Generation Loyalty. Using Loyalty Archaeology™ to understand potential sources of loyalty will provide the foundation for building a potential program of loyalty enhancements.

You might be sensing that there is no one size fits all when it comes to NextGen Loyalty, and you’d be right.

What insights about the sources of your customers’ loyalty do you think these frameworks can provide?

What other tools do you think would be useful in excavating sources of potential customer loyalty?

In the next article in this series we’ll look at how to take the insights on customer loyalty sources and build a program of initiatives to enhance and accelerate your sources of unique customer loyalty. We’ll also look at how to go beyond points and redemption to leverage different parameters in your program of initiatives to build Next Generation Loyalty!

Image credits: Pixabay, Braden Kelley and Jim Kalbach

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Genius of Rewarding Customers for Eating Other People’s Pizza

Genius of Rewarding Customers for Eating Other People's Pizza

Dominos is riding the creativity train yet again, with their latest creative marketing idea.

Following on the heels of Dominos Hotspots and Dominos Zero Click Ordering, they now have come up with a great idea for getting people to download their app onto their phones and to ultimately order their pizza.

When it comes to ordering pizza, the phone is on its way to being replaced by the app. But which app?

When ordering pizza by phone at least you could still use the same phone, but just dial a different number if you wanted to order a different pizza.

But if you want to order a different pizza using an app you have to download and install and configure a completely different app. NOT as easy switching to a different pizza place when ordering by phone. So, if an app helps to lock people into reordering pizza from you instead of trying the pizza from some other pie place, what do you have to do?

You HAVE to get people to not only download your app and install it, but you’ve got to get them to start using it.

A lot of places try to overcome this inertia by offering a discount on the first order made using the app, but this isn’t always a strong enough incentive.

Domino’s solution to this problem?

What if we rewarded people just for eating pizza, even if it’s not ours?

Sounds crazy, right?

Well, that’s exactly what they’ve done with their latest Points for Pies promotion. Now, if you download the Dominos Pizza app onto your phone AND join their rewards program AND take a picture of any pizza once a week for six weeks using the app you’ll earn enough points to get a free medium two-topping pizza. But, to add a sense of urgency, you must earn your 60 points before the 100 million points run out, which probably works out to about 2-3 million people participating before the points run out.

Supposedly the app uses artificial intelligence to detect pizza in the photo, but I have a sneaking suspicion it will give you points for taking a picture of just about anything. I don’t eat Dominos Pizza, so let me if you can take a picture of anything funny and still get your points. 😉

So, what do you think? Will this promotion drive app downloads, and more importantly, rewards program signups and app usage and pizza purchases?


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People-Centric Marketing

People-Centric MarketingWe live in an increasingly complex world where both the volume of change and the pace of change are accelerating. But it is not just change that is accelerating, choice is proliferating as well.

Witness the example of General Mills’ Cheerios. Introduced in 1941, there are now 13 varieties of Cheerios on the market, not including snack mixes introduced in 2008.

In its 70+ year history, General Mills introduced no variations in the first 35 years; all of the new varieties have been introduced during the second half of Cheerios’ lifespan, with eight of 13 new varieties being introduced in the last decade. The 13 current varieties of Cheerios (with launch dates) according to Wikipedia are:

  1. Cheerios (1941)
  2. Honey Nut Cheerios (1979) (see above)
  3. Apple Cinnamon Cheerios (1988)
  4. MultiGrain Cheerios (Original in the UK) (released 1992, relaunched 2009)
  5. Frosted Cheerios (1995)
  6. Yogurt Burst Cheerios (2005)
  7. Fruity Cheerios (2006) (Cheerios sweetened with fruit juice)
  8. Oat Cluster Crunch Cheerios (2007) (sweetened Cheerios with oat clusters)
  9. Banana Nut Cheerios (2009) (sweetened Cheerios made with banana puree)
  10. Chocolate Cheerios (2010) (Cheerios made with cocoa)
  11. Cinnamon Burst Cheerios (2011) (Cheerios made with cinnamon)
  12. Dulce de Leche Cheerios (2012) (sweetened Cheerios made with caramel)
  13. MultiGrain Peanut Butter Cheerios (2012) (Multigrain Cheerios with sorghum, not wheat, and peanut butter)

We have an overwhelming amount of choice in the supermarket, but we also have an ever growing roster of entertainment options as well:

  • Terrestrial, cable, satellite, and on demand television
  • Internet television (NBC.com, Comcast.com, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus)
  • Television on DVD or DVR
  • Over the air, satellite, and internet radio
  • YouTube, Vimeo, Vine and streaming music
  • Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Google+
  • Console, PC, Tablet, and Smartphone gaming
  • Snapchat and Wechat
  • Live events and recordings of live events
  • and on and on

Advertising is proliferating:

  • TV and radio advertising
  • Out of Home advertising (Billboards, buildings, airplanes, buses, trucks, etc.)
  • Print advertising (Magazines, newspapers, etc.)
  • Movie and TV product placements
  • Movie theater advertising
  • Airborne advertising
  • In game product placements
  • Digital advertising (banners, videos, etc.)
  • Mobile advertising
  • Naming rights (stadiums, etc.)

Marketing is proliferating too:

  • Direct marketing (direct mail, email, telemarketing, etc.)
  • Partner marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization (aka SEO)
  • Search Engine Marketing (aka SEM)
  • Social Media marketing
  • Inbound marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Viral marketing
  • Loyalty and retention marketing
  • Spam
  • and my least favorite (contact form marketing – aka spam)

With this deluge of choice and competition for our attention, people are in fact more annoyed and less affected by advertising and marketing than ever before.

Growing Customers in a Deluge

So in today’s world, how do most effectively cultivate future customers, strengthen the relationship with existing customers, and maintain connections and grow commitment over time?

There is no single answer of course, but effective marketing in today’s world of endless choice and competition for people’s attention requires the appropriate mix of push and pull and recognizes that the ROI from marketing efforts should not all be attributed to the last click but instead is attributed to the overall customer journey and uses technology that allows you to connect together the different customer touchpoints and impressions over time to help you better understand how your holistic revenue generation system is working. Because effective marketing is not about converting leads, but instead about building relationships.

When your marketing efforts focus on building a relationship, trust, and even partnership with your customers, your organization stands to benefit more than by just seeking the quick scale. Even non-customers can be referrers and recommenders, and as companies grow, a single individual can have a customer, partner, and a competitor relationship with the same organization.

Are you living in marketing’s past?

So if marketing today is more about the customer journey, building relationships and even co-creation, then it becomes even more important to build understanding and trust. The power of the story, the power of experience, and the role of content in this new world become increasingly important in capturing and holding people’s attention. You’ll notice that I said people not customers or prospects, and their is an important reason underlying it.

Because of our increasingly interconnected and always on world, where Yelp has grown to become a more powerful engine of influence than neighbors and co-workers, it’s getting harder to tell who is an influencer and must tell a consistent story not just to prospects, but to all people. And in a world where algorithms determine whether you even appear in the places your potential customers trust, having the right content in the right places, at the right time, so that people (not just prospects) can find it at the various stops along the often long, meandering non-customer to prospective customer evolutionary path.

Embracing an expanded marketing focus on non-customers may be hard for some marketers, but others will see the importance of it in growing and maintaining the long-term health of the organization’s sales pipeline and brand equity.

How do you grow new customers?

Well, by growing the level of comfort and trust that people have in your organization and its employees. There are many ways to do this, but they require a strategy that first seeks to understand the typical paths that people take from non-customer to customer. A lot of people talk about trying to loyalize customers, or turning customers into advocates, and while that may sound logical, there is a flaw in that thinking. The flaw is that people can be influencers and advocates for your products and services before they become a customer (or who may never become a customer) if you’re doing a good job with your people-centric marketing.

When you better understand the journeys people take from non-customer to customer you can better understand what parts of the story to tell when and where. And often as you shift from a lead-generation, prospect-driven marketing focus to a people-centric one, you will start to see that in order to build the comfort and the trust and the excitement, that it will be more about barriers than benefits, more about problems than solutions.

As marketers we love to talk about benefits and solutions, but where we really need to focus is problems and barriers. Where is the friction? Where is the confusion? What are the chasms to be crossed? What are the pitfalls to be avoided?

When we start to understand these things, we will start to understand the stories and the content that need to be told and created in order to provide the jet pack to accelerate an individual from one level of comfort, trust, and purchase readiness to the next. The better we grasp what people are seeking to understand in order to evolve their level of comfort and trust, the better we can do at shaping our messages and our strategy to meet people where they are.

Who’s your thought leader?

This is where having a thought leader on staff comes into play, and why you might want to hire one or convert an existing employee or two into one. The job of the thought leader is to be a storyteller, a brand advocate, and ultimately to be the person that builds those bridges across the chasms and guides non-customers along their journey of understanding by demonstrating understanding of the problems, barriers, and pitfalls that non-customers and customers face, and helping to educate them on some of the ways that progress can be made and success created.

There is nothing wrong with trying to lead the thoughts of others. Someone has to lead, or at least to provoke. Just keep your ego at bay and focus on being a discussion leader and a facilitator within the topic area you are focusing on and key in on the transitions that you are trying to encourage. Ultimately what you are doing is growing customers, but there is no set timetable for when a non-customer might become a customer, and we’re not focused on speed as much as we are on acceleration. The closer we can draw non-customers to us, the more likely they are to want to become employees, partners, co-creators, advocates, or even aid in creating post-purchase rationalization instead of buyers remorse.

But the sad part is that most companies don’t recognize the importance of thought leaders, and the unique skillset that some people in understanding the journey and the problems, pitfalls, barriers, chasms, and transitions that matter to non-customers. Most consultancies want their consultants on the road billing every possible hour, and don’t allow anyone to focus on this important area of growing future customers. They dabble, and maybe they publish a white paper here or there that looks just like the white paper their five other competitors just put out, but they don’t commit to any marketing activities that result in immediate lead generation. There are a few consumer product companies that are doing surprisingly well in this area, but the two areas of greatest opportunity probably lie in the business-to-business (B2B) and service industries (consulting, legal services, etc.).

I’ve done a bit of work in these areas helping companies like Innocentive, Planview, Imaginatik, and Crowd Computing create single content input, multiple content output strategies to help evolve their ranks of non-customers along their journey with some informational pieces.

Thought leaders can and should play a large role in your innovation efforts as Evangelists (see my Nine Innovation Roles) and in helping your organization do a better job of value translation and value access (see my article on Innovation is All About Value). As you launch innovations into the marketplace, a people-centric marketing approach can make a huge difference in translating the potential value better for customers and non-customers alike and identifying areas of opportunity for improved value access (based on the thought leaders’ understanding of the non-customer’s journey) that can be communicated within the organization and new value access offerings that complete the core value creation of the innovation.

I hope by now you see the importance of focusing more on people-centric marketing and in understanding non-customers as well (or better) as we currently understand our customers.

But, of course in order to become a thought leader, someone must inevitably find what you have to say worth following.

So identify the thought leaders in your organization, or hire one, and start building your people-centric marketing strategy today!

Image source: bashfoo.com


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Who is in Your Social Media Band?

Who is in Your Social Media Band?It used to be that when you formed a rock band to seek fame and fortune, all you had to do was find a lead singer, a guitarist, a bass player, a drummer, and maybe another guitarist or a keyboard player if you wanted a richer sound. But the digital age presents a level of complexity and opportunity that John, Paul, and Ringo never had to deal with.

If video killed the radio star, or tried to, then YouTube will certainly finish the job.

In the old days (come on, rock music is less than 100 years old), bands played at their local high school, then maybe the local club circuit, recorded a demo and sent off demo tapes, and finally if they were lucky they were ‘discovered’ by a record exec and signed to a record deal.

In the digital age, aspiring rock stars need to consider the social media and marketing skills of potential band mates as much as they scrutinize their skill with a particular musical instrument. In the digital age your skills with YouTube are almost more likely to make you a rock star then your skills with a guitar.

Just look at Pomplamoose – nearly 80 million video views and 340,000 subscribers. They have more YouTube subscribers than mega-stars Coldplay.

If we look at a new song as an invention and at my Innovation is All About Value framework through a music lens, you will quickly see why social media and creativity are so important in the music business and why new singers and bands can seemingly come from nowhere on the Internet.

1. Value Creation

  • A new song (Is the song any good?)

2. Value Access

  • How easy do you make it for people to find this new song, listen to it and buy it?

3. Value Translation

  • Do you do a good job of making people want to add the song to their playlists and to share the song with others? Do you engage them and make the song a part of them?

The power of #3 is magnified on the Internet (both if you do it well or poorly). Just look at the fact that Gotye created an AWESOME song ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ and the video for it has received 600,000 page views, but a little known Canadian band Walk Off The Earth released a YouTube video covering the song and their cover has generated 83 million page views and an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Why?

More passion, and a better, more engaging story (ultimately better value translation that was worth sharing).

So all you teenyboppers out there putting together the next great rock band, beware. In this new digital reality we all live in, you can’t think just about guitar, vocals, bass, drums, and keyboards. You must also think about who in the band you are considering putting together (unless you actually have money to pay someone) will make you look awesome on:

1. YouTube
2. MySpace Music
3. Twitter
4. Facebook
5. Band Web Site
6. Other places (Spotify, iTunes, etc.)

Yes, I said MySpace. The site remains incredibly relevant despite being eclipsed by Facebook thanks to its understanding of how to help bands create valuable pages for fans. Facebook still sucks at this. If I were Google and didn’t want Google+ to die a slow death, I would buy MySpace and incorporate the Music capabilities into Google+. It would make a great pairing with YouTube. They might want to buy Spotify while they are at it to bolster their unfortunately pathetic Google Play offering.

One other interesting contrast to draw between the successful bands spawned by YouTube versus the successful bands spawned by the old guard. YouTube successes tend to be very human and engaging in their approach, while old guard bands tend to be very aloof, distant, and well-packaged.

What kind of musical band and social media band will you be?

Here are the two different ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ videos, starting with the original by Gotye:

Followed by the Walk Off the Earth cover:

Image Credit: Foxhound Studio

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