Great advertising is tricky work, and advertising for loyalty programs brings its own set of challenges and opportunities. In a traditional ad campaign, the end prize for the customer is the value they will receive from the good or service being advertised. However, given that a loyalty program is essentially a marketing platform in and of itself, it can be difficult to create marketing communications that connect the dots from the customer all the way to that final value proposition. In the last article in this series, I talked about communicating the rewards themselves – and this is usually the most obvious way to leverage loyalty advertising and stimulate membership growth. But great loyalty programs today need to look beyond rewards and craft an overarching value ecosystem, where equity is built at every brand touchpoint or interaction. One way of accomplishing this through advertising is to treat marketing communications as an organic conversation…and brands should be constantly asking themselves questions like “How can we spend a day in the lives of our customers? How would we talk with them if we could, and what would we say?” Let’s take a look at some strategies that might provide some answers:
Let The Customer Do The Talking
Sometimes the best way to access the lives of your members is to let the members themselves guide the way. Loyalty programs that are truly successful instill positive emotions rooted in self-actualization and esteem (Maslow’s Hierarchy 101, students!). The big payoff comes when members are actually excited to share the program with others. However, this does not mean the brand can delegate all the work to the customer – the challenge becomes to control what the customer is saying, in a way that keeps them engaged enough to say it.
Case Study: Titleist Hole-In-One Club
While not a full-scale loyalty program, the Titleist Hole-In-One Club is an ongoing brand facet that allows members to relive the special feeling of scoring an ace on the links, and encourages them to communicate it with others. The idea is that these positive emotions will get associated with the Titleist brand; once you register your hole-in-one, members of the club can share their story on social media, and receive a custom bag-tag…boldly emblazoned with the Titleist logo, of course.
Social Media: It’s Not About You
The principle behind social media marketing isn’t a profound one, but the results can be undeniably lucrative: a majority of demographics (older demographics included, in growing numbers every month) feel most comfortable on social platforms, allowing brands to maintain organic conversations that translate value to customers. But before a loyalty program is able to effectively leverage social media as a marketing communications tool, they need to lock in an advertising strategy that revolves around the customer, not the brand. Treating social media like an advertising message board or megaphone can create negative sentiment, and do more harm than good in the long run. Instead, treat it like an extension of your loyalty value chain, a place where consumers can enjoy themselves as they interact with critical touchpoints:
- Create engaging content and media that can cut through the clutter and get people talking
- Be transparent about any company news
- Don’t try and “sell” customers on social – it should be about engagement, first and foremost
- Leverage social to support customer service: companies with the best social customer care experience 92% customer retention.
Billboards, posters, bus stops, even guerilla; these advertising techniques seek to draw awareness and cut through the clutter of competition as potential customers go about their daily lives and routines. For loyalty, the challenge is to understand which customers to attract, and how to speak to them – essentially, tuning messaging with the right blend of creative, tone and voice, and location. Because out-of-home has the potential to be seen by anyone who passes by, loyalty advertising must intimately understand all aspects of its intended audience in order to successfully reach them.
Case Study: Nando’s
When Nando’s launched their loyalty card, they leveraged out-of-home advertising such as posters to amplify sign-ups.The humorous ads speak directly to the Nando’s demographic: youthful, fun loving millennials. The ads poke fun of all the things you can’t do with a Nando’s loyalty card – like winning in strip poker or swiping it for access to the gym – while reinforcing what Nando’s does well…great food with a great atmosphere. The ads work because Nando’s understands exactly how its audience operates – what behaviors they are undertaking, and what motivates them as customers. Notably, this campaign doesn’t rely on enticing customers with the rewards themselves, but rather taps into deeper psychological motivations that are arguably more inspiring and effective.
Lanndon Lindsay is a reporter for The Wise Marketer.