Introducing a New Column: Real. Life. Loyalty.

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By: Bill Hanifin, CLMP™ |

Posted on October 12, 2019

The Wise Marketer is working to become the leading voice for customer engagement and loyalty marketing. Every day we deliver timely and unbiased news, perspectives, research insights, and educational products to a global audience of customer marketing professionals.

Our mission is threefold:

  1. Support the recognition of customer engagement and loyalty as the most measurable and financially accountable market investment available to business leaders and investors worldwide.
  2. Elevate, inform, and clarify the range and value of the industry’s collective products and services for brand organizations.
  3. Enhance the professionalism of all individuals participating in this industry through education, networking, and collaboration.

While we’re on our way to deliver on this mission, we also want to have a bit of fun. As serious as we can be about dissecting trends in customer loyalty strategy and talking about how blockchain technology and artificial intelligence can transform the industry, we realize that loyalty programs succeed and fail based on down-to-earth interactions that happen every day between customers and brands.

Every one of these interactions creates a story:

  • Some of the stories we keep to ourselves. We might ponder an interaction with a customer service agent or the way an incentive was presented to us in an online shopping cart and just scratch our head, wondering “why did that happen?”, or “how did that happen?”.
  • Other stories make us want to run to our keyboard to post on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter to share with our friends. These stories inspire bloggers and tend to fuel word of mouth brand impressions, referrals, and frame the reviews we drop on online retail sites.

We’re betting that not enough of these stories are shared in such a way that brands can see themselves in the mirror and become more self-aware of how their marketing programs are impacting valued customers on a daily basis. We’re also betting that having this feedback will be valuable to marketing professionals to improve their campaign and program execution.

To top it off, we believe (and this is the fun part) that people (call them customers, maybe consumers, but never “targets” or “cell members”) would relish the opportunity to share their personal stories in forums where brands can read, absorb, and learn to improve their customer loyalty game.

Today, we’re announcing a new column: “Real. Life. Loyalty.” that will highlight human perspectives on brand loyalty. We’ve slotted the column to publish on Saturday, giving you something lighter to read outside of work hours while staying engaged on this customer loyalty adventure.

The staff, partners, and clients of the Wise Marketer will be contributing personal stories from their own interactions with the brands they frequent. We’ll also be soliciting stories from people, wherever and whomever they are. You’ll see us open a forum on select social channels to provide opportunity for anyone to share a brand experience; good, bad or ugly.

For now, if you have a story you would like to share, please email it to submissions@thewisemarketer.com. Let us know if you want attribution or prefer to keep your story anonymous. If it’s true and not too salty, we’ll publish it in Real. Life. Loyalty.

To get us started, here’s my personal story for the day: Personalization or Too Much Information?

A family member was planning a vacation and I thought I’d be a good guy and cash in some Marriott points to secure them a room at a nice resort in Florida. We made reservations at a Marriott Courtyard property in Naples, Florida.

On the day of check-in, my family member asked me if they might be able to enjoy the benefits of my tier status in the Bonvoy (previously Marriott Rewards) program. I wasn’t sure if they could, but said that, at the least, there would be a welcome gift if not a room upgrade.

A few hours later, my family member called to say they were sitting comfortably in their room and that indeed had received a welcome gift consisting of bottled water and some fruit. They mentioned that the bottle had my name printed on the label, then commented “I didn’t know you had so many points”.  Maybe it was at that moment that my family member wondered why they weren’t at the Ritz instead of the Courtyard!

I asked for them to snap a photo of the water bottle and send it to me. To my dismay, my exact enrollment date (day, month, and year) as well as my point balance were printed on the bottle along with my name. From the looks of the label, this might have been done through the efforts of the local property; the wrapper was not up to Marriott brand standards.

The story made me realize the challenges that we face when personalization is a high priority goal, but execution is left to someone who may not understand where the limits of privacy and data protection exist. I knew that this hotel meant well in surprising me with a personalized bottle of water but couldn’t help to smile at the lack of judgment in what data elements to print on that label.

This is Real. Life. Loyalty. This story is mine and you have yours.

Share your stories via submissions@thewisemarketer.com and we'll all benefit. I hope you smile a bit as well.