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Putting the fun back into loyalty: rewards programs need some mojo!

This article was also published at marketingmag online

Why are so many loyalty and reward programs just plain dull?

I suspect it‘s because those brands have focussed so hard on what THEY want to get out of the program that they have forgotten about customers!

I once received an offer from a credit card company that required me to undertake the equivalent of a double pike with a twist. Does this sound familiar – “use your card this month, spend more than $500 and then you’ll receive double points when you use the card next month”. Confused - why would you bother?
And it’s worse when you visit some stores. Being incessantly badgered for your Fly Buys or Everyday Rewards card can be a real turn off. Sales staff are clearly being incentivised to ask for the card – how about incentivising them to provide exceptional service! Now that would increase my loyalty!

Humans are social beings – most of us like to interact with others, tell a joke and generally enjoy life. So why do marketers ignore this in their marketing in general and with loyalty efforts in particular?

Personality is a big part of what makes brands live – ANZ ‘s ‘Falcon’ anti fraud campaign of recent times had lots of fun with staff and customers and cut thru in a sea of boring bank ads. Why would they not try and inject some personality into their reward programs as well?

Social media provides a really exciting way to interact and put some fun back. Using Facebook, for instance, can enable your members to share information, tell ‘secrets’ and generally be social with your brand as the backdrop. And that doesn’t take into account the listening post that such an approach provides your business – real time unfiltered customer feedback.

So how can you reignite that loyalty spark?

Show your Personality – does it resonate with your customers? Does it have a fun side? Not sure what it is? If not, uncover it, and make sure you relax a little with your customers. A unique personality and point of view can be a real differentiator – Virgin is an exemplar in that regard.

Treat it like a Game – collecting points, earning credits and climbing tiers is just a big game of snakes and ladders. Properly structured your program should be rewarding your best customers and incentivising others to spend more. So why not treat it like a game? What do you like most when you play games? Laughter, unexpected twists and of course winning! Four Square where, amongst other things, you can be crowned Mayor of your favourite venue is a great example of loyalty as a game.

• Keep it Fresh – Loyalty cards long ago crowded out peoples wallets. Most brands, from the biggest department store to the smallest coffee shop have some form of program. What are you doing to get front of mind and therefore front of wallet? Are your offers relevant and fresh – or is it just another “50%Off VIP event”?

So, what are you doing to have more fun?

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