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From Passion to Loyalty (A guest post by: Judi Samuels)

While I’m on vacation, I have turned over my site to some smart people to share with you their experience and business expertise!! The first of these posts comes from Judi Samuels!

judiSince 1999, Judi has focused on building relationships between brands and their audiences. From creating compelling destination marketing campaigns; to creating experiential marketing programs launching a gaming console in Canada; to playing an integral role on developing thought leadership for next generation loyalty programs – each role locked in on developing deep, long-lasting engagement. Judi believes that genuine audience engagement and dialogue is key to the development of emotional connections, and that it is through those connections that long term relationships and loyalty are formed. Judi has extensive experiential, social & digital marketing, communications and brand strategy experience working with brands including Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, the Canadian Tourism Commission, Microsoft, MuchMusic and marketing agencies: CIM Ltd. and Maritz Canada Inc. Judi holds an MBA specializing in Hospitality and Tourism from the University of Guelph, is an active member of the Canadian Marketing Association and a professional speaker on Emotional Marketing, Humanizing Business and Social Media. More about Judi and her experiences can be found on her blog: The Lemon Twist

From Passion to Loyalty…

In today’s economy, brands and businesses are reminded of the importance of consumer loyalty. The funny thing is that the notion of consumer loyalty that is being sought by companies is that of our great grandparents…

 

The idea of the local barber or pharmacist being an integral part of the community; these personalities were so ingrained in the culture of small towns that it was easy to do business with them. You trusted them; you believed them and sought out their expertise; and you felt that, by doing business with them, the community in which you lived would benefit from their business being successful.

 

Today, with the rapid adoption of social networks and the highly networked urban, suburban and rural communities worldwide, the notion of small town connections is desperately needed. Consumers around the globe feel a kinship to each other – especially as they’ve redefined the term community to reflect, not only their postal codes, but also their shared interests, values and desires. The challenge, of course, is that over 7 billion residents inhabit the planet, and there truly is no physical way possible that a single entity – whether it is an individual, a brand or a business – can cater to such a large market. Brands scramble every day to scale their relationship-building abilities, but that kind of reach seems unrealistic. The trick is to understand who, of those 7 billion people, truly make up your market. And that is where small businesses and entrepreneurs have the upper hand.

 

The majority of entrepreneurs go into business because they’ve felt a passion for something; they feel like they have a special skill or gift, one they’d like to share (and make a few bucks off of).

 

It goes without saying, of course, that if you sacrifice a stable paycheck to go after your passion, you do need to make money! No one – not even your consumer – debates the very real need for you to make money in order to survive… as a business, and as a person.

This passion, in short, immerses the entrepreneur in a community. He has discovered something he is good at. He has gotten to know the community… not just the city or neighborhood, though that is critically important too, but also the community that shares the passion!

 

Think tennis. The key grand slams are held in Australia, France, England and the United States, yet fans are global. They all cheer, they all love different players and they all come together during the season to share in the celebrations; across continents and time zones.

 

The point is that entrepreneurs know why they are in business. They know who they are trying to help. And, they know what kind of difference they can make. That is the first place where loyalty is born:

 

Know your audience. Intimately!

 

Once you know who you are going to work for, it’s time to start building relationships… or, more importantly, reinforce those relationships you already have. After all, loyalty is truly a two-way street. Loyalty is based on going deep. Think of your own personal relationships. They are not transactional. They are not based on a single moment. They are based on a series of moments, moments that matter and that demonstrate how one person understands the other. As the business owner, it is your job first to show your audience that you understand them, and can deliver uniquely to them.

 

Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Stephen Covey, 1989

 

As I mentioned earlier, no one – not even your consumer – thinks you are in business to not make money. That goes without saying! But, even Henry Ford let us know: “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.” Local economies drive national economies (which, in turn, drive the global economies). With that said, it is imperative for a successful business loyalty endeavor to actually include a clear drive to deliver on business objectives. This leads us to the third step for loyalty development…

 

Connect your objectives to the benefits of your community.

To sum it up: a successful loyalty program for your business… for any business requires the ability to truly and intimately get to know your audience. Why? Because it is through the knowledge of the little details that make your audience tick that you will find the most relevant and valuable loyalty rewards.

 

A successful loyalty program stands on the shoulders of:

  • Functionality. Whatever your product or service promises it can do, it better do!
  • Connectivity. However your product or service connects to what the audience needs and wants, it better make sense!
  • Relevancy: Whatever you are doing to make your consumers come back to you, or evangelize you better be relevant to enhance their experience with you.
  • Longevity: Loyalty – like Rome – was not built in a day. Take time. Be consistent. Be attentive. And make it count!

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