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Rewards programs are simple in theory, reward someone for their behavior with and involvement in your brand and they’ll keep coming back. From a Zealotry Marketing standpoint we’ll put that theory to the test.

Brandweek’s recent article  “Rewards Program Members are Brand Champions” features a new study by Colloquy that has a few important stats to note:

  • Members of rewards programs are 70%  more likely to actively recommend a product, service or brand than the general population
  • 55 % described themselves as brand champions

While positive word-of-mouth and referral are certainly keys to success for a brand from a Zealotry standpoint, there seems to be a disconnect between “Brand Champions” and “Zealots.” With brand champions coming in at an astonishing 55 percent, we are more likely to liken brand champions to “supporters” for the brand, not true Zealots. The postive-impact business difference between “champions” and Zealots is huge, thus finding ways to dig deeper into your Rewards Program membership base to mine out your most zealous fans is one that is well worth the time & effort. And establishing an intimate way to go beyond simply rewarding  – by involving, engaging and nurturing your Zealots – now that has the makings of a true loyalty program.

While it can be said that sports teams of all shapes & sizes have Zealots, fans for their brand, a simple post on Zealotry in sports seemed in order, in light of yesterday’s Super Bowl victory by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Fans who consider themselves members of “Steeler Nation” seem to be some of the most loving of all sports franchises out there, with an unusually high propensity  to travel with the team and a widespread fan base at that – with fan clubs in over 20 states and 4 foreign countries.

As reported by the Baltimore Sun, here are a few more reason we’d consider Steelers fans to be a Zealous bunch.

– They consistently draw higher television ratings in their own market than any other franchise in the NFL. (The 15 highest-rated shows in Pittsburgh in 2008 were Steelers games).

– Steelers Nation shows its strength by traveling in force, kind of like the fan base for a major college program (3 to 1 in fact for this years Super Bowl).

– According to figures compiled from NFLShop.com, they ranked third in merchandise sales behind the Cowboys and New York Giants between April and the end of 2008. They ranked first in the six months after their last Super Bowl win in 2006.

And a nice touch for the coaches & players alike to recognize these fans for being loyal supporters of the team.  With a tough economy ahead, a few smart Zealotry actions should be in place to give back to these fans, to lock them in as supporters, leverage their word-of-mouth, and to solidify ticket sales for next season. The best time to communicate to your Zealots is “often & always” – but especially following a Super Bowl win.

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