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A question we continue to toy with day in and day out. What creates zealotry? What makes people love brands, be passionately committed to companies, be loyal beyond belief?

Said another way, what are some core actions that cause consumers to be zealots for companies.  Feel free to use your clients and favorite brands to think through this.

One thing that stands out – unexpected rewards.    Earning points in a loyalty program doesn’t provoke much referral talk, but if Apple gives you a brand new computer because they are not solving the problems with your one-year old computer, you share that story. If your Starbucks barista gives you a coffee on the house for no rhyme or reason, surely you’ll be talking to others about your experience. And, if you were flying Southwest Airlines and as you checked in for your flight they casually upgraded you to first class because you looked a little frazzled today I’d aim to guess you’d be bragging to your coach-flying co-workers the next day back at the office.

That being said, two questions:

1. Is your company doing anything in terms of unexpected rewards to win over guests? Are your employees empowered to “do good in the brand?”

2. What other things do you think create Zealotry?

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.

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