You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Zealots’ tag.

goods-60-rewards-pop_5728Earlier this year, Marriott International, Hilton, InterContinental Hotels Group, Starwood and Delta – among others – effectively devalued their customer loyalty programs. They now require more points, and sometimes more cash, in order to obtain a reward room.

As a result, customers have reacted negatively. Surprised?

Consumers view loyalty rewards as ‘bought’ or ‘earned.’ Certainly, not a reward. And, companies are increasingly analyzing the return on such programs and determining the investment is not there. So, they reduce the benefits and their customers become more disenfranchised. Exactly the opposite reaction desired of a ‘reward.’

Zealotry Marketing flips the concept of loyalty. Instead of discounts or rewards following frequent purchases, consider the benefits of engaging the consumer in more collaborative, meaningful and personalized ways that enrich their experience and deepen their understanding of your brand. Examples? Tastings; behind the scenes tours; exclusive seminars/discussions; advance previews; sampling; private communities.

Savvy media types have long understood the value of “advance staging” – of cultivating a smaller, but fervent group to ‘leak news’ and be positive ‘plants in the audience.’

Delight your Zealots in advance, instead of trying to buy their continued loyalty. The investment is less and the return is greater.

Advertisements

I’m always on the look-out for smart brands. Brands that bring something new to the table or brands that do an amazing job engaging their Zealots. When I first stumbled upon Warby Parker I knew they were someone to take note of.

What’s Warby Parker?
HTOWP is a vintage-inspired eyeglass company based in New York City, known for their online sales program. While selling eyeglasses online doesn’t seem like the smartest business model, WP has thought it through. As a potential costumer, you simply pick out 5 of your favorite frames and WP ships them to your home for free. Your instructions? Wear one pair each day so the people who see you the most can give you feedback. Then, pack all 5 frames in the box and mail them back – shipping covered by WP. If you found a pair you like, simply order that frame with your prescription and the glasses will be custom-made for you. Sounds like a pretty pricey product, right? Not at all. Each complete pair of glasses costs $95. Plus, for each pair purchased, one is donated to someone in-need. Talk about making your customers feel good!

Get Social
Warby Parker has a strong social presence – both on and offline. When WP sends your Home Try-On kit, you’re encouraged to share pictures on the Warby Parker Eyewear Facebook Page. So not only can you to get feedback from your friends, but you can get feedback from the WP community as well.

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 2.31.54 PM
For those of you addicted to 140 characters, give WP a Tweet. Even with an average of 3592 Tweets to @WarbyParker each week, they do an amazing job of interacting with their followers. Here’s my friend’s interaction with WP. In fact, it was her posting on Twitter/Facebook that first introduced me to the company. See? Engaging your Zealots truly pays off.

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 2.59.15 PM

WP has also thought about their more traditional customers, making their frames available in 12 showrooms across the US as well as on the traveling Warby Parker Class Trip. Visiting 9 cities over six months, this school bus full of frames is touring the US, with members of the WP team posting pictures of their journey along the way. Simply put, this campaign it’s buzz-worthy and fun.

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 2.46.59 PM
After all this research about Warby Parker, I think it’s about time to get a new pair of glasses. Stay tuned.

Social_Marketing_See_Behind_Curtain_TransparencyConsider five key factors in understanding how to develop marketing that indeed “engages” with your core constituents.

1. Your product, service, or brand should have a standout quality in its class. The days of faking performance or relying on promotional copy to cover an inferior product are long gone. It is fundamental to deliver, even exceed what you offer.

2. Creative should be an innovative element. If the product is not innovative (then see point above). Most products or brands have some element that excites your Zealots. So why would you employ boring creative execution to tell that story? Creative should match the passion of your product.

3. Your Zealots are key. Key to gaining core insights to the passion of your products. Key to how to influence and persuade others. And key to spreading the word (referral).

4. Offer your core target – best customers and your Zealots – a peek behind the curtain. Share your category insights, invite their opinion on product development offerings, give them promotional opportunities in advance, arm them with specific offers to share with their friends. Understand this group is predisposed to loving your brand. They are feverishly looking for confirmation and experiences that allow them to reinforce their selection. And, share with others.

5. Integrate. Yes, a well-overused marketing term. But, it’s true. Establish what your brand is about – what it stands for. Then, line up every detail, every tactic. Does each detail and each touchpoint reinforce the brand or not? The world-class brands think through every detail from personal greeting to in-store signage to packaging to follow-up response. As an example, consider the St. Regis Lifestyle Butler Service.   Among the touches – escorting guests to private artist or museum showings.

We’ve lobbied that organizations should have a Chief Brand Officer, but perhaps the better title would be Chief Integration Officer.

If your business is not doing the above you are missing fundamental steps in maximizing the value of your brand. If you are unsure about some of the points made, well that is good reason to call us.

Much is written about dealing with customers at the front end of a relationship or transaction. Now there is evidence that an open and liberal return policy also has a tangible payback.

Most people have a built-in “radar” to detect how someone feels towards them. Seemingly insignificant words or gestures can have a large impact. For example, with a return policy based on the goal of minimizing fraud, customers will emotionally detect that they are not trusted. Conversely, if the company’s underlying assumption is that customers are honest and fair – and that when they need to return something they have a genuine problem – then their policy will make customers feel cared for and valued.

A research study recently published in the Journal of Marketing reflects the longer-term financial impact of return policies. And it’s not good for those strict policies. Customers who paid for the return of a defective or unwanted items decreased subsequent spending at that retailer by 75 – 100%. On the other hand, retailers who offered free returns to their customers saw subsequent spending by those customers at 158% – 457% of pre-return levels.

Short-term actions have long-term consequences to your Zealots. Zealotry actions should demonstrate ongoing “appreciation” to customers.

Let’s think about typical marketing examples that do just the opposite. Nickel-and-dime charges. Fine print exceptions. Exaggerated promises. In every research group we’ve conducted, participants voice their disdain over such practices. If the goal is building loyalty, ignoring these fundamental issues while spending heavily on so-called loyalty programs is not only wasted dollars, it is counter-productive.

Julie Schlack of Communispace says it well: “True loyalty exists when a company has made its customers feel safe, appreciated and smart. These emotions are the anchors that will keep your customers close whenever the next guy comes along with a better deal.”

Guest Relations Marketing has long advocated a more personal, authentic and cost effective approach to igniting your “Zealots.” Coming in January, we will be launching a program that any company can implement. An authentic alternative to traditional loyalty programs. One that builds loyalty the right way.   Stay tuned for ZealStorm. Get ready to ignite your Zealots in 2013!

Swoozie’s brand colors are pink and orange, but during the month of October they are all pink in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This month, the brand offers its customers the option to purchase a PinkPASS – all proceeds benefiting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation – which also allows the customer to receive 20% off all purchases through the end of the month.

To further help spread awareness for the cause, and to further engage with their core target market in the online community, Swoozie’s hosted a #PINKPASS Twitter chat on October 23rd. The chat included special guest @brokesocialite who recently lost her mother due to a battle with this terrible disease.

The chat lasted one hour and Swoozie’s received participation from strangers, customers, and blogger-friends alike. We hosted the chat in the evening, meeting our core demographic during a time they were generally able to be online and connected. The conversation was heartfelt and authentic, engaging passionate supporters for the cause, while still having a little light-hearted fun with questions like “What is your favorite shade of pink” in the mix.

Through our work with client Swoozie’s, we have created deep-rooted blogger relationships and this paid off as so many of them willingly joined in the conversation and spread the hashtag virally among the online community. What is true in real-life is true online as well; it’s all about the relationships you build and the people you meet along the way. We were thankful to have this group of Zealots to further the engagement for this special online conversation.

In all ….

306 #PINKPASS mentions.
More than 1M impressions.
More than 121K followers reached.

While the chat garnered impressive numbers, the most noteworthy moment of the night was listening to the inspiring story of Kelly Spalding, who lost her mother to breast cancer and is newly diagnosed, herself. We’re proud to support Swoozie’s – and women like Kelly – this October.

A year ago, childhood cancer was a totally foreign subject to me. The disease hadn’t affected my family or friends. It didn’t have a face or a name. It wasn’t real.

Then I met CURE’s Kids.

I began my internship at Guest Relations Marketing in August 2011 and my first project was to read, edit, and upload the stories of the children participating in the September promotion CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time.

Some children were survivors. Some were currently in treatment. Some had lost their battle. The stories were both heartbreaking and inspiring. After researching CURE, I soon realized that childhood cancer is much more common than I ever imagined and that government funding for the disease is almost nonexistent.

Since its inception in 2009, CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time has raised more than $600,000 for critical research aimed at finding cures for childhood cancers. All this was accomplished by simply sharing the stories of children whose lives have been affected by this horrific disease.

CURE’s goal this September is to raise another $250,000. Seems like a daunting task. But as soon as you read the story of a child like Laura, the reason CURE needs our support is crystal clear.

Are you a Zealot for CURE? I certainly am.

Regardless of your political preference, the movie 2016 about Barack Obama’s rise to the Presidency provides a great example of discovering and building brand positioning. Like him or not, Obama is a clear example of understanding and mobilizing “Zealotry support.”  The producers offer a great, real life lesson on how to discover and build a brand with Zealotry following, including: linking the “why” of past behaviors
  • who are the parents (or founders of a company)
  • what was the environment and influences
  • what has been said and written from the leader (or CEO)
  • where is the priorities in money and hiring being placed

Discover the basis behind those questions and you are well on your way to a smartly constructed brand platform.

Reveries tells the story of Ellen Heberer, an American Airlines gate agent. The airline industry is notorious for treating customers as a number, removing people with technology and otherwise commoditizing services. Then there is Ellen.  “You’ll always have status with me,” Ellen recently told a flier who had lost frequent-flier standing, but whom Ellen remembered and rewarded with a better seat in the front of the plane.
Among other customer-centric acts: Ellen knows repeat customers by name; juggles seat assignments to keep families together; provides passes to get customers into the airport club; doesn’t lie about delays; and is straightforward about what can (or cannot) be done.
 

American Airline’s response to the reporter: “It shouldn’t have to be that it only happens with a great agent,” says Maya Leibman, American’s chief information officer.

American Airline’s response to the reporter: “It shouldn’t have to be that it only happens with a great agent,” says Maya Leibman, American’s chief information officer.

Well, no it shouldn’t. But for too many companies, the bean-counters have measured the short-term cost of staffing people and training versus automation, Internet tools, self-service scanners and the like. Marketing has been silent on the long-term impact of such moves. Who is voice of the customer in your company?

Ellen is building Zealots for American Airlines. Technology can also help, but it is almost never a substitute for great personal service.

American Airlines can learn a thing or two from Waffle House. All employees are required to spend at least one day a month in restaurants. The CEO doesn’t want his management to get too far from the roots of serving customers. The financial (and CIOs) of American Airlines should spend a few days in Ellen’s role. They might learn the value and costs of service.

 

CURE Childhood Cancer just announced record donations of $3.1 million received in its just-concluded fiscal year. This represents about a 200% gain in annual giving since they became a client of Guest Relations Marketing in 2007.  This has been accomplished primarily through activating their Zealots through online media and events.

More importantly, this has resulted in tremendous advances in research. We are striving for the ultimate success story – finding ultimate cures for childhood cancers. It is coming!

Word of mouth marketing has existed since the day of the first business. Sharing opinions and experiences has always been a means of success or failure for many companies. If you have an excellent product, people will find out and, as you can imagine, this same principle applies to those products of lesser quality.

In today’s age of social media and instant sharing, companies must utilize these tools to their advantage. Not only can social media allow you to monitor what is being said or share information, it can also be used to activate those that you want to share your message.

Marketing programs should be built from a referral perspective based on those most passionate about your brand. These passionate followers, or Zealots, live the philosophy of word of mouth marketing without even knowing the true power they possess. While tapping into this resource may seem obvious to many, it also shouldn’t be the end of the road for your marketing strategy.

Case and point: a recent promotion that our client CURE Childhood Cancer was involved in: Club Diamond Nation (CDN). Launched as the first virtual baseball and softball academy, CDN provided an opportunity for fans to vote for their favorite player for a chance to win a one-on-one training session. Additionally, CDN would donate $15,000 to the charity selected by the player who received the most votes.

CURE Childhood Cancer was the selected charity of CDN athlete and former Atlanta Braves pitcher, Tom Glavine.  Immediately, we began to promote the contest to followers of CURE Childhood Cancer, via e-blasts, blogs, Twitter and Facebook. With more than 31,000 fans on Facebook and even more on our email and blog lists, we were sure that this would be enough to win. However, after a month of voting we realized that this would not suffice if we really wanted to win the $15,000.

Softball player Jennie Finch was blowing Tom Glavine out of the water when it came to votes and, with a week left, Tom trailed Jennie by more than 1,200 votes.

The major issue? Those who are Zealots for CURE Childhood Cancer are passionate about finding a cure for the disease and as a result did not feel directly passionate about this promotion, as it was very baseball-oriented. This is when we decided to take another approach and activate indirect Zealots of CURE by targeting those who are Zealots of Tom Glavine and the Atlanta Braves.

Through Twitter, CURE Childhood Cancer and Tom Glavine promoted the contest to Braves fans and asked them to vote. Tom began to interact directly with fans and reward those who were spreading the word by retweeting and replying to them directly. As a result, the dialogue exploded in frequency.

In a matter of six days Tom Glavine received more 6,000 votes, 4,500 more than Jennie Finch during that time. Additionally, direct mentions of CURE on Twitter increased 810%, resulting in an increased reach of 1,490%.

By simply asking Braves fans to support their old pitcher, Tom Glavine, CURE Childhood Cancer won the CDN contest and the $15,000.

Yes, word of mouth marketing can serve as a wondrous opportunity for organizations.  Now through social media platforms, companies can not only listen to what people are saying about their brand, but also have an simple and direct way to start the conversation.

Follow us on Twitter

Archives

Advertisements