Are You Really Creating Loyal Customers?

There is lots of marketing talk related to loyalty, customer retention and how to leverage digital media for fantastic results.  But, the reality: most loyalty and traditional frequency programs have dubious payouts. They may trigger initial response and traffic, but most fall woefully short when analyzed against the real overall return against costs.

Instead, what has motivated people to act for hundreds of years, still holds true today. Good ole “word of mouth,” or referral.

And, the best brands have the most effective marketing vehicle ever invented or discovered – their own zealots!  Zealots, as defined in marketing terms, are passionate followers or customers who identify with the brand personally.

Harvard Business Review in a compilation of research determined the number one indicator of long-term brand profitability was… the likelihood of a company’s customers to recommend their product or service to others.  Referral.

We have entered a new phase that requires us to redefine and revisit how we establish and build loyalty. When we think about what creates loyalty, we tend to think in transactional terms, starting with loyalty programs. For decades now, airlines have locked in passengers with frequent flier programs.  Today, the retailer without a loyalty scheme of some kind is the exception, not the rule.

With the rise of Big Data, such programs are becoming more robust and tailored to consumer wants, needs and motivations. But they inherently offer external rewards that pay us as consumers for our frequency of visit/purchase.  In effect, consumers must first “earn” the reward.  Shouldn’t the opposite be the case – the business earning customer loyalty?

“Zealotry Marketing” is about creating programs that have a primary goal of generating referral.  If referral is the best indicator of long-term profitability, then it makes sense to us to use that as the starting point for creating marketing programs – not merely looking at referral as an indirect outcome.  This has led us to a revolutionary perspective on the classic marketing principles of targeting, what is creative, how social media can be an effective touchpoint.   And, heresy for old-school marketers, the most effective marketing may well come from operations and service delivery.

This is the story of Zealotry Marketing.  Real loyalty begins with a company not just ‘advertising’ rewards, but exceeding consumer expectations.  An approach that can be integrated into any company.  It does require a passion to understand and delight those who love your products.  Zealotry Marketing transforms the traditional loyalty equation.

Insights gleaned and applied:
Referral is the surest long-term measure of brand profitability.
Consumer insights, willingness to exceed expectations and passion for what you deliver is critical to building a zealotry marketing program.
What are you doing to create zealots?  

You are invited to join the conversation by commenting publicly or privately to this article on Twitter @findingZealots.  If you are motivated to do the right thing and inquire about engaging GRM in your business, please respond directly to this email. 

As always, find your zealots and nurture them!