Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Is this the formula for loyalty and CRM success?

I just finished the book $100 Start-Up by Chris Guillebeau. It’s a smart, inspiring read and a must for anyone thinking about starting a small business. Guillebeau has pulled together a ton of really interesting examples of start-ups that have made it, many with a minimal upfront investment.

There was one passage that I found especially interesting and it related to success. Through his studies, Guillebeau determined that most successful small companies had a few attributes in common. He then came up with a simple formula to explain it:

Passion & Skill + Usefulness = Success

This got me thinking—there are several areas of business and marketing where this equation could be applied, including most loyalty initiatives. Because while it’s possible to come up with a great idea that’s of value to customers (Usefulness), the same effort and expertise (Passion & Skill) must be put into its execution and promotion for the initiative to be a success.

Here are three loyalty and CRM-related efforts that I believe are hitting on all cylinders, providing a valuable resource for customers, while backed by the passion and skill that lead to a successful outcome.

1. Push a button, get a pizza. In a recent issue of Trendwatchinga customer loyalty initiative from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates caught my eye. It’s for a standalone pizza shop called Red Tomato Pizza, and they’ve developed a truly amazing way to increase sales from existing customers.

The pizzeria has a loyalty club and it recently sent all its members a Red Tomato Pizza VIP Fridge magnet. Let me tell you, it’s no ordinary magnet with the pizza shop’s phone number on it. It’s a high-tech gadget that offers the ultimate in convenience, allowing you to About the size of a small box of matches, the magnet is shaped like a pizza box with a “lid” on it. 

Open the lid and there’s a button inside you can “push for hunger”. The device then uses Bluetooth functionality to connect to the Internet—and automatically orders your favorite pizza to be delivered to your registered address. No picking up the phone. No clicking on to the Internet. Just push a button on your fridge. (Check out  the cool demo.)

2. Conquering the fear of flying. Miles, schmiles. The airlines need to come up with new and unique ways to attract and retain customers and I think Virgin Atlantic Airlines in the UK has a brilliant one. It’s a unique effort to capture an underserved part of the flying market—those who fear flying—and turn them into regular Virgin Atlantic customers.

The airline has developed a program called Flying Without Fear, including a comprehensive Web site that claims to be “the Internet’s biggest resource for fearful flyers”. There you can find videos, success stories and support networks for dealing with flying phobia. Live workshops are available and there’s an active online community discussion on overcoming the fear. (Sample passage: “I was able to manage the flight without valium and without tears!”)

For iPhone users, there even a mobile app to assist you, that includes a personal greeting from Sir Richard Branson himself, answers to common questions from a pilot, and an in-flight tutorial that can guide you as to what’s going on during each portion of your flight. The program claims a success rate in excess of 98%, and I’m guessing Virgin Atlantic has attracted a plethora of new and loyal customers because of it.

3. A belly-full of rewards. Belly is a US-based digital loyalty program that allows customers to sign up online and automatically start earning points at over 1,000 small businesses. But what really sets the program apart are its tech-y nature and unique rewards.

Each participating merchant is equipped with an iPad that customers can use to sign in and track their points. No membership cards or key fobs necessary. But for me, the coolest aspect of the program is the fun, seldom monetary, often wacky rewards. For instance, you can: 

  • Earn “cut the line” privileges at several coffee shops and grocers.
  • Get a sandwich named after you at a local deli.
  • Earn a “punch the owner in the stomach” reward (!?) at a comic book shop.
  • Get a 10-minute “all you can eat” pass at famed Chicago sausage shop Devil Dawgs.
How about you—have you noticed any new loyalty or CRM initiatives of late with the passion, skill and usability to be a success?

This post by writer and creative director Tom Rapsas originally appeared on Loyalty Truth.