How to use loyalty (and disloyalty) cards to earn word of mouth

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The loyalty card is a word of mouth tool that’s been around for a while. Almost every grocery store, coffee shop, and gas station you frequent has one. So what could possibly be remarkable about one?

Here are three companies that put a spin on the traditional loyalty card to earn word of mouth:

1. Ask your customers to be disloyal
2. Make a deal more exciting
3. Multiply your word of mouth

1. Ask your customers to be disloyal

Thunderbird Cafe & Tap Room in Austin asked their customers to try something new by giving them a “(Dis)loyalty Card.” With the card, they’re encouraged to try six different coffee shops in the area. And with proof of their purchases from each of these shops, these customers will earn a complimentary drink from Thunderbird. Why this works: People don’t talk about the place they go to all the time. They talk about the new place they just visited. A stunt like this earns each of these coffee shops collective word of mouth.

2. Make a deal more exciting

Some folks think all-you-can-eat pasta at Olive Garden is a pretty good deal. In fact, their $100 Never Ending Pasta Cards that give access to the deal for seven weeks sold out in about an hour. The cards will earn tons of return customers for Olive Garden in those couple of months, but more importantly, it will give customers a great excuse to bring their friends, too. This word of mouth tool hits on a major motivation for spreading the word: exclusivity. The cardholders will be telling everyone about how they’re one of the few people who got their hands on one before they sold out.

3. Multiply your word of mouth

When you buy a kid’s birthday party package at Stardust Bowling, you don’t just get the usual party room, pizza, and soft drinks. You also get a pass for each kid to come back once a month for a year. And since they’re kids, they’re not going bowling alone. That means getting more parents, siblings, and other people through the door too because of one pass. When kids come home from a birthday party, parents inevitably ask, “Did you have fun?” Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of just talking about what a great time they had, they handed their parents a card like this?

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