Turning the tables on loyalty

This is a guest post from Spike Jones — Group Director of Engagement at WCG and co-author of the book Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable Word of Mouth Movements. See the original post this is adapted from and more like it on his blog.

Brands talking about loyalty has been happening for decades.

And it’s a frequently visited topic for articles, blog posts, conference sessions, and the like these days. We’ve got loyalty programs. Loyalty membership. Loyalty cards. The list goes on and on. And when you think about, there really haven’t been very many revelations or advancements when it comes to how brands think about loyalty.

Let me take a quick moment to remind you, as I wrote three years ago, that frequency doesn’t necessarily equal loyalty. Take that gas station on the way to work. You go there frequently because it’s convenient and on your route – but are you loyal to that gas station? I doubt it.

But I digress.

By the current state of thinking, brands are asking you to be loyal to them.

They are asking you to join their program or carry their card. They, in essence, are asking you to buy more and buy more often. Sure, you can earn points or miles or free meals, etc., but in a lot of instances, it’s a game.

But what if we changed how we think about loyalty?

What if we turned the tables? What if a brand had to join your loyalty program? So instead of pledging your loyalty to them, they pledged their loyalty to you? So American Airlines could join Spike’s loyalty program. Or Starwood. You get the idea.

So often we ask customers to put skin in the game and do things for us. Maybe it’s time brands did as well?

Just food for thought.


About Spike Jones

Spike Jones is a results-proven communications professional, specializing in digital and offline word of mouth marketing. With more than 15 years of experience, the career path goes something like this: Baylor University; a decade at Brains on Fire; SVP of the Customer Experience team at Fleishman-Hillard; Group Director, Engagement at WCG; and now SVP, Managing Director SW Region at Edelman Digital. Spike is also a co-author of the book Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable, Word of Mouth Movements.

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  1. Paul

    Wonderful idea and how would that look? For hotels I can see a reverse pricing, i.e. instead of you telling your preferred hotel that you can get x, when you book with them they send you the lowest rate they can find for your window and document it. Such as hotels, x, y, and z in your city are offering this price, we will honor your reservation at 10% under that.

    Instead of making the customer do the cost comparison and asking for a price match, your loyal service provider should be doing that for you.

  2. Spike Jones

    I like that angle, Paul. I don’t have it all figured out, but maybe it’s something like individuals registering at a site to start their own loyalty program and then brands come and join it. I think discounts are nice – and something that most customers are looking for on social channels – but maybe pair it with insights, knowledge sharing, R&D input, etc.

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