As long as Loyalty programs have existed, the corporate giants such as airlines, hotels, and departments stores have dominated this space due to the vast resources at their disposal to offer elaborate loyalty rewards, leaving small businesses with outdated solutions such as punch cards offering no more than a free drink after the fifth one purchased.
Well, small business are fighting back by taking advantage of the one thing larger companies continue to struggle with – engaging customers on a personal level. This level of interaction has started a small business trend to devise unique loyalty programs that drive traffic and give them the competitive edge they need to compete with the retail giants.
10% off coupon = Boring loyalty reward
30 seconds to grab as many goodies as you can = Not-so-boring reward
Customers have become numb to the traditional loyalty programs that have done little more than cluttering up your key chain. Surely this routine sounds familiar to you:
Check-out Clerk: “Would you like to sign up for our rewards program?”
Customer: “Eh, whatever… what do I get?”
Check-out Clerk: “Discounts and a chance to win prizes.”
Customer: “Yeah, whatever.”
The challenge for small businesses has been developing a program that will be interactive and lead to the creation of a memorable moment. Examples of such loyalty programs that have succeeded include:
- Providing a tablet that customers can use to check-in at the store for 5 points
- A fist bump for 15 points
- A date with the owner
- A chance to invent a sandwich
- Punching an owner in the stomach after 50 visits
- Arm wrestling the owner for store equity
Some sound odd, and they certainly aren’t always pretty. However, it’s getting back to what the term ‘loyalty’ really signifies – interacting and building relationships with customers that will keep them coming back. Let’s be honest, what’s going to be more memorable – a coupon you receive from using your loyalty card, or punching an owner in the stomach?
If small businesses are going to stand out, then they need to be better than the CVS’s of the world and have got to make it more fun. This unique approach has not only given small businesses the revenue boost they need, but it’s also giving the giants something they now need to consider in their loyalty marketing strategies before they start losing too much ground.