Eugène Schoen

The Loyalty Marketing Rethink

Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises. Demosthenes

A new year is starting

Happy New Year to all of my readers !

Let us start 2011 by remembering how important engaged customers are for businesses, specially in these times of economic uncertainty but also of great opportunities.

Proper engagement leads to customer participation, lasting relationships and affect brand affinity and customer loyalty. Unfortunately, these results cannot be obtained only by one-shot special promotions or loyalty programs. Proper engagement is the result of a more global Loyalty Building Strategy that focuses on improving continually the consumer experience at every customer touchpoint, online as well as in the real world.

Will 2011 be the Year of Customer Loyalty ?

The Loyalty Marketers Association predicted recently that 2011 will be the Year of Customer Loyalty.

Considering the increasing concern of managers I got to meet in November and December, the resolution to rebuild customer loyalty is becoming a priority for many businesses. In combination to the fantastic engagement potential of social media, this year could very well be a turning point in Customer Loyalty.

Promising is not enough any more

Engaging the rising mobile social consumer will certainly be one of the major challenges for some big brands in 2011.

As we discovered throughout some of my recent posts, a new generation is rising out of 2010’s social media revolution. Highly influenced by the digital natives, the mobile social consumers get their information via social media,  like to engage conversations with their favourite brands from which they expect reactivity, relevancy and value (service, usability, rewards …)

As Wired quotes in their very interesting article “How your networks are driving what you buy” to engage these consumers, businesses are increasingly turning products into conversation opportunities and launching innovative Social Commerce models as seen on Levi’s ad.

I’d like to thank all of my loyal readers for their comments on my blog and on Twitter. I really look forward to post even more articles on Loyalty and New Media in 2011 to see how social media, storytelling fit to make even more inspiring consumer experiences and engaged customers.

Interested in Loyalty Building & New Media trends & opportunities ? Don’t hesitate to join my group on LinkedIn for more content on these subjects in english & french.

Going for Epic Tourism

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Lao Tzu

Time for Tourism to engage

Destination promotion is changing at a very fast pace.

A new post-crisis consumer is appearing along the Millennials with new expectations and new consuming habits. On the crowded and very competitive global marketplace, loyalty building in the tourism sector has never been so challenging and important. As the Loyalty Marketers Association mentioned it in a recent 4Hoteliers post, engaging customers will be the top priority of many destinations and tourism promotion organizations in 2011.

Going for Epic Consumer Experience

How can destinations engage in this changing Word of Mouth (WOM) world ?

Delivering epic consumer experiences based on the best products & services and effective online promotion taking advantage of the latest information technology.

Providing the right content on demand is a good first step. Just consider MySwitzerland‘s recent successful Snow Report app. This awesome app gives for every Swiss ski resort the snow conditions and weather.

In this WOM world building an online community for a destination is crucial to communicate with its increasing number of connected fans. Crans-Montana, a famous Swiss ski and golfing resort in Valais, is particularly active this winter promoting its Facebook & Twitter communities with a comics-based storytelling & QR-code campaign in lifts.

Another very innovative way to engage customers is by playgrounding your destination, the way Vail Resort does it with its new Mountain Location Game EpicMix that promotes consumer participation by using social media and location based services to make an epic experience people can share with friends.

This engagement strategy is even more interesting if you consider that you can apply the same principles to all sorts of touristic activities and turn a destination into a giant playground. Conscious of this potential, brands like Nokia & Burton Snowboards are preparing similar services.

Don’t forget the Loyalty Building basics:

Matching product – service quality with customer expectations !

These three examples just show some of the many innovative possibilities available to promote destinations. Two elements are nevertheless crucial to the success of any action:

  • Post-crisis customers are looking for relevancy and meaning. Specially important also for the Millennial Generation, destinations must show social responsibility for the  global sustainability and other coming challenges.
  • Critical & connected customers are also looking for the real life quality and value they were promised online. Destinations and hospitality businesses must pay particular attention to ensure te best quality as new consumers have the means (Twitter , TripAdvisor, …) to report with great ease & speed to their related communities any “failed” experience. This stresses the increasingly important role of destinations community managers that must stay in touch and react.

For many destinations in Switzerland, Europe and America the journey has already begun although launching an app or managing a fan page on Facebook is just not enough. An integrated professional approach at every customer touchpoint (online and in the real world) is crucial to engage tourism consumers and build loyalty.

Do you have interesting examples you would like to share ? Don’t hesitate to comment. I’d be glad to have your comments !

Inspiring Momentum Y

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act but dream, not only plan but also believe.” Anatole France

Introducing the Ys

Born after 1977-1980, the Millennial Generation Y is set to become very important, arising major management, communication and loyalty building challenges & opportunities in the years to come.

At the top of the consumer influence pyramid, these new managers, employees and customers are already the largest in absolute numbers, as many studies show, with a buying power far more important than that of their parents. Having grown in mode 2.0, the Digital Natives value innovation, plurality, independence and working on projects that make sense to them and their communities. These citizens of the world are particularly aware of the forthcoming global sustainability challenges and are determined to change things.

The next Loyalty Building Challenge

After a very interesting conference held a few weeks ago in the Lake of Geneva Region by Rezonance on the challenges of Generation Y, I realized the future strategic importance for brands and companies to interest and retain this new generation of active, innovation dependent consumers motivated by new experiences and projects.

But how can companies inspire Momentum Y and build loyalty among these regular people doing amazing things ? How can businesses small or big get attention from this multi-tasking, always on the run generation ?

Inspiring Momentum Y to build Loyalty

Answering those questions will certainly require time and a specific study. Nevertheless, a new approach will be quickly necessary to start building loyalty with Millennials.

One of the keys elements of these future strategies will certainly be storytelling or storyplaying as brands like Nike, Vail or Nespresso inspire community momentum by telling stories on different media (online & in the real world) that appeal to a public used to follow information sources Twitter-style. Story based experiences will also have to bring real life value and interactivity.

How do you think businesses and corporations will have to proceed to build loyalty with the Millennials ? I’d be very glad to have your feedbacks and opinions !

Learning from Loyalty Leaders

“Put great things out. And you’ll get great things back.” Robin Sharma

Learning in a changing world

Loyalty Building has always been a major strategical issue for businesses. Retaining customers, making them happy has become even more of a challenge in these challenging post crisis times where companies discover customers driven by new values and motivations (connected, ethics driven, quality seeking, community conscious) .

Understanding how some successful swiss companies with loyal customers motivated them seemed then important to me. Knowing today the key role of customer experience, I was curious to understand how corporate leadership influenced their approach to loyalty.

Learnings from Robin Sharma

Having managed this summer Swiss Marketing’s social media platforms to promote the “Inspire for Excellence” Symposium with Robin Sharma held last Friday on IMD’s Campus in Lausanne, I got the opportunity to participate to this great event and hear what one of the world’s most inspiring leadership experts had to say.

Here are three key learnings for businesses from Robin Sharma’s workshop that apply to Loyalty Building:

  1. To have loyal customers, businesses must show loyalty to them.
  2. To be competitive, companies must focus on what they do best & improve continually
  3. In order to make a difference in the mind of their customers, they must deliver the greatest possible value

Learning from Loyalty Leaders

Some of the most successful swiss companies (Nespresso, with loyal customers in my study apply these key learnings. They express gratitude regularly and show loyalty to their customers in small and big ways. They focus on what they do best and deliver more value than expected. Most of all, theses businesses know why they sell online, produce great coffees and provide outstanding medical services. For those reasons their clients respect them, recommend them and keep coming back.

What is your opinion on the relationship between loyalty & leadership ? Would you like to share a comment ?

Come out and Tweet !

Kites rise highest against the wind – not with it. Winston Churchill

First year on Twitter

One year after my first tweet, one thing is sure: Twitter is special !

Beginning on Twitter takes an open mind, curiosity and the tools to engage with the Twittersphere. To be honest following multiple timelines can be quite challenging, specially when the people you follow live all around the world in different time zones !

But Twitter grows on you with every tweet, every new person you get to follow & know, every relationship you get to build. Messages might be limited to 140 characters but you discover everyday new ways to pass messages, be more creative on followfridays and engage.

Spontaneous interactions & Sharing

Twitter is about spontaneous interactions and sharing. Having covered live on Twitter last year’s Inspire for Excellence Symposium with Stephen MR Covey for the Swiss Marketing Club, I’ll always remember when I started receiving during the conference spontaneous retweet translations of quotes in portuguese and spanish from followers in Brasil and Venezuela !

With this special post I would like to thank all of my followers all around the world for their loyalty as well as my good friend Yann Graf a swiss multimedia project specialist, who introduced me to Twitter one year ago.

Twitter has been so far a very stimulating experience that has helped me to develop awareness on the importance of rebuilding customer loyalty, specially in these challenging times. It has also been a great opportunity to find some new loyal tweetfriends.

Come out and Tweet !

As I explained to a swiss firm in Vevey, during a Twitter Workshop in July, to understand better micro-blogging and Twitter you need to tweet, just as you must get your kite flying in the air to start having fun ! So tweet on !

What do you think about Twitter ? I’d be glad to have your feedbacks !

Blending Loyalty with Location

Location, Location, Location.  – Old Hospitality Management saying

Locate & Engage

Location based services are really hype at the moment. In fact, they are becoming a major social media trend with innovative platforms emerging such as Twitter Places.

What started as urban viral games could well bridge part of the gap between online communities and real people. As Wired Magazine stated it recently in an article, shouting location details to friends is the next logical step for users who bought online, googled and tweeted statuses.

For marketers, user location is the base of 4C communication strategies (content, context, community, connection). Locating users and consumers is a good way to assess their social activities, look for focused audiences and engage them.

Foursquared Loyalty?

Gameplay based actually !

A major challenge today in social media is to empower users / consumers in a fun way to ACT. Services such as Foursquare and Gowalla with their innovative gameplay – motivate users to check-in, win badges and get as many mayorships as they can.

Speaking about Loyalty building & Location, Foursquare’s business model statement comes to mind: “Helping users connect with local business and helping local businesses connect with their best consumers”.

Logically Foursquare launched this spring analytics tools and dashboard to provide local merchants & small businesses with more information about their customers, monitor registered loyal consumer check-ins and reward loyalty accordingly.

Connecting with their best & more loyal consumers will certainly be a major loyalty building challenge for brands and point of sales. So stay tuned for more posts to come on this subject !

What do you think about Location based services such as Foursquare or Gowalla ? Do you think they are creating a new way of communicating ? Do you think they are bridging the gap between online communities and real people ? Let me have your feedbacks !

Spotting Consumer Needs

It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision. Helen Keller

The WOM Effect

In the midst of the Social Media Revolution, there has never been so many platforms to communicate messages and develop dynamically word of mouth (WOM) around projects & causes. As my study and recent seminar showed, a great part of the success of loyalty building campaigns is based on the ability of companies to deliver real value to their customers: promising is not enough anymore.

Needspotting in a new world

The ability to spot consumer needs has always been a key management skill. As companies need to change the ways they engage with increasingly informed and concerned consumers, the needspotting skill is becoming so much more important. Simply because New Media lets companies address directly & individually consumers that react.

Starting with the end in mind

Building strategies with the user in mind is the challenge.

Speaking of this new user-based strategies during a lunch, Yann Graf a good friend and Multimedia Project Manager, mentioned Foodspotting. This social media platform is a visual local guide that lets you find dishes instead of just restaurants. Working as a food Foursquare (with badges), Foodspotting lets users decide what dishes they want to show to their friends.

Although we cannot be certain of the success it’ll have, the thinking behind Foodspotting reflects this new building around the consumer drive that motivates also Location Based services (Foursquare, Gowalla): being closer to the user.

Interested in Loyalty Building & New Media trends & opportunities ? Don’t hesitate to join my group on LinkedIn for more content on these subjects in english & french.

What do you think  about the challenge of spotting needs of the new consumers ? I’d be glad to have your feedback.