Turning the Tables on Loyalty

Loyalty-CardsBrands 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.


  • December 13, 2012

    Damion White

    Holy cow! This idea is exactly how I’m coming to shape my perceptions and goals as a communicator. What really stands out is, how – by way of new media, digital outlets, and the like – the power of our ever increasing interconnectedness has brought brands down from the mountain top to walk among us. However, in brands desiring such close proximity and essentially perpetual access/touch-points they must also desire to behave as the rest of us behave in order to be viewed as trustworthy and deserving of our friendship. Very basic stuff at-a-glance, but for whatever reason it seems to escape a significant number of decision makers responsible for bringing these brands to life in the realm of the living. GREAT post! Thoroughly enjoyed reading it and, if it means anything to you, I’m spinning my wheels on how to implement a loyalty customer (vs. customer loyalty) program in my world.

  • December 13, 2012

    Mark Henson

    I’d just be happy if they’d stop asking me to join theirs.

    Beyond that, though, I love your idea. In fact, I’m pledging my loyalty to it right now.

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