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Twitter Redefines #Loyalty

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Twitter Redefines #Loyalty
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Speak the word Loyalty and you get a range of predictable reactions. If you’re at any number of marketing conferences, the word association game leads to responses of “points”, “miles”, or “discounts”. If you mention loyalty to your friends on the golf course, the reactions range from conversation about one’s dog to “those crummy punch cards” that have been stashed away in a drawer at home.

Because the “L” word evokes such biased responses, thought leaders in our industry have worked hard to redefine the game we are playing. Formal descriptions of “data driven marketing strategy designed to change customer purchase behavior on a sustainable basis” are accurate, though not inspiring. Over the past several years, I’ve move towards Customer Strategy as a broader term that speaks to the need for any company to address the needs of its customer base in a systematic and measurable manner.

My preferred tagline is to say that “everyone needs a customer strategy, but not everyone needs a loyalty program”.

That’s just me, and I have several colleagues who have chosen different paths, either sticking with Loyalty as the descriptor to keep it simple or who have taken up a seat under the big tent of CRM or Customer Management to describe our business.

Then came Twitter. My early web sherpa, The Dude Dean, taught me how to use hashtags effectively among other little pearls of wisdom to create “Google juice”. To create a conversation about our corner of the direct marketing world, it seemed common sense to use #Loyalty after each tweet. Searching on the term a few months ago, I discovered it was time for a change.

#Loyalty denoted a stream of passionate epithets that looked like a painfully assembled chat room for people looking for dating advice. I consulted with other loyalty marketers active in social media and we agreed to use #Lmktg as a way to separate business from personal “loyalty” matters. Thanks to Barry Kirk for his leadership in this effort.

Occasionally though, I check in with the old term to see if anything has changed. Today the #Loyalty Twitter stream offered these bursts of passion for our consumption:

#LOYALTY is the key to a successful friendship or any relationship

show me #Honesty …. ill show u Loyalty

#Loyalty is non existent these days

#Loyalty is so rare these days

Finally I was able to find one Tweet that hit closer to a business related take on Loyalty:

#Loyalty is not about some card an airline gives you for miles. Loyalty is wanting to do business with you, not having to

Reading the comments in the stream, I realized that what these people were talking about is indicative of why its so hard for brands to create long term value with customers. Business has to behave sincerely, as it if really wants to build a relationship, not just manipulate the customer into some form of behavior that is more beneficial to brand than human being.

There are lessons to be learned, even in the Twitter stream. All business owners and managers should revisit the purpose behind his/her marketing efforts. If it is to treat the customer as they wish to be treated, to offer tangible value for repeat purchase, to treat customer data collected like the gold that it is, and to provide customer service to match, then the foundation for success is in place.

If anything less than this, a shift in focus is heartily recommended. Why? Because as the last Tweet of note today said:

The moment you find #loyalty is the moment you’ve found everything!!!

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