2011 May: Marketing Matters

“An ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness.” –– Elbert Hubbard

Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to keep coming up with witty marketing angles? How can we attain customer loyalty? It is defined as faithfulness or a devotion to a person, country, group or cause. Businesses seek to become objects of loyalty in order to have their customers return. Brand loyalty is a consumer’s preference for a particular brand and a commitment to repeatedly purchase that brand when faced with other choices. Businesses may also establish loyalty programs, which offer rewards to repeat customers and often allow the business to keep track of their preferences and buying habits.

Author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar stated: “The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty.” Communication is imperative to building a loyal relationship with customers. As in any relationship, we must express our needs and offerings and listen to those of others. One good way to do this is to utilize electronic newsletters (e-newsletters). The e-newsletter will contain an offer addressing WIIFM –– what’s in it for me? –– along with items of local relevance. E-mailing these few concise points of interest to my database shows my concern for common interests and promotes recipients’ awareness of my business and their loyalty to me.

Diana Coutu of Diana’s Gourmet Pizza of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, is an advocate of loyalty programs. Coutu sends out a monthly newsletter, The Pizza Press, which yields an astounding 230 percent ROI. This is done in conjunction with her rewards program. For a rewards program to really build loyalty, it goes beyond handing out discounts and freebies. Coutu’s program gathers information about the special moments in people’s lives such as birthdays and anniversaries and then acknowledges them with relevant offers. Janet Robinson, an American publishing executive, once said that “Repeat business or behavior can be bribed. Loyalty has to be earned.” Coutu earns her customers’ loyalty by associating her business with the lives of her customers. This rewards program shows a whopping 451 percent ROI.

Why wouldn’t it? According to the National Restaurant Association, nearly seven out of 10 adults visit a restaurant on their own or someone else’s birthday, making that, by far, the most popular occasion to dine out by nearly 2 to 1. Numbers don’t lie. The impersonal traditional forms of advertising don’t stand a chance against a personal offer. Aside from celebrations, positive local press also keeps restaurants top-of-mind –– and encourages repeat business. The NRA claims that 52 percent of adults said they are likely to make a restaurant choice based on how much a restaurant supports charitable activities and the local community. What has your business done to support the local community? Easily implemented ideas are to promote a fundraiser or a school night. Choose an organization you and your customers care about (such as breast cancer awareness). Look for opportunities to host an event and get out in the community and be caught doing good. Participating in the Slice of Hope, sponsored by Pizza Today, would be a fantastic start.

I’m helping organize the four-day cycling event that is designed to raise breast cancer research money from pizzerias. It’s definitely a cause that your customers can relate to and get behind (see page 3 for more info). Just bear in mind that loyalty is an essential part of the relationship between a business and the consumer –– nurture it and grasp the benefits.

Scott Anthony is a Fox’s Pizza Den franchisee in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He is a monthly contributor to Pizza Today and a frequent guest speaker at Pizza Expo.