Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Marriott Makes Me GOLD!

How do you measure loyalty? One good deed at a time.
I've been loyal to Marriott hotels since I started my own business 6 years ago.
Yesterday, that loyalty paid off - big time.

I have been Marriott Elite Silver for a couple of years. You only need to stay 10 nights to get it.
Last year I almost made Gold (50 nights a year) but some smart person at HQ (let's call him J.W.) decided I was close enough AND added up my years of loyalty and made me Gold anyway.

Why is that such a big deal? Two words. Concierge Lounge. I get upgraded to that floor if at all possible (for no charge) but am guaranteed access (with the secret key in the elevator) each time I stay. Adult beverages, shnacks, breakfast, and gorgeous surroundings. Aaahhhhhh.

It's a much better world when you're at that level.

Thank you Mr. Marriott for getting the economics of loyalty.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Green Stamps and Loyalty

I remember licking them. Sheets and sheets of them. And trying to line up their little perforated lines to the lines on the pages. When a book was full it curled from the spit and made a satisfying crackle noise. We kept the full ones in the glove box of the Dodge and waited for the day we had enough of them to go to the store and get that Twister game.

Man, that’s loyalty. I’m talking about S & H Green Stamps. Only certain gas stations and grocery stores in my neighborhood gave “stamps.” And these green things made my mom crazy loyal.

There are two components to creating that kind of loyalty.

1. What does your company want ME to do?
2. What are you going to do for ME if I do it?

In the case of the S & H Green Stamp, you wanted my mom to only shop at Safeway. Every time she did she got Green Stamps.

These things represented buying power in the Green Stamp Store. Since you didn’t KNOW exactly what she wanted, you let her choose with her books of stamps. You gave HER the buying power.

Banks don’t get it. They want all your business so they set up relationship pricing programs that use terms like “aggregate balances”. "In exchange for having an aggregate balance of X dollars - I will waive your money order fee." I’m not kidding.

WOW -- you mean if I MOVE my car loan to your bank, you'll give me a dollar?

But what If I’ll never purchase a money order in my entire life? "Oh, well, we’ll give you a cashier’s check for free too." But..... oh forget it.

United Airlines gets it. They treat me like a queen because I fly over 100,000 miles with them each year. Of course they give me miles, but what I really want is comfort. So I have the option of using those miles for first class upgrades OR free membership in their Red Carpet Club. I also get the priviledge of boarding the plane first, and a secret phone number where people actually answer. They get it. In fact, their frequent flyer program was inspired by the folks at S & H Green Stamps.

On average 20% of your customers give you 80% of your business. What have YOU done for THEM lately?