Will Your Customers Go to Bat for You?

What’s the one thing loyalty marketers want most? OK, sure, repeat purchases. But what drives those repeat purchases? Passion.

You may get repeat purchases from behaviorally loyal customers, but they’ll switch at any better opportunity. It’s the truly passionate customers who stick around despite price differential, level of convenience, etc. It’s the person who drives a mile out of her way and past Dunkin’ Donuts to go to Starbucks every morning.

I was reminded of the power and value of these customers yesterday as DMN Senior Editor Al Urbanski talked about “his” team—MLB’s Boston Red Sox—winning the World Series. He talked about the plays “they” made. He wasn’t alone; reading friends’ comments on Facebook about the game revealed the same sentiment. 

No, this is nothing new. But it amazes me every time I hear sports fans talk about their favorite team as if they’re actually on the team, too. That’s passion. That’s the loyalty that keeps raving fans coming to games or buying team gear even when their team is in the basement.

That, my friends, is the passion that all loyalty marketers crave for their brands. 

You may think that only sports teams, entertainers, and maybe cars and motorcycles, can achieve that deep level of passion and commitment. I’ll have to disagree. You don’t need to tattoo a logo on your arm (like Harley-Davidson fans do) to be passionate about a brand. Consider: There are customer who are enthusiasts of just about product type you can image. Tropicana orange juice has more than a million Facebook likes; Tide, more than 3 million.

I’m a crazy passionate fan of Shout laundry spray and Dawn dishwashing liquid. So much so that when I moved to London for a year I brought enough of each to last the whole time, in case it wasn’t sold there. Actually, I brought so much that I had enough to bring back with me and last about three months. You may think I’m odd (you wouldn’t be alone), but the marketers of those brands think I’m golden.

The other day I heard someone say that, in the case of retail, instead of trying to get an impassioned Coca-Cola drinker to switch to Pepsi (uh, not gonna happen), it’s better to try to get them to buy more Coke, or other Coke products. CVS and Target could give me 70% off coupons for competitors of Shout and Dawn and I’d just toss them in the trash. Truly. However, if they gave me no coupon, just information about a new type of Dawn, say a different fragrance or strength, I’m likely to try it and purchase it there instead of at my local grocery store.

Building passion among customers starts with amazing products and compelling stories, delivering on the brand promise and creating what Seth Godin refers to as a tribe. That’s the home run. Tapping into customers’ passion is where marketers can step up to the plate and hit a grand slam.

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