A dim signal amidst the noise

We’ve all been taught that successful brands need a unique value proposition and that we must craft a distinctive positioning. And certainly most organizations spend a lot of time honing their business models and churning out sales programs and marketing campaigns designed to one-up the competition and compel the customer to choose us.

But what if hardly anyone is listening? What if only a fraction of our efforts command any sort of attention? What if despite all our strategizing, designing, testing and refining most of what we put out there evaporates in the ether like so much steam from our morning coffee?

Unfortunately, for most of us, there is no what if? There is only what is.

Consumer choices are expanding, sometimes literally exponentially. Competition is only getting greater. The information available to the average person is overwhelming. The distracted, multi-tasking consumer is the norm. We all face a tsunami of stuff.

And, more and more, much of what we do is only a dim signal amidst the noise.


Many companies confronted with this emerging reality respond by throwing more and more out there to see what sticks. Batch, blast and hope email strategies. Greater promotions and discounts. New or revamped–but still largely undifferentiated–loyalty programs. Vague investments in “building the brand.”

Prepare to be disappointed.

If you want to boost your signal you’ll need to do a better job of customer selection. You’ll have to deploy a unified “one brand, many channels” customer experience. You’ll need to learn how to treat different customers differently.

And everything you do must be amplified by being more relevant and more remarkable than whatever commands your customer’s attention.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your coffee.

Building Luxury Loyalty – Ditching the One-Size-Fits-All Strategy

I recently became Colloquy’s luxury retailing contributing editor.

As you may know, Colloquy is the go-to resource for loyalty intelligence with a publishing, education and research practice that brings together more than 50,000 loyalty practitioners from around the world. Colloquy is a division of Loyalty One.

Check out my first column by clicking on: Building Luxury Loyalty – Ditching the One-Size-Fits-All Strategy.


Inertial loyalty

True customer loyalty–as Bryan Pearson points out in his new book The Loyalty Leap–is a function of two dynamics: behavioral loyalty and emotional loyalty.

Behavioral loyalty relates to metrics like share of wallet, RFM score, duration as a customer and the like. Sometimes behaviorally loyal customers are very unlikely to switch. Other times, eh, not so much.

If you had the data you might conclude that I’m pretty loyal to my family doctor, my bank, my cell phone service provider and my most frequently used credit card because they all have a high share of my respective category spending and I’ve been with them a long time. But most of my perceived loyalty is, quite frankly, based upon inertia.

In fact, I have very little emotional loyalty to any of them; each meets my needs just well enough to retain me.  Because I’m busy, because I perceive it’s a big hassle to switch and because it’s not clear that my alternatives are demonstrably superior, I don’t make much effort to explore my options. Of course, if they were to take the time to collect Net Promoter Score (or similar) type data on me, they would realize that my business is fragile, they could understand precisely why that is the case and, most importantly, they could take action to build true loyalty (and perhaps build positive word of mouth while they were at it).

It’s not hard to imagine two potential scenarios that might effect a more immediate defection.

The first is that they screw up badly. When a brand builds emotional loyalty, they get the benefit of the doubt when the inevitable mistake occurs. My quartet of so-so providers won’t get the same pass.

The second is when a new alternative emerges that sufficiently tilts the value equation. Inertial loyalty is no longer tolerated when someone makes it easy and/or powerfully better to switch.

Blackberry looked pretty solid until the Iphone and Android came along.

Blockbuster had pretty compelling market share until NetFlix and Redbox emerged.

And so on.

If you are living off of inertial loyalty you might be in for a rude–and scarily fast–awakening.