relationship marketing

Where loyalty becomes a part of corporate DNA

Branding Insights
One of a series by John Paulo Cardoso, Spyder Works Chief Creative Officer & Founder


Are points and travel miles cards the best way to spur customer loyalty? Or is there a better way by embedding a loyalty program in operations? Shoppers Drug Mart is about to find out. It has launched a new Shoppers Drug Mart Everyday App to build a stickier user community from its customer base. The app invites shoppers to gain real value by displaying online coupons at checkout, refilling prescriptions anytime, and creating a shopping list that customers can carry with them on their phone based on offers available at their preferred location.

To me, this is a different kind of loyalty program. Instead of being driven by collecting points or special promotions, Shoppers Drug Mart is building a trusted relationship with customers by designing programs intended to give customers ‘the most personalized health care experience possible.’ A well designed app can be a valuable extension of your brand at a time when in-store promotions and service offerings can be accessed on demand by anyone with a smartphone.

What’s more personal than that?

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You Can’t Counter Culture

Innovation Insights
One of a series by Ken Tencer, Spyder Works CEO


Have we seen the death of the Twinkie? If urban legend is correct, they can survive just about anything … except, maybe, a change in consumer culture.

Hostess Brands built its success around the development of sweet, indulgent snack foods, from its original chocolate cupcakes to the cream-filled shortcake Twinkie. James Dewar, who invented Twinkie in 1930, called them “the cream puff of the proletariat.” But something has changed. The proletariat began to realize that they wanted to live longer, healthier lives… fighting the sweeping epidemic of obesity, not dying from it.

Contrast Hostess with Pepsico, whose CEO has announced her objective to generate 50% of company revenue from healthful food. Pepsico embraced the new wave of health-conscious thinking and made it a corporate crusade. They have diversified into snacks and drinks that support today’s active lifestyles, through Gatorade, Quaker, Aquafina and more.

With Hostess’s parent company filing for bankruptcy protection in January, the respective failure and success of these two companies couldn’t be more dramatic. But it hinged on one minor difference. Pepsico looked and listened and recognized that while change is all around us, one thing doesn’t change: The customers know best. Don’t ignore what they’re telling you.

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Add to Your Network: 5 Best Business Contacts

by Independent journalist and editorial consultant, Elaine Pofeldt. Originally published on The American Express Open Forum on February, 1, 2012.

business-networkingEven if your marketing budget is  tight, there’s plenty you can do to build your business. Networking is one of the most cost-effective ways to win new business. Often, it won’t cost you a dime, but to reap the rewards, you have to weave it into your daily business activities.

Here are five types of contacts to make in the coming months.

1. Smart people in other industries

People in other industries can alert you to best practices that you can bring to your own arena.

“It’s about exchanging information,” says Ken Tencer, CEO of Spyder Works, a branding and innovation firm in Toronto and New York. He is co-author of The 90% Rule, which looks at how to evaluate and effectively act on business opportunities.

How do you find the right people to add to your brain trust? Ask yourself who to exchange information with that would benefit yourself and your business, says Tencer. Don’t know many professionals outside of your field? Join a high-level networking group, such as Vistage, that puts you in the same room with CEOs from unrelated industries.

“It really opens your mind,” Tencer says. “It gives you feedback on what you could be doing differently, by learning from best practices in other areas.”

2. Amplifiers

To spread your company’s message, get to know like-minded industry thought leaders, journalists and social media users with a significant following. These people will help you reach their audiences, says Tencer.

You don’t have to meet such contacts face-to-face to build a strong working relationship. One good way to meet amplifiers, says Tencer, is by offering useful information based on your professional knowledge. Post to social networks such as LinkedIn.

3. New prospects in growing industries

A good 44 percent of small business owners expect economic volatility to make it harder to reach their business goals for 2012, according to the Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute.

You may lose some sales to clients who are in bad financial shape in today’s economy, but you can compensate. Add new customers who are in thriving industries.

It’s not likely to happen by accident.

“If you want to be in health care, make it a point to do some homework,” says Andrea Nierenberg, author of Nonstop Networking. She is president of The Nierenberg Group, an executive training, recruiting and consulting firm in New York.

Identify key players in the market you want to reach, and make a plan for contacting them, perhaps through a site like LinkedIn or with introductions from professional contacts.

4. Savvy suppliers

When you buy products and services, take the time to ask your suppliers about what they’re seeing in the marketplace. Consider inviting one or two to your office this year to make a brief presentation.

“They can definitely tell you about trends they have seen in your industry and in parallel industries,” says Tencer. Suppliers who do business internationally can offer a particularly comprehensive perspective.

5. Friends of friends

Forget the old taboo against mixing business with pleasure. Your social circle, from lunch mates at the office to high school friends, can be a great source of referrals. This works as long as they are familiar enough with the quality of your work to recommend you confidently to their contacts.

How do you foster unsought referrals? Be a recurring source of help to others in your personal, professional and volunteer networks. When you pass along a job lead or make introductions to a potential client, says Nierenberg, others will naturally want to reciprocate.

If you’ve lost touch with a friend, Nierenberg suggests that you set up a Google alert with that person’s name. News clippings and blog posts that pop up may give you conversation starters to use in an e-mail. Of course, if a buddy makes a valuable connection, you’ll want to take them to lunch or send a small gift.

“The better the relationships you have with people, the more likely they are to make introductions for you,” says Nierenberg.

Elaine Pofeldt is an independent journalist specializing in entrepreneurship. Her work has appeared in, BNET, Crain’s New York Business, CBS Moneywatch, Good Housekeeping, Inc., Working Mother and many other publications. A former senior editor of Fortune Small Business magazine and editor of its website, she does editorial consulting for online and print publications.

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