Tuesday 2¢: This is a Loyalty Card

In this week’s Tuesday 2¢ I get a loyalty card! What? Umm… yeah.. right. But trust me, this is a lesson for marketers and retail…

This morning I had this week’s Tuesday 2¢ post all staged and ready to go, a lovely rant about emotion in B2B buying. Then, buying a coffee at my local train station I was offered a loyalty card, the barista stamped it and then recognizing me from yesterday stamped it again. Now, I’m inspired to write this.

As this is a loyalty card.

Uh huh.. so far, so what? Everybody, every day gets offered them, at every transaction in every coffee shop, gas station and retail store everywhere. Ever. I have one from the big coffee chains, it’s on my desk.

But, bear with me.

It’s a beautiful thing.

It’s a beautiful simple thing.

The transaction is refreshing, if I am loyal and buy coffee, they will mark the card with a stamp and then give me a free coffee. If I am loyal to them, they will reward ME.

I know, I know, you have them too, but it made me think, it’s back to basics, the old school way of doing things and none of the crap that is now associated with “loyalty” these days.

I gave them no data.

They won’t mitigate the marketing  price of a free cup of coffee by emailing me with offers on cakes, appear in my Facebook feed suggesting I buy the same coffee again, I’m not on a mailing list and the only data they have is in the head of the barista who knows I am regular and recognized me from yesterday and there is definitely not an app for that. I buy more coffee, they thank me with a cup of coffee.

This also means there was no friction in giving me the card, no holding up the queue while she asked my details or the need for me to go online and do something (which is why the big chain card is on my desk and not in my wallet).

This simplicity is also why I said “yes” today to this loyalty card, when normally I say no. The barista recognizing that I might be a regular offered it to me, stamped it and we got on with our day. It’s not a data privacy thing with me, in the right circumstances I happily trade anything for points.

I said yes, because it was EASY.

I say no to everyone else because at this point in the transaction I want to get the heck out of the store. At the check-out, I am checking out.

And sure, maybe 1 in 10 cups of coffee being free isn’t a massive incentive, I have no idea how this compares to the big chains. Will I make a point to get to the station earlier to ensure I grab a coffee and get my stamp? I don’t know, but I do know that the transaction is pure, it’s authentic, it is a simple exchange of value.

As you can see the card has all their social tags on it, if I truly get loyal to this brand and want to advocate for them, I could do that, there is a gentle invitation to join their tribe.

It’s like a “hello” and maybe a conversation about the weather at the beginning of a relationship, they don’t need to know my address, my credit card details, my location, my… anything. Just that sometimes I buy a coffee before I get on the train.

It’s a reward for loyalty at its most beautiful, simple, easy and basic best.

And, for retail today, beautiful, simple and easy is what consumers want.

It’s why we shop online rather than deal with today’s retail experience. It’s why we google product details while standing in the store rather than ask the bored, underpaid and undertrained “associate” (or whatever grandiose term they provide).

It’s the same lesson for marketing, to get out of the way of your audience and provide them with what they need and want.

As marketers we shouldn’t take every opportunity to shake down our audience for an email address, a shred of data or try and rush the relationship to a close or a “call to action”.

We should keep it simple, make it easy, start a conversation.

So, yes, to the lovely people of Little Italy coffee, this will be a LOYALTY card.