Loyalty marketers spend the bulk of our time trying to satisfy customers and create real loyalty. The kind of loyalty that goes beyond discounts and deals.
One way to do this is to understand what business you are in. Seems pretty simple, but it’s not. Notice that I didn’t say “industry.” I said “business.”
Let’s begin with a quick story. This is from Mark McCormack’s classic book, What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School (Bantam, 1986).
A guy asked the Chairman of Rolex, Andre Heiniger, “So, how’s the watch business?” Heiniger said, “I have no idea”. The guy said, “What are you talkin’ about? You’re the chairman of Rolex.” Heiniger responded: “Rolex is not in the watch business. Rolex is in the LUXURY business.”
Mr. Heiniger knew that his customers did not buy watches. They bought status.
While most marketers understand this, the problem is that many think it applies to only a select group of brands or industries. In fact, it’s true of every business. Here’s a marketing rule to remember:
What you sell and what you deliver are not the same.
Think about your company. It does not matter whether it’s a service business or a product business. When someone asks you what business you’re in, you tell them what you deliver. You tell them, “I’m a lawyer,” or “We’re in the food business”. And you’re right…in a way. Those are the services and products you deliver. It’s also easily understood by most people.
What you actually sell is something more basic. The truth is that people buy emotions. Now, you may have noticed that the period before this sentence is bolded. That was not a typo. It was for emphasis. So in case that slipped by, let’s try it again.
People buy emotions…PERIOD
Customer loyalty is about continually delivering on the emotional benefit you’re selling. It’s really not much more complicated than that. It’s not easy to pinpoint and it’s definitely not easy to accomplish, but the concept is pretty straightforward.
Look up emotional buying triggers and you will find the same few words over and over in most of the articles: Love, fear, greed, pride, guilt, envy, altruism, vanity. These are all valid and correct. But loyalty is about discriminators for your company, not your category. People buy luxury for an image of success, but why do they choose Rolex?
To really take advantage of emotional marketing, we need to go beyond the triggers and identify the emotional discriminators that your company provides. If you have them, can define them, and continually perform to them, real loyalty is sure to follow.
Beyond price, what do you offer that your competitors cannot match? If your customers buy your category based on altruism, why do they choose you over the many other altruistic choices they have?
Southwest Airlines (SWA) understands their emotional discriminator very well, and that’s the connection between employee and customer that creates the comfort and satisfaction that consistently ranks them near the top of national customer satisfaction polls*. Many people choose SWA time and again because of the emotional connection their employees foster. They simply make flying more enjoyable. So SWA makes employee satisfaction their #1 priority. Their success is reflected in the 90+% employee retention rate and their high customer satisfaction ratings.
Rolex continues to succeed because they make a high quality products, but also because they relentlessly guard their brand and their emotional discriminators. Rolex is a well-known brand. The company continues to advertise in luxurious settings and endorses the top athletes and celebrities. When someone wears a Rolex, most people immediately recognize the brand. Customers understand this and that gives Rolex an emotional discriminator over, say, Bvlgari, Hoblot, or Piaget. Buy a Rolex and most people you meet will recognize your success.
At The JAY Group, we understood that we sell peace of mind, but needed to find our emotional discriminator. Our research told us that we stood out because we let our clients be the heroes. Bingo! Now we know our emotional discriminator and it’s embedded in everything we do.
To help improve loyalty, first determine the emotional triggers for your category. Note that these may be different for unique customer segments. Not everyone buys from you for the same reason. Then figure out your emotional discriminators. Think about your customers/clients. Do they depend on you? Do you provide something they are not getting elsewhere? Remember, the most important question you can ask your customers is why they choose you over their competitors. Analyze those answers. Read between the lines. Your emotional discriminator is in there, and your success depends on it.
– Jay Weinberg
* Source: J.D. Power 2014 North America Airline Satisfaction Study (http://www.jdpower.com/ja/node/4611)