How to Activate On-Premises Loyalty Programs

That notion of forming a loyalty community is a great opportunity for marketers, but there are various moving parts attached to it.
Loyalty360 talked to Carlos Dunlap-Beard, VP of Loyalty Solutions at Snipp, about this theme and what loyalty marketers should know about it.
How important are “on-premises” opportunities for brands today?
Dunlap-Beard: In today’s world of connections through digital media, having people gather together to “be social” and not just interact through media is a pretty big deal. Most brands today have a social media strategy, which includes a person, a team or an agency constantly monitoring social media channels to capture and respond to comments about their brands. That’s a good approach, but it’s not great. And it certainly isn’t comprehensive.

What if those same organizations used an event to amplify the positive chatter in their media channels, inspired enthusiasts to gather to form a community, and even involved a strategic retail partner (or hosted at their own location, if applicable) to deliver a unique experience to existing and prospective customers. For additional excitement, attendance prizes, raffles, product trials can be given to attendees to ensure they remember the brand long after the on-premises event has concluded.

A strategy like that would require integration and coordination across multiple departments and touch points. But, the benefit would be huge for the brand, its retail partner(s), and of course, for the customer—who now has increased affinity for the brand. It’s certainly more engaging and differentiated than a shelf talker or end-aisle display.
At what point in the loyalty lifecycle should this become top of mind for brands?
Dunlap-Beard: There’s no specific point to do it within a loyalty program. I’d focus more on identifying opportunities to utilize the loyalty program to enhance other marketing initiatives, such as new product releases, music or sporting events, state fairs, grand openings, political rallies, etc. The better approach is to align the on-premises event with the brand’s marketing calendar. By directing a Members Only offer to known customers within the loyalty program, the brand will create awareness, generate intrigue, and drive attendance. To take it one step further, employ a referral element by offering an incentive to members who bring a friend or family member to the event. And let’s not forget that providing a unique experience is only half of the equation. The brand also needs to drive trials and sales—which can be done by offering a double points promotion or other reward for eligible product purchases during the on-premises event.
What novel technologies should brands consider for activating members on-premises?
Dunlap-Beard: There is a list of technology options for a successful on-premises event. An app or smart-website that facilitates location check-ins and geo services would help, especially if they’re also tied into the program or the member’s social media accounts. That same tech will also permit on-premises registration of new members. To capture eligible product purchases, an image recognition and receipt capturing solution should be used to accurately validate purchases and tie those transactions to unique individuals in the program. This will increase the brands knowledge about the member’s behaviors, monetary value and preferred products.
Do you have any examples of class-leading on-premises activations?
Dunlap-Beard: Whenever I think about on-premises loyalty activations, I always come back to the “Friends with Benefits” loyalty program offered by 9:30 Club (a popular D.C. nightclub). It has all the traditional trimmings you’d expect from a member loyalty program: treats on your birthday, incentivized sign-ups, premium access to sales, but it also does exceptionally well to reward customers on premises. For example, buying food or drinks at an event earns you points. They also hold exclusive events strictly for members only.
Of course, this is an example of a business that is already inherently event-based, but CPG brands working in traditional shopping channels can benefit just as well. One of my favorite Snipp examples is the on-premises program we created with Budweiser in Canada. It was a bespoke event built explicitly to incentive on-premises engagement. Consumers can win prizes by buying a beer and getting a code from the bartender to allow them mobile gameplay. Why do I think strategies like this are so effective? It connects on-premises consumers back to the brand with engaging technology, a key ingredient for any modern loyalty campaign, and of especial criticality for the on-premise realm.
Can you talk about best practices for brands that want to capitalize on their on-premises loyalty extensions?
Dunlap-Beard: Sure. Be bold! Don’t play it safe and allow your loyalty strategy to go stale. The more a brand can evolve its channel—from manufacturing to marketing and from IT to retail partner—the better the opportunity for a successful campaign. A good idea can originate from anyone involved in the process. Plus, the more disciplines committed to the strategy, the bigger the impact will be.

Chances are, not all on-premises events will generate great results. However, good or bad, they are all opportunities to test new approaches, messages, offers, channels, partners, etc. and to learn about how to do it better next time.

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