Do you think a loyalty program is just a business card that gets punched for every purchase, and after 10 punches the customer gets 1 free? Sorry, but that's not really a loyalty program, just an incentive to come back. If the loyalty is only for the free gift, it's not solid.
Compare the punch card with some big-company approaches that really do build loyalty.
It wasn't so many years ago that buying a car was a horrible chore. You came into the dealership fully expecting a hostile, manipulative environment. But even before the Internet made it possible for consumers to be far better informed, Saturn revolutionized the way cars are sold—and sold a huge number of cars in the process.
Saturn is a part of General Motors, the largest U.S. car maker, and one firmly rooted in the old, adversarial ways. But Saturn did a number of things differently. It created a feeling of pride and ownership among its employees that enabled the car line to quickly develop a reputation for quality. Its design standards emphasized safety but did not compromise value, economy, performance, or comfort. And the Saturn dealer network—many of whom also operated traditional showrooms selling other brands—treated the customer as a valued part of not just the sales process but the entire idea of driving a Saturn. The customer-really-counts philosophy even extended to its ads, which have often featured ordinary people who drive Saturns.
When you walk into ...