There were some great panels at the FoodService Social Media Universe Conference, and one of the stand-outs was on “rewarding brand loyalty.”

The panel consisted of Jon Cardr of MOGL, Scott Meldrum of Pollin8, Tanya Salcido of Design Action Studios and was moderated by Julia Staffen of Empathica, Inc. They relayed many great points on acquiring and maintaining brand loyalty, and many of these points can be applied to both restaurants and other venues alike.

Creating Loyal Customers

Here are some of the takeaways on brand loyalty:

  • Loyal customers spend 65% more than an indifferent customer, visit 2-3x a month vs others who come once and are 3x more likely to talk about brands online.
  • Successful businesses are able to build trust with their audience, tell their story, define their purpose and mission, plus are able to easily communicate with their audience 24/7.
  • Do consumers expect more from loyalty programs? Yes. “I will connect with you if there is something in it for me” – now there’s some form of exclusive content tied in as well.
  • Keeping consumers faithful requires a “combination of conversation and activation.”
  • Punch cards are going mobile: There are now mobile apps that track a person’s frequency at a venue.
  • Show that you get your fans — People don’t want to connect with a company, they want to connect with other brands
  • It’s not just a dialogue anymore, it’s a trialogue — between you, a customer, and THEIR customers — they are now a brand and have their own audience. Do what makes sense for your brand, your customers and their customers.
  • If you can give the consumer a closer relationship with the brand or the product than they would have otherwise, you have something you can harness. For example, if you’re a restaurant, and  the lines are always crazy, offer currency in exchange for a checkin – is it premium seating, expedited service, skipping ahead in line? Figure out something that has high perceived value from the customer.
  • Brands should focus on what’s ubiquitous -– pay attention to what’s emerging, trending. But brands also need solutions today and they need to reach as many people as they can through whatever platform/across multiple platforms.
  • Test/have something foundational before you leap into other avenues.
  • “The web isn’t social. People are social. Take one person engaging with another in a conversation about your brand and then apply to that a platform you’re interested in capitalizing on… Figure out what is going to stimulate that conversation.”
  • A great product, great service, etc., that’s loyalty, that’s always been loyalty. Just then apply it to your platform.
  • Why are customers loyal to this product, to this brand? Understand the mechanics and emotional tipping point of that, and then gage how to do it on one platform vs another.
  • It’s more expensive to maintain a customer than attain a customer. When you get them,  hang on to them.