Most people think of loyalty as a transaction-based mechanism – spend some money, earn points and you get access to benefits. I have written, in this section, at length about how this transactional focus and benefits cycle is not the key to success in Sports Loyalty.
That’s not to say that “Spend”, particularly when it happens frequently (daily, weekly) is not a really-good mechanism to keep the fan actively engaged - it can be. In general, however Sports Teams need to go beyond transactions and positively influence fan decisions by rewarding them for desired “actions”. In this case spend is rewarded as an activity and not just an amount.
The concept of action-based loyalty or “activations” goes even further than one might think. Considering how many businesses offer traditional “loyalty programs” today, one innovative idea is to make yourself stand out is to nix the idea of employing a "program" altogether. Instead, build engagement by providing fans with awesome real-time benefits related to specific actions. Read more about real-time activations here.
Sports (as distinct from retail and financial sectors) is not really about acquiring customers or retaining a fans loyalty – in most cases your fan base exhibits an unerring bond with the Team brand and ethos. The job of loyalty marketing in this space is to optimize the value generated for the fan and by the fan across each point of interaction. It is the inter”action” that you are rewarding not the spend.
As 2022 starts you need to reflect on - what interactions do you want to reward? A simple question but with no single answer. Accept that you will have different answers for the different segments of your fan base and elements of your business. Ticketing may want to reward for the activity of renewal and attendance. Concessions and Retail may want to reward for spend. Sponsorship will want to reward for partner engagement. Social will want to reward for community involvement. Your CRO will want to reward for activities that maximise the for-profit activities of the business, whilst others may want to focus on sentiment and experiences. None of these objectives are mutually exclusive, but setting your priorities is a key place to start.
With the destination in mind we can help you build a playbook of activations that nudge the behaviour of your fans towards the desired objectives. The mechanisms employed may include the traditional earn and burn cycle of loyalty, but may equally be just a series of real-time activations and promotions that are delivered at the most desirable moment in the most effective way.
The point being that the playbook for loyalty marketing, is today as varied as the playbook for winning the game on the field – it will include offensive, defensive, pre-planned and seemingly spontaneous moves – each responding to the ebb and flow of the game – but ultimately all targeted to the ultimate objective for 2022 – winning the game.