February 28, 2020
How do you distinguish a transactional relationship from an emotional one? The report, Loyalty That Lasts published jointly by Cheetah Digital and CMO Council brings an important aspect of customer behavior to light: emotional loyalty. What is the intention behind your customer interactions? Is it just to make a sale? Or to establish a lasting bond—a bond that is not “predicated on savings, rewards or promotions”?
The expert commentary by Judd Marcello of Cheetah Digital delves into the foundational elements of emotional loyalty (affinity, alignment and trust), emphasises the complexity involved in achieving it and outlines the benefits for both brands and customers. Executive perspectives from senior marketers explore how loyalty is redefined from the customer’s perspective and shows that proper, consistent and reciprocal use of customer voice can help progress from transactional to emotional loyalty.
Based on insights from 170 senior marketers, the report indicates a fundamental disconnect between marketers’ efforts to deliver brand experience and their initiatives to drive customer engagement at both strategic and tactical levels.
There are three fundamental shifts that need to occur in the way we ‘think and do’ marketing. These shifts are contrary to our traditional views and challenge well-entrenched paradigms but are nevertheless necessary.
Reformulate the marketing mix
The purpose of marketing is, no doubt, to deliver sustainable profits for the business and should never be overlooked. Even so, for a discipline that is founded on customer orientation, it is somewhat odd that business priorities dictate marketing strategy more than customer interests do.
The marketing mix is a great framework to organize the function.
Anchoring marketing operations to the notorious “Four Ps” may have inadvertently relegated to second place, the primacy of the “Four Cs,” namely customer core needs, cost to customer, customer conversation and customer convenience.
When making day-to-day marketing mix decisions, pausing and thinking about the 4 Cs can be the initial, crucial step needed to put the customer first and—ideally—pave the way for lasting loyalty.
(For those reluctant to let go of the 4 Ps scaffold, a previous Spotlight article in the June edition of Marketing Magnified introduces a fifth ‘P’ that provides a fresh approach to deploying the elements of the marketing mix).
Reframe the definition of a customer
Too often, marketing activity treats customers as targets, not as a people. These efforts emphasize a commercially valid motive: making the customer buy more, more often. However, if the sale is not a result of memorable brand experiences and intimate customer engagement, such behavior can be short-lived.
In researching customers’ needs as buyers, seldom is there an attempt to understand them as individuals. What role does the product or service play in making their lives more efficient and more fulfilling? More enjoyable? Marketers go to great lengths to understand buyer motives, attitudes and usages without observing the big picture.
Customers are people first, not just buyers.
Revamp the 3 Rs of Loyalty
A reoccurring theme throughout Loyalty That Lasts is how companies traditionally view loyalty from their perspective, not from the consumer's point of view.
Three core metrics measured loyalty for many years: recency, frequency and monetary value. Additionally, rewards, cursory (card-based) recognition and repeat purchase characterized that loyalty. This approach largely promotes transactional loyalty…but what about emotional loyalty? If organizations aim to create real, emotionally loyal relationships with their customers, respect and role reversal must underpin the bond between brand and customer.
Real relationships require cultural shifts in marketing. More than merely making a sale, marketers also need to build a bridge. Respect involves regarding a customer’s time, information, likes and needs as paramount, while role reversal means putting ourselves in the shoes of the customer—making sure we take off our own in the process Respect requires showing empathy, honesty and integrity while treating the customer as an equal.
Customers are not targets to be locked in or prospects to be peddled to. They are partners with whom a value exchange must occur in an environment of mutual trust and respect. That is the very foundation of emotional loyalty that lasts.
Mahesh Enjeti, Managing Director, SAI Marketing Counsel and Advisor, Bubblefish, has an Honours degree in Physics and an MBA from IIM Kolkata. He has spent over four decades in India and Australia as a seasoned marketer, strategist, brand builder, and game changer across diverse industries. He is also a passionate marketing educator, speaker, presenter and writer.
A former Director of the Australian Marketing Institute, and currently on the Board of Allevia, a Not For Profit provider of disability services, Mahesh is an Adjunct at the Sydney Graduate School of Management where he teaches Leadership, Strategy, Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Sustainability. He serves on the judging panel of national and international business awards.
No comments yet.