Make the Transition from Linear Marketing to Loyalty 360

Fly Fishing

Why fly fishing is the answer to embarking on this new adventure

There is a difference between linear marketing and managing the customer experience.

Linear marketing is a means of designing an offer path for the customer. In Acquisition mode, we sign the customer up for a loyalty card. We guide the customer towards Retention strategies with bounceback offers. If trips or spend should wane or disappear, we Recapture loyalty with more offers.

Linear marketing keeps us in transactional mode. The customer spends. We reply with an offer. We dangle more benefits. We sell our loyalty program. We discount. And then we feverishly hope our reinvestment doesn’t sink our margins.

There is a new frontier for marketing.

Are we ready? We depart from linear concepts that hook loyalty with offers. We, in turn, set the stage for managing the customer experience. It’s an omni-channel strategy to engage the customer. It’s a planned means of surprise and delight that is not weighted by entitlement. This is the arena of Loyalty 360. It is fueled by data and delivered with heart.

There is a movie that illustrates the leap from linear marketing to the dynamic environment of marketing per Loyalty 360 principles. In this movie, only the beauty of Montana can upstage the good looks of Brad Pitt. In my illustration, only the strength of a good analogy can set the stage for reconfiguring how we recognize and reward customers within a loyalty program.

What movie is this? Perhaps one of the most beautiful pieces of cinema ever made.

A River Runs Through It is based upon the equally beautiful book by Norman Maclean. It’s a movie about fly fishing. Sure, it’s about other things too. But twenty-six years later, I remember the fly fishing and am awaiting the spring melt to put on my waders, grab my reel, and cast.

Loyalty 360 is like fly-fishing. And I’ll tell you why.

As a marketer, I live in a stream of data. I have siloed sources of data:

  • My CRM system
  • My Gaming Management system
  • My Hotel Management system
  • My POS system

These are the top powerhouses.

Then I have smaller wells of information: Keno, Bingo, Spa, Bowling, and the list goes on.

None of these silos play nicely along the banks together. And yet, a river runs through it. Data is constantly streaming through; we net it, we warehouse it, we cube it, and we pluck it (if we’re lucky and our systems are configured that way). As a marketer, I cast my questions into the stream. Loyalty 360 is the finesse with which I ask the right questions, read the environment, and net my take.

As Steve Browne says, “In gaming and hospitality, we never close the sale.” Likewise, Loyalty 360 is a rhythm of catch and release. We catch and release the data. We catch and release the customers as they make their journey through the river bottoms that we call home.

Loyalty360 is about recognizing and reinforcing total customer value. It’s about creating sustained personal engagement with customers throughout every step of their brand journeys. We can no longer afford to buy the business. We can no longer compete by using rational exchanges based upon points and tiers. We can no longer entitle our customers with Free Play and discounts. We must transcend the transactional and engage the customer with better connections to the activities that bring them joy and excitement.

This ain’t bait fishing, my friend. Bait fishermen throw their worm in, letting the fish choose to take it or leave it. For bait fishermen, the size of the Free Play matters.

No, this is fly fishing. If you cast poorly, you don’t eat. You feed the line. You mend the line. You keep the fly in the zone for as long as you can. It’s a sport of finesse. Mending takes finesse. What is mending? It’s the art of the cast and the way that the fly lands in the water in an effort to match nature. You want the speed of the fly to match the speed of the current. You want the fish to be drawn to the fly as if it were sustenance, not something attached to a line, a pole, your net, and ultimately, your belly. Mending as you cast allows the fly to hit the water organically, naturally, following the path of a fly.

As you wade into Loyalty 360 waters, you must enter with the goal of bringing all spend under one customer ID. Only then can you read the river. Then you must explore the passions that drive the customer upstream. Do not discount the passions, enliven them. What can you do with your incentives, your communications, and your style to connect with those drivers? Concentrate on your cast and not the bait. Fly fishermen spend a lifetime perfecting their choice for the perfect fly. What flies does the local environment produce? At what stage from larvae to pupae do the conditions merit? What are the fish biting? Rarely does marketing spend the time to better understand the dynamics of each amenity at the property to perfect its touchpoints.

Half of it is reading the river.

Half of it is reading the fish.

All of it is tuning what you do to coincide with how the fish hunts for food.

Nicole Barker