Personalizing best-customer rewards with gusto

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The epitome of stage-one personalization is the email that begins, “Dear [firstname] [lastname],” with the computer filling in the blanks. That’s a first rudimentary step in invoking a customer’s name for engagement. The ultimate step? Perhaps placing the customer’s name on the side of a Boeing 747-400.

Such was the honor for frequent-flyer Thomas Stuker, as part of United Airlines’ celebration of the very-much-traveling salesman’s passing the 10-million-mile mark in travel in the Mileage Plus program this past weekend. Stuker received a number of other perks from United President and CEO Jeff Smisek in the celebration, including a customer-labeled bottle of wine and a unique United Titanium Card (read details in David Parker Brown’s Airline Reporter blog). But it was Stuker’s marquee billing that caught my eye. Some people dream of having their name in lights. Mr. Stuker has his name in flights.

If you’re going to personalize with a name, go far beyond the ability of a laser-printer to slap it onto a direct-mail piece or a computer to arrange electrons in an email. For your top customers, personalize with gusto. This is the sort of recognition that Maker’s Mark bestows on the members of its Ambassador program–aging barrels are imprinted with members’ names–one member per barrel (not to mention the ability to buy bottles of bourbon from one’s very own barrel). Such demonstrations are physical, relatively permanent, and an honor leveraging an intensely personal brand–one’s own name.

OK, I suspect that you might not have a spare 747 or a basement of bourbon barrels to use for jotting down the names of your best customers, but you might have other assets on hand to apply a name to. A sport shirt boasting your logo with the member’s name embroidered on the sleeve delivered to the customer as a member of your “team), or a hall of fame in corporate headquarters sporting his or her moniker, or some other physical memento of a thank-you from you to your honored customer.

What more personal way to give thanks–and maybe drum up some great word-of-mouth in the process (as you see in action in this very blog and in a number of others that are recognizing United’s act of recognition)?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bill Brohaugh
As managing editor, Bill Brohaugh is responsible for the day-to-day management and editorial for the COLLOQUY magazine and colloquy.com, the most comprehensive loyalty marketing web site in the world. In addition to writing many of the feature articles, Bill develops the editorial calendar, hires and manages outside writers and researchers and oversees print and online production. He also contributes to COLLOQUY's weekly email Market Alert and the COLLOQUYTalk series of white papers.

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