No one is more important than … me. By “me” I don’t
mean Elizabeth Mansfield, I mean “me” as in the ‘What’s in
it for me?’ “me.” Everyone wants to feel special. You know that.
But do you take that into account in your marketing strategies?
Bronze, Silver, Gold. It’s not just for the Olympics anymore. Throw
platinum in the mix and you have your own heavy metal tier system.
Everyone wants to feel special. How do you get them to feel special? By
making each person part of a group. Sounds strange that clumping people
together would create the illusion of being unique, but follow this strategy.
Create elite status tiers. Companies are increasingly using loyalty
programs to retain customers. They group customers into distinct classes based
on their purchase history, creating status hierarchies in which customers who
are more loyal receive different and better experiences. In the airline
industry, for example, status tiers enable customers to exhibit their status
via priority lines, special luggage tags, and lounges or other spaces for
|© 2010 iStockphoto.com/Andrew
I’m a Delta Gold Medallion member. I get a special gold luggage tag
to put on my suitcase and a special number to call if I need to talk to someone
in customer service. Can you imagine how special your customers, patients,
clients, referral sources would feel if they had a “Gold Medallion”
number to call at your office? The key would be to answer those incoming calls
with a special greeting – “Good Morning, this is XYZ O&P’s
Gold Medallion line, how may I help you?” Acknowledging the status is
important, otherwise, what would be the point?
American Express has been applying the rules of heavy metal marketing
for years. Green, Gold, Platinum, Black. It’s all about exclusivity.
People actually pay more money for the privilege of being able to use a
different color card. Sure, they’ve got different, more extensive benefits
but do those perks justify the cost of using the card?
The Black American Express card, known as the Centurion Card, has a
$2500.00 annual fee in addition to a one-time activation charge of $5,000.00.
That is $7,500.00 you have to pay for the privilege of using the card. Oh, and
did I mention you can’t just apply for the card, you need to be invited by
American Express to apply for the card. That’s masterful use of heavy
In O&P, establishing an elite status loyalty program is relatively
easy for vendors and manufacturers. You can base it on purchases — number
of purchases per month, quarter, year; amount of purchases.
The trick for a patient care practice would be how to implement an elite
status loyalty program that is legal and ethical. If you’re selling
over-the-counter, socks, shoes or soft goods, it could be as simple as the
“buy 10 cups of coffee, get one free” type of program that many
coffee chains have used in the past. Or, it could be based on years of
patronage — 1 to 5 years is silver, 5 to 10 years is gold and 1 to 15
years is platinum.
In any case, the key to success is simplicity and communication.
It’s better to start small and add benefits instead of taking them
away. Nothing makes a loyal customer angrier than taking away some of their
elite status benefits.