Thursday 23 December 2010

Give and ye shall receive (it's guaranteed)

christmas-gift-giving.jpgVisa Europe reckons we'll be spending nearly £14,000 per second this Christmas Eve - and it might be even more than that based on the disruption the snow has caused to peoples plans.

All that money ringing through the tills just so that we can give.

For the most part that's giving without any expectations of getting something back; buying presents for the kids or close family and friends. However for others you may give simply because you previously got given - returning the favour year on year.

What if though, rather than giving gifts as a selfless act, you instead gave gifts specifically for what you could get back. What if you knew before hand that buying a certain gift for a certain person would guarantee an even better gift in return.

Would you be more tempted to buy them a gift?

Well hopefully this isn't a scenario you'll experience this year at Christmas, but it's certainly one you might be experience in the near future - as a consumer.

Recently reported by AdAge, the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas is giving away access to specific services and amenities to customers they feel have influence. As Palms' chief marketing officer, Jason Gastwirth puts it "allow[ing] high-ranking influencers to experience Palms' impressive set of amenities in hopes that these influencers will want to communicate their positive experience to their followers."

In essence, "giving" not in return for what they have already been given. Nor even "giving" based on what they think a customer may be able to give back. Instead they are "giving" so that a customer will tell others about it, increasing everyone's value.

This is no longer a "Random Act of Kindness" so beloved of loyalty marketing - this is a highly engineered act of bribery, sugar coated as a gift.

Whether you feel this is right or wrong though - this will surely work, and the reason for this is all to do with the customers clout.

More specifically, this is the customers Klout score as measured based on their online social activity. Described by Klout as :-

The Klout Score is the measurement of your overall online influence. The scores range from 1 to 100 with higher scores representing a wider and stronger sphere of influence. Klout uses over 35 variables on Facebook and Twitter to measure True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Score.

With the Klout score a brand can be more assured that a member has the capability to make some noise - they just to give them the reason to do so. (Or in the case of a customer service issue, even more reason to get it resolved well)

While it is easy to be cynical about this, it does add another dimension to loyalty programme design. Traditionally programmes have been very insular, rewarding individual customers for their individual behaviour, but only after they have demonstrated it.

Some have become a little smarter, looking at an individual customers behaviours and rewarding them based on predictions on their future behaviour - many frequent flyer programmes for example will now "fast track" new members who appear to look like top tier members.

It's a natural extension then to begin rewarding customers based not only on their predicted ability to be advocates, but also based on their actual capability. This is fine line between "rewarding the behaviours you seek" and blatant bribery, but used well, I think this becomes a key tool within an overall loyalty offering.

Maybe the saying in loyalty should now be:-

[Before you] give, [checkout their ability to give] and ye shall [be guaranteed] to receive.

Not quite the Christmas Spirit, but possibly a more prosperous New Year.

Merry Christmas. ;o)