At this point in your life, you have probably been targeted by hundreds, or even thousands of people, all trying to collect data about you and your habits. You may have been contacted over the phone by a telemarketer, or maybe you were contacted in the form of an online survey and asked to give your opinion on a product. Maybe you’ve had a visitor at your doorstep and have been asked to provide information on your political beliefs. Maybe you don’t even realize that you have been providing information about yourself and your habits every time you go grocery shopping and swipe that trusty rewards card. Regardless of how or why you are targeted, the point is that you are targeted for information, for your data, and it will never stop, because data is that important!
Have you ever wondered why Mr. XYZ wants to know when you last replaced your furnace filter, or how many cats you have living in your basement and what brand of food you buy for them? Well the answer is “big data.” It is about time that everyone realizes that “big data” is real, and utilizing it is one of the most important and sought after abilities one can leverage. In short, “big data” refers to any large amount of data that has been collected and has the ability to be mined for information. This collection of data may or may not be structured in a certain way. It may have been acquired from multiple sources. To the average eye, this data may seem to have no evident correlations amongst it whatsoever. Data analysts everywhere would like to disagree!
Allow me to provide a simple real-life scenario in which a grocery store can utilize “big data” that has been collected from their customers with rewards cards. By swiping your card, all sorts of data can be collected by the store, including what items you purchased, how many of each item you purchased, what time you checked out, how many sale items you purchased, how many non-sale items you purchased, at which location you shopped, how much you spent, how much you saved, how many coupons you brought with you (both store-created coupons and brand manufacturer coupons), and the list goes on and on. Somewhere, at grocery headquarters, this data gets dumped into a giant pot with other data from other stores, and from product manufacturers, and from transportation companies, and from any number of other sources. In a back room somewhere, there is an IT person crunching numbers and mining this expansive collection of data. Let’s take a look at the type of information some of these data analysts can pull when your data is combined with all of the other shoppers.
- Based on your purchase history, analysts can predict which coupons should be delivered to your doorstep, and which coupons you will likely just throw away. The best part is that these coupons or advertisements can be different for each and every shopper, based on their personal purchase history. This is not only beneficial to you, the customer, but it also benefits the grocer’s advertising ROI, and it helps to cut down on unnecessary environmental waste.
- They can use this data to understand how much of a certain product they are going through in a set amount of time. They also know that it generally takes the transportation company 3 days for this product to be shipped across country. All of this information will allow the purchasing team to more accurately predict how much of an item they need to order and when they need to order it to ensure that the shelves stay stocked, and the ingredients stay fresh! This cuts down on waste, and keeps the customers happy.
- Everyone knows that the grocery store can be a crowded scene around the holidays. But if you’re the manager, how do you know how many employees you need to schedule around these times? Well through some data analysis, the stores can predict how many shoppers to expect, which hours of the day will be the busiest, the average wait time between check-outs for each lane, how many lanes the store will need open to cut down on long lines and minimize the shopper’s wait time, and how many grocery bags to have stocked and ready to handle the rush!
The above examples are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to utilizing “big data” to understand your business and improve your decision making. But business owners are not the only ones to realize the importance and power of this data. Hackers and ill-intentioned techies know that businesses are the prime resources for expansive collections of data. From identity theft to the ability to sell the compromised data, there are numerous reasons that they want this data. The bottom line is that they want this data, and they will never stop trying to attain this data, because data is that important!
In my next article, we will look at some of the more common ways that a business’s data is compromised and ways to help safeguard your priceless collection of information.
This is the first blog of our “B2B Loyalty” blog series—we’re really excited about it and we hope you enjoy the content. So, let’s get started…
B2B – we hear it all the time in the business world. But let’s get the definition out of the way… According to the infamous Wikipedia, “Business-to-business (B2B) is commerce transactions between businesses, such as between a manufacturer and a wholesaler, or between a wholesaler and a retailer.” So, obviously, the opposite would be B2C or Business-to-consumer.
Loyalty – let’s get that definition cleared up as well… Again, same highly regarded source, “Loyalty is faithfulness or a devotion to a person, country, group, or cause.” Interestingly enough, as you read further about this definition, it’s mentioned that many argue that an object of loyalty should only be a human being… but we very frequently use the term “Brand Loyalty” in the marketing world—And in this case, the object of loyalty would be a brand… definitely not a human being. On the contrary, however, humans or people are in fact the driver behind the life of a brand, so humans = brands… right? Ok, enough philosophy on that one… You get my drift.
Let’s dive in… When we put these two words together we get “B2B Loyalty”, hence the reason for this blog. If we consider the two separate definitions above, we can define this combined term as “Dedication to a brand from a business transaction perspective”. Simple, right? Maybe not. We’re here to explain the 3 different types of B2B Loyalty as well as highlight some examples in the real business world of how rewards programs heighten the importance of this topic. So, here it goes:
(1) Manufacturer to Dealer
The first B2B loyalty scenario involves a manufacturing company distributing products to dealer companies to sell those products in their region or territory. The dealer and their sales associates are loyal to the manufacturer’s brand(s) when they sell the brand product(s) to their customers. But why be loyal when the dealer has other competitor manufacturer products to sell as well? That’s when B2B loyalty comes to play… here are great examples:
Mack Bulldog Club
According to the related case study, this incentive program is intended for Mack Trucks to reward their dealers and their sales people upon completion of training and sales performance. Mack Bulldog Club is a tiered, points-based program with rewards that include experiences and cash. What does the program achieve? Sales growth and increased market share. All business people praise these terms!
SAP PartnerEdge Loyalty
Bloomberg Businessweek highlights this program in a research case study, explaining the importance of driving channel partner performance. With the SAP PartnerEdge program, partners are being rewarded for activities such as sales and training (repeating trend here, same activities as the Mack program highlighted above). The case study mentions that because there’s an integrated rewards system, the partners are focused on selling SAP’s products and services over SAP’s competitors. That’s loyalty at its best!
(2) Company to Company
The 2nd type of B2B loyalty is when a company sells its product(s) or service(s) to another company. The selling company’s client, so to speak, is the buying company who, in theory, purchases from the selling company to assist their business goals and objectives. The purpose of integrating loyalty in this scenario is to show commitment to a client company, and in the end, fostering a long-term buying relationship that retains that company’s business. Here are a couple very good examples of this B2B loyalty relationship:
“U” Premier Loyalty Program
A great example of a loyalty program for B2B clients is highlighted in this Marketing.org article. The “U” Premier program is offered by PHX, a provider of one-stop cost-management services for health-care companies. The company wanted to try something completely different in its industry, so they started a platform that encouraged education and incentives for its client companies. The points-driven, tier-level program (again, another trend) rewards clients based on tenure, claims, and activity completion such as a survey. Among many achievements, the feedback and knowledge gained to realize the potential of better servicing their clients is probably the most important. At the end of the day, the selling company recognizes loyalty of its buying company clients by the noticeable staying power and activity within its precise program.
Starwood Preferred Guest Pro
This is a great example of taking an existing B2C loyalty program (in this case, the audience of hotel guest customers) and expanding it into the B2B space. This Loyalty360 article explains it very well—Starwood Hotels created the Pro version in order to recognize the business received from company meeting planners and travel associates… it’s simple, every time a business event is booked, the company receives rewards points and access to other great benefits. As stated on the program’s page, “Earn for work. Redeem for fun – business has never been so personal.” It’s a genius idea.
(3) Company to Employees
The last type is probably the most common… A company shows their loyalty to their employees by recognizing achievements and performance. You will frequently see service awards that reward ‘x’ years of service to the company. However, there is so much opportunity to integrate a full-fledged program with multiple types of recognition… this really creates a positive impact with a company’s workforce. In the end, employees will be highly engaged in their work, and the company will see increased employee retention, and most important, profitability. Here are a couple examples of an employee recognition program:
This Scotiabank website link talks a little bit about their industry-leading, international recognition program. The program is structured so that employees can both send and receive recognition based on different values and behaviors. “Applause points” are awarded to be redeemed on the rewards catalog. The online platform also integrates their “Best of the Best” program that highlights their best employees, judged based on four key areas: people, customer, operational and financial. What a great way to engage employees in two-way communication and recognizing leaders within a company organization.
Intuit Spotlight Awards
One of Intuit’s values is “It’s the People”, as mentioned on an Intuit site page. The company truly recognizes that their people are the driving force behind their success, and they’ve made a strategic decision to invest in their recognition program. Another source explains that the program is very versatile making it ideal to reward employees for both small and large achievements, and their rewards can be redeemed for a variety of gift certificates. One differentiator of the program is their “Write Stuff” awards where the communications team is recognized for their writing skills… besides the cash prize involved, what makes this unique is they also get to display their award certificate for all other employees to see.
We recently gave a seminar presentation and exhibited at the Mid-America Trucking Show. Turnover rates in the trucking industry are astronomically high, so we did our part to spread the word about the importance of employee engagement to help improve retention. While we focused on the trucking industry during our seminar, Reinvent Recruiting & Retention, the presentation content applies to any company in any industry. So, let’s digest the content, shall we? Here it goes:
According to a recent Gallup Poll, did you know that 2/3 of US workers feel disengaged at work? That’s a pretty large number of people… One would think most of those people don’t want to feel that way considering being at work takes up most of their time.
With that said, implementing a recognition program is the key to optimizing employee engagement. Referring to this Globoforce Article, when companies spend 1% or more of payroll on recognition, 85% see a positive impact on engagement.
That’s a pretty impactful statement right there. Here is a summary of a case study from the call center industry that proves this…
- Situation: A 1500-seat call center with over 200% turnover. Job is boring and stressful. Management invested in higher pay, better workstations, and better benefits… no improvement.
- Tactics: Focused on why employees stayed and they determined it was co-worker bonds. By reinforcing positive employee behavior, they launched an online employee recognition program. The program rewarded for random acts of kindness, among others, to help reinforce and strengthen the importance of employee bonds.
- Results: 200% turnover was down by 133%, and falling. And most importantly, 82% of employees believed the company committed to recognizing employee accomplishments.
So, as you can see, employee engagement is pretty important for business. But many decision makers may be asking themselves, “Where do I start?” or “How can I make this happen?” No worries, we’re here to help. Here’s what we call our “Action Plan” to get things going…
STEP 1 = LISTEN
Plain and simple… regular employee feedback amounts to lower turnover. Your workforce feels valued and appreciated when they are involved in company processes. Mentioned in this employee engagement info graphic, there are 14.9% lower turnover rates in companies that implement regular employee feedback. Here are some ideas…
- Implement an “open-door policy”. No one likes to just be “talked to”… it’s a 2-way street! Let your employees have a voice to speak to all company staff levels.
- Check-in at least once per month. Don’t wait until that annual performance review. And encourage feedback… everyone will benefit from it.
- Ask for new ideas. Conducting a survey is probably the best way to accomplish this as well as get feedback and a better understanding on particular topics within your organization.
STEP 2 = INVEST
You’ve listened, and now you’re ready to invest in your employees. And from a recruiting standpoint, there are 2 “recruiting musts” that all recruiters need to keep in mind…
#1: Hire based on fit. This blog by O.C. Tanner explains it really well. Hire people who really fit within your company culture. Employees who believe in their company’s core values and align with the culture will positively translate into their work.
#2: Use Social Media. According to this recent social recruiting survey, social media is an essential recruitment tool across all industries. The top 3, in order of popularity, are LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Did you know that the millennial generation is now the largest population in the workforce? This generation pretty much lives and breathes social media, so it’s a no-brainer for companies to be present in this space.
Once you’ve recruited the right people, now it’s time to truly invest and train them. No question, training is very important. Training = Better Performance, as referenced earlier, this info graphic further helps depict this. Companies that invest more in training and career development outperform their peers. How do you improve upon training? Here are some ways…
- Encourage participation in special mentoring programs to help your employees grow.
- Implement continuous learning… an eLearning module on an integrated online program is a perfect example.
- Make sure the mission of your company culture is evident in your training content.
Let’s really drive home the importance of company culture, shall we? Do you ever shop at Zappos.com? This company is a prime example of positive company culture, and their employees know it… and so do their customers since their happy attitudes show up in their customer service skills. Take some time to read more about Zappos culture… it will make you want to work there. Oh, and their CEO Tony Hsieh published a book called Delivering Happiness, A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose… it’s now a movement… learn more here. It just goes to show that if a company is dedicated to their company culture and core values, their bottom line profits will be positively impacted.
STEP 3 = RECOGNIZE
And the final step at that… This Forbes article explains how recognition really works by referencing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Recognition supports our higher-level psychological needs in order to make us feel important and respected. Compensation and benefits is a base-line and we need more than that. Elements of recognition make us feel appreciated and happy. All companies need to embrace this concept to truly improve employee engagement.
Further, recognition = motivation… And, again, referencing this amazing source, 78% of employees said being recognized motivates them in their job. Here are some tips:
- Praise employees often… Frequency is key… at least once per week.
- All levels of the workforce should participate… not just at the manager level, but peer-to-peer as well. Encourage recognition to all.
- Recognize for all different kinds of performance, not just one thing. Years of service, new ideas, birthdays, event attendance, learning completions, wellness activities, etc… the list goes on and on! And better yet, incorporate all recognition types into one program.
An integrated recognition program needs meaningful rewards for your workforce. So, what rewards are true motivators or incentives? It ranges from pure transaction, such as cash or gift cards to emotional experiences, like travel or trips. Non-cash rewards have more of an emotional impact; However, if you reward with cash rewards the options are endless for what that reward can be used for or applied to. Reloadable prepaid cards that are customized with the company logo are a great way to represent the company and allow your employees to use it wherever they want.
So, let’s compare the importance of recognition to our personal lives… You wouldn’t tell your significant other “I love you” once a year, would you? This Lifehacker blog talks about the secret of happy couples… and in one referenced study, people who responded to their significant other’s triumphs at least 3 times per day for 1 week increased their happiness. We’re all human… It makes sense that we’re happiest when we’re frequently recognized in our personal lives… the same applies to our life at work.
Official Rules? Do we need them? Short answer: yes.
This comes up more often than you'd think. "But we're only giving away a T-shirt on Facebook, what's the big deal?!" The big deal is this: Rules protect your brand and your business. They also protect the consumer. They act as a contract. Do X, you could win Y. Otherwise, there are loopholes, and unclear promotions, and at the end of the day, a confused follower could become an upset follower. These days, the old mantra of "a happy customer will tell 1 person about your business and an unhappy one will tell 5 people about your business" still rings true -- but add some zeroes to that number. When you're simply trying to have some fun and give some things away - do it right. Don't open your brand up to potentially upsetting a customer. You certainly didn't mean to - but the whole issue could have been avoided with clear expectations for both parties, and that's where rules come into play.
Not to mention, rules are required by the FTC for any and all promotions. For exactly the reasons above, but mostly for the protection of the consumer. So, not only is it a best practice - it's the law.
We'll spare the gory details for now - but there are different laws for different states (that's why rules tend to be PAGES long - to satisfy ALL of those requirements in 1 document for a national or North American promotion). We've dealt with all sorts of promotions, and they are all different - and the laws are too. Based on the industry, the location of the promotion, the prize, the value of the prize, the type of business you have, etc.
Sounds scary, but really, as long as your "t's" are crossed, your brand will be protected. Still scared? Give us a call - we're here to help!
A great article from Marketing Profs - discussing the same: To support that blog we posted last week :)
It’s National Truck Driver Appreciation Week! Did you know that truck drivers are the #1 occupation in the United States? It’s so important to appreciate this hard-working group of people! What better way for PBS to celebrate this week than by blogging about our recent experience at the GATS show!
Here's a picture of Cindy and Joyce at the show - they met some great folks out in Dallas! In addition to exhibiting, PBS also hosted a seminar titled "Improve Company Profitability: Strategies to Win The Recruiting & Retention Game." Rewards Programs are proven effective at changing behavior and rewarding employees. We're excited to bring our loyalty solution to this great industry!
Product review sweepstakes are common place and just this year, the NAD released new guidelines regarding disclosure requirements.
Anywhere that product reviews are incentivized by a prize should somewhere show a brief disclosure about the connection between the review and the incentive.
“Advertisers incentivizing reviews with sweepstakes or contest entries should ensure that such reviews contain a disclosure regarding the material connection between the entrant and the advertiser.” Read more here.
Below are a few examples of how a manufacturer or retailer displays a disclosure for product reviews that are associated to a sweepstakes.
1. Raymour & Flanigan