Local Businesses Need Loyalty Programs and Here’s 5 Reasons Why

In Customer Experience, Featured on App, Loyalty & CRM, Marketing and Sales by Kevin Kelly

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National big retailers are the most developed sector with loyalty programs in the United States market. Loyalty programs, however, can benefit every retailer from startups, to Wall Street and notably—to main street stores.

What are the implications of a small main street store implementing a loyalty program?

Main street stores face a variety of challenges—smaller budgets, fewer customers, smaller PR budgets, and low brand recognition. So what can these stores do to develop loyalty programs?

1. Eliminate the punch card—it's antiquated and even on a small budget, main street stores can do a lot more to love their customers. "9 drinks then a free one!" just doesn't cut it anymore. I have at least 20 of these punch cards that I don't care about but only 3 electronic loyalty cards that give me rewards every time I shop.

2. Have your customers fill out their information whenever they make a purchase—but guard this list. Don't send out daily deals or news updates if you're a smaller store. Use it for loyalty: send priced discounts to returning customer once in awhile. This strategy upholds the brand vision and doesn't make the store seem too desperate (this one is adjustable depending on whether or not your store is well established in the community etc.)

3. Consider programs and applications that can work with you and your budget to create a unique loyalty program. Companies such as Swipely, Loyalty Blocks, PunchTab, Constant Contact, and Perfect Audience can help smaller companies understand their customer.

4. Get to know your customer and love them: they are the key to your businesses' success. Consider every customer that walks in is a potential loyal client of your small businesses.

5. Local businesses are in vogue! Take advantage of the fact that you're not one of the large companies often demonized on social media and in the press—take advantage of your demographic knowledge and insights of your community. Local is cool.

These are just some strategies to consider—main street needs loyalty programs just as much as the big box retailers. What are your thoughts? How do loyalty programs function differently on main street?

Learn more about loyalty programs at the US 2013 Customer Festival this October where top marketers and c-levels will be discussing solutions to these kinds of issues.

[image – flickr Express Monorail]