Durable loyalty: Manufacturers’ tap into relationship-building strategies

Andy Dickhausen
Senior Account Director

Even in industries that seem to have nothing in common, there are always strategies we can take from one type of marketing scenario and adapt for a completely different one. I worked for a number of years with clients whose businesses is frequent and transactional, such as banking credit and debit cards. When I came to YA, I started looking around for ways I could take what I had learned in developing traditional loyalty programs and adapt those learnings for our manufacturing vertical, which includes clients in industries like pharmaceuticals, appliances, auto parts and computer hardware.

Challenges facing manufacturers
Manufacturers face some unique challenges when it comes to brand engagement. For many of them, the purchase of their product is infrequent and high value. This infrequent purchase cycle can force manufacturers to “re-acquire” customers every time. In addition, manufacturers usually do not have a direct connection to their consumers, as their products are sold through a channel. In these cases, the channel (retailer, distributor, etc.) owns the end-user relationship. Manufacturers also face channel conflict, as they must ensure that one channel partner is not getting better offers than other channel partners.

After the rebate: now what?
In the past, manufacturers relied heavily on rebates as a key part of their sales strategy. While rebates are often very effective in driving an initial purchase and acquiring a customer, manufacturers still face a challenge to remain top-of-mind with their customers even when the next purchase of their product might be months or years into the future. There are many effective ways to take the information gained from a rebate and use it to leverage a longer, more stable customer relationships.

The lifetime value concept
Many manufacturers are interested in hearing more about how YA can help in finding ways to take traditional promotion tactics such as rebates and adapt them to the unique constraints of their industries. We’ve been exploring ways to look beyond programs that drive a one-time spike in sales, and instead have found new avenues that begin to build on the concept of lifetime customer value.

Taking a page from the strategies I’d employed with transactional-based clients, I worked with my manufacturing clients to use YA promotional products as one bundled solution. These solutions are able to complement each other and build momentum in a concerted way, almost like the chapters in the longer story that is a customer-manufacturer relationship. This gives our clients the opportunity to differentiate themselves from others who continue to take the traditional approach.

How does it work?
For a durable goods manufacturer, the story might begin with a money-back rebate, delivered in the form of a prepaid card. That moment of receiving money back is a high point for the customer, so it makes sense to capitalize on that generated good will to make an “ask” for a cross-sell purchase of something from another product line, ask them to refer their friends or take the opportunity to teach them more about how to get the most from their purchase. Communication can continue for customers who opt-in to the dialog stream. It’s important to develop a workable cadence and to mix up the “sell” messages with those that are reward-based or purely informational. This approach still delivers an effective spike in sales, but the ongoing communication allows clients to get much more for that investment.

Keeping that customer lifetime communication cycle relevant and authentic is something we do very well here at YA. If you’d like to learn more about how YA can help you acquire new customers, retain the ones you have and encourage everyone to spread the word about your brand, please contact me to begin the conversation.

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