There’s something special about belonging to a club. Whether it’s a club of kids on your block, a cheerleading squad, a collegiate fraternity or a professional organization, being in a club offers a shared experience that can’t happen any other way.
So if clubs are an ideal way of meeting like-minded individuals, exchanging ideas and gaining mutual benefit for all involved, why aren’t businesses embracing the sociological need to belong and treat their customers like special members of a club?
In “A Sense Of Belonging Can Reap Rewards,” author Mindi Chahal says that “brands are failing to leverage the power of treating people more like club members rather than just customers, according to research exclusive to Marketing Week.”
In fact, “people would rather brands treat them more like club members than customers,” she claims, “and there are long-term benefits from listening to what they have to say.”
The study, conducted by ICM Research, shows that people like being members of clubs, loyalty programs and institutions for several reasons. Not only does membership give them a sense of belonging and an opportunity to support something that is important to them, it also gives them an outlet to have their say in the direction or outcome of an organization.
Having influence is especially important to consumers who want products and services that meet their needs, and most customers feel they have little to no input when it comes to big brands, according to David Perry, associate director at ICM. “Brands could gain a lot from treating customers as members, giving them more than products and services and tapping into some of the emotional elements of membership, such as shared experiences, community and a chance to air opinions,” he says. “There is a real challenge to create a sense of warmth, of being open and transparent with customers, and it’s not just about saying that you do this but about showing in real ways that you are set up to listen.”
Receiving special offers, services and keeping up-to-date with information are why people have a membership linked to a brand, the study finds. However, according to Perry, those brands that can tap into emotional benefits rather than a transactional communication will achieve a “deeper, long-lasting relationship.”
One way to develop deeper relationships with your clients is through promotional products, and there are many ways to incorporate them into the lifecycle of a membership program.
- First, have a welcome gift for new club members. This could be anything from a t-shirt or tote bag to travel mug or business accessory.
- Next build gift intervals into the program. This could be in the form of anniversary gifts (which should increase in perceived value throughout the years). Or, if your club has levels (for every 5, 10, 20 purchases, for example, club members reach a new level), offer achievement gifts as incentive to level up.
- Use promotional merchandise to drive behavior. Want people to act fast on a special offer or new product? Offer a promotional gift with purchase for either all club members or perhaps the first 10, 25 or 50 purchasers depending on budget.
- Finally, use promotional products as thank-you gifts. Did a club member write a great review for your product, service or company? Send him or her a pen, notepad or even a small box of chocolates to show your appreciation.
However you decide to support your club, make sure the promotional products selected are meaningful to recipients, align with the club’s purpose and properly represent your brand. Want suggestions? We can help. Let’s talk about your goals. Book an appointment by clicking here or call us at 248-538-4700 today to learn how!