So it's March, and I've just about now recovered from my jealousy at not getting a Christmas present from Taylor Swift. I've always liked the country-gone-pop star, but nothing made me love her more - or wish I'd been better about tweeting my love CONSTANTLY - than watching her surprise her fans with personal (and in one case personally delivered) Christmas gifts.
If you're a brand/brand marketer, you want me - and everyone - feeling that way about YOU. Which means digging deep and doing the work, just like T-Swift did.
In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, here's the recap: after a wildly successful year (does Swift know any other kind?), the singer/songwriter wanted to give back to the fans who helped make it so. But instead of just sending out a bunch of computer-generated Christmas cards, or something equally generic, Taylor took "Swiftmas" to a new stratosphere.
According to the video she shared (which went viral, shocker) chronicling her efforts and their results, her data collection was affectionately called "'Tay-lurking,' whereupon every detail of a fan's likes, job, whereabouts was studied intently... A single Santa emoji would appear on their socials. From one Taylor Swift." From there, Fedex boxes began arriving at the homes of emoji-marked fans, containing gifts from Swift that were personalized beyond all expectation:
- Hand wrapped, bubble-wrapped, and packed
- Accompanied by hand-written cards (not just quick notes either, but both sides of the cards' interiors filled with Swift's thanks and love)
- Personal-to-each-fan gifts chosen by Swift using data gleaned from their Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, etc. accounts
The video montage of Taylor shooing her cats off of gifts and wrapping supplies, and of fans breaking down in tears reading her thoughtful cards, should come across as self-serving (no good deed goes unpublicized), but instead it comes off as adorable and generous, making you want to keep in better touch.
If you're thinking that it's fine for Taylor Swift to do such a thing, and that your brand couldn't possibly - you're wrong. You not only can, you MUST. Because this is what marketing is about in the social age, and anything less than personal, individual, and human will wall flat.
You want you some o' that
Can you imagine how devoted the fans who received gifts will be - forever? Social testimonials by thrilled followers, check. Can you imagine how hard anyone who didn't receive a gift will try to receive one by sharing socially in the hopes of catching Swift's favor next holiday season? Social advocacy, incentivized - check.
Swift basically won social marketing and relationship management in one fell swoop - and she set the bar for other marketers to follow.
Here's how deep Swift's brilliance goes:
- All along the singer has engaged her fans on social media, being personable and accessible, courting fans and encouraging their brand advocacy
- She used that engagement to glean insights into her fans - finding out who they are and what they love (besides her)
- She acted on those insights by using them to inform gift purchases, surprising the most devoted super-fans with individual rewards that thanked them for helping her have such a successful year
For the cherry on top she offered social proof in the form of a video - proof that she cares, and proof that she acknowledges that her fans care as well.
It's exactly what brands are supposed to be doing - what PunchTab breaks down as "connect, understand, act."
"Too many brands think that connecting alone is enough, or that connecting and acting is enough," says PunchTab's Vice President of Communications and PR, Robyn Hannah. "They miss the most important part of the equation, which is truly understanding their customers. It's the understanding - the insights those connections bring - that should be inspiring the action phase, allowing for those actions and rewards to be personalized to the individual consumer. Otherwise they're just selfishly adding to the noise."
Loyalty is a journey, not a destination
Taylor Swift's marketing lesson clarifies what loyalty programs should be: not just an invasion of privacy for sake of a few more sales, or a mystical influx of points toward nothing special, but an individualized interactive experience, where customers are left feeling so blown away they'd never consider leaving.
But it takes time - as in marathon vs. sprint. How long has Swift been engaging with fans? All along. This particular campaign may have been huge, but it's the result of years of interaction and getting to know the people who follow her career.
That's what brands need to take to heart. Loyalty isn't about the immediate fix, or points, or discounts. It's about people. The people who take the time to shop your brand and interact on social - even if they've got a complaint.
Focus on the people, get the help of a solid consumer management platform to help you manage the details, and you too can be the next Taylor Swift. Which in this case is a very good thing.
Has a company ever blown you away with an amazing show of gratitude for your loyalty? Tell me about it!