Ghosts, Goblins and the Fear of Over Rewarding


This time of year is a celebration of all things scary; from primal fears like darkness and creepy crawlers, to more theatrical fears like haunted houses or a zombie apocalypse. In the spirit of Halloween, we’re here to discuss the fear of giving away too much and “losing the farm.” In other words, the fear of over rewarding.

There are several reasons why business owners may be afraid of a rewards program. What if the bottom line is negatively affected or the program attracts customers who have no intention of making a repeat visit?

These fears are rooted in the business owner’s desire to see their businesses thrive, reward the right customers and keep operations running smoothly. While certain phobias require years of therapy, we recommend the following steps to overcome the fear of rewarding:

1) Think Big Picture: Assess how much you are actually spending on the rewards you are giving away. If you are squeamish about giving away rewards to begin with, it’s easy to mentally overestimate the costs. Don’t forget to calculate the money your reward-redeemers are spending past the cost of the reward/discount you offered! While rewards programs vary, we have found that our merchants’ loyalty program users spend 20-30% more per check.

2) Assess who you are spending that money on: Are your promotions primarily focused on attracting new customers (shift), or incentivizing 3rd and 4th visits from existing customers (lift)?

If you don’t have a focus- get one! It costs a lot more to acquire new customers than to farm business out of existing ones; plus 80% of most businesses’ revenue comes from 20% of their loyal customers. Focusing on new customer acquisition is riskier and more expensive. Don’t underestimate the value of rewarding loyal customers! Do this well, and they may generate shift for you.

3) Determine your budget: Know what you are willing to spend on customer rewards and stay within those boundaries. Remember that offering unattractive rewards/promotions because they are inexpensive is not helping you in the long run. It’s better to offer a limited number of great rewards (generating exclusivity) than to offer a plethora of rewards nobody cares about. Your rewards represent your brand: choose to be exciting and generous or exclusive rather than cheap and unimaginative.

Offering rewards your loyal customers care about goes a long way in developing an emotional connection to your brand. It’s the difference between making your customers feel appreciated, or making them feel lazily “sold.” Many businesses offer rewards programs, but only a small portion of these programs truly make customers feel valued by the brand. A quality rewards program can build a robust, loyal customer base and drive enough repeat revenue to more than pay for itself.

Fear is based on a lack of understanding. In this case, not understanding could be causing you to miss out on engaging with your customers and the long term payout of having made that investment.


Sabres Launch Fan Loyalty Program



BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The blue and gold want to reward fans who stick it out through the good and the bad.

The Buffalo Sabres are launching Sabres Fan Advantage, a mobile application-based loyalty program that will allow fans to earn points toward tickets and team merchandise and take part in “exclusive fan experiences,” such as player meet-and-greets.

Participating fans can earn points by scanning codes on tickets or receipts from merchandise and concessions purchased in First Niagara Center. Fans at home can take part by entering keywords announced during Sabres games on MSG.

The program is available as a free download for anyone with a smart phone with IOS or Android operating system.

The 2014-15 Sabres Fan Advantage season runs from Thursday through June 30.

More information, including a video tutorial, can be found at

The Sabres (1-3) return to First Niagara Center to take on the Florida Panthers (0-2) Friday night at 7 p.m.

Three Ways to Get More Out of Your Fall Promotions


Fall is a great time for promotions. Leaves are changing, school is back in session and customers are on the hunt for fun things to do before the brutal chill of winter sets in. Autumn months are filled with obscure holidays and extra activities to satisfy the summer void. As a business owner, you may be planning ways to harvest that added momentum. Here are three tips for making this fall a profitable and memorable season for your business.

  1. Pay Attention to Current Events. Within one week in September the newest season of The Voice premiered (22nd), we said goodbye to summer on the first official day of fall (23rd), and International Coffee Day stormed Twitter and social media (29th). If you didn’t promote something special for at least one of those things, you probably missed out on some extra business. Between professional sports, miscellaneous holidays, and the goings-on of Hollywood, there’s no reason to have a boring month. Find something fun, find a way to celebrate it, and promote the heck out of it.
  2. Show Favoritism. Have a weekly open mic night or an end of summer party in the works? Promoting special events to the general public is a great way to get new feet through the door. However, offering exclusive deals/benefits to people who are “in the know” is how you’ll ultimately generate repeat business. Heighten the effect of your existing special events by incorporating special value adds for your loyal customers.
  3. Be Able to Evaluate Success. There’s no benefit to having a test if there isn’t a system in place for scoring. It’s a great idea to “test” different kinds of deals and promotions, but you should decide ahead of time what the goal is and how you’ll determine whether or not you’ve reached it. Whether you’re aiming to move a certain product, increase revenue on a slow night, gain social media followers, or make your presence known to a wider audience, be sure your whole team knows the goal for your event and has the tools they need to help you be successful.

Pay attention, show favoritism and evaluate success. May your harvest be bountiful!

Mobile Platform for Pittsburgh Penguin’s PensPoints Loyalty Program Triggers Big Success

Originally published on August 6th, 2014 by Jim Tierney of Loyalty360. See original post here.


When the Pittsburgh Penguins launched its fan loyalty program–PensPoints–in February 2013, it marked the first mobile app-based rewards program to surface in professional sports. With a big assist from technology developer LoyalTree–which helped facilitate the integration in CONSOL Energy Center (home of the Penguins) with LoyalTree lead developers Ray Chan and Shriya Joag−PensPoints was poised for success.

David Peart, Senior VP of Sales and Service for the Penguins, told Loyalty360 that there were some anxious moments before the program launch 18 months ago, but those subsided after rapid engagement and program member adoption.

Peart said the PensPoints program currently has about 90,000 members. “It’s grown steadily since we introduced it,” Peart said. “Members have maintained the same sort of activity as far as engagement levels since we launched the program. We are absolutely surprised at the adoption rate, the number of members, and this sort of fan engagement.”

Working with LoyalTree has been a phenomenal experience, Peart said. “We’re also surprised from a technology standpoint because of the amazing flexibility of this mobile platform, how much it’s been adopted internally within our organization, and how proactive LoyalTree has been,” he said.” Peart said the Penguins’ staff, coupled with LoyalTree, has combined to become such a forward-thinking, progressive new media and marketing group that is always abreast of the latest technological advances.

Last month, Peart was honored by The Sports and Entertainment Alliance in Technology with the InStadium Experience in Innovation award for sponsorship sales connected to the PensPoints loyalty program. The awards cited team executives in the U.S. and Canada who find new ways to leverage technology, new media, and data to drive long-term team value for their sports franchise. “Anytime you’re a pilot program or trying something for the first time, especially from the technological standpoint, there will always be a little bit of hesitancy,” Peart explained. “A lot of this was trial and error for us. As an organization, it (the award) validates all the hard work of the media group and the marketing group related to a willingness to adopt new technology.”

Since PensPoints was the first mobile app-based loyalty program in professional sports, some important lessons have been learned by the Penguins and other professional sports franchises looking to follow suit. “What it says to other teams is there are ways to use technology in this space,” Peart explained. “As an organization, we try to embrace and look for opportunities to use technology and be innovative with technology to solve problems from a business perspective.”

LoyalTree doesn’t require businesses to buy any additional hardware to run the program, and builds custom-fit solutions that allow for a seamless adoption of the program for staff members. PensPoints, which is run through users’ smartphones and uses QR codes, rewards people for things such as attending games, listening to games on the radio, and purchasing concession food and merchandise. If the code is scanned by a generic QR code reader, then it will automatically link the user to buttons to download the PensPoints application for Android or iPhone.

Once the codes are scanned using the PensPoints scanner, then the application interface informs the consumer exactly what they are doing through messaging and interface animations. Fans scan special codes in the app to collect PensPoints–and the program is free to join. Every time a fan earns 100 PensPoints, a new reward voucher is automatically mailed to his or her home. Vouchers can be redeemed throughout Pittsburgh. Special codes are given when PensPoints are earned. Codes will appear in places such as IceTime magazine, on sales receipts, or can be heard over the radio.

Peart said the use of the mobile platform, in and of itself, was the most innovative aspect of the PensPoints loyalty program. “It afforded us the ability to see that this was scalable for multiple applications, not just for admission, but also concessions, and we do retail traffic driving promotions, and watch parties where members can collect points,” he explained. “The mobile platform really makes this very present and always available.” In the past 18 months, Peart said, his staff has learned a considerable amount about the rewards side of the program. “We’ve been able to streamline that and deliver more compelling rewards,” he said. “The gamification aspect of this loyalty program has put it off the charts as far as activity level.”