Pay for Attention
One of my earliest memories (as a kid in the 1970s) of a loyalty program is collecting Ramon Bonus stamps. After that, if my memory serves me right, I collected stamps from Akbarally’s from purchases made at their Fountain store in Mumbai. Both were early examples of programs that rewarded loyalty. In the past 50 or so years, we have seen an explosion of loyalty programs. All of these programs reward transactions. But none reward the two elements that are upstream of a transaction – attention and action.
For marketers to engage with their customers, attention and action are very important. As I wrote earlier, both are upstream of transactions. In the digital world, because every customer has a uniquely addressable identity (email ID or mobile number), it becomes possible to interact with each of them. If the brand imagery or habit doesn’t bring a customer back to a brand’s properties, the only other route is via push messages – sent by SMS, email, push notifications (on apps) or WhatsApp. For these messages to be effective, customers need to ‘pay attention.’
As we saw earlier, the sheer volume of incoming messages flooding the inboxes of customers has resulted in them (all of us) ignoring most such messages. The result is that this breaks the communications hotline for marketers – forcing them to resort to very expensive ads via Google and Facebook to win back the attention they have lost of the customers who were once theirs.
It is in this context that I have discussed the idea of Microns and Mu. Microns are messages with rewards, with Mu being the virtual currency that incentivises attention and action.
Microns delivered as email have additional benefits: they improve the reach and deliverability of email, thus solving two additional problems most email marketing programs face.
Microns and Mu are just one example of rewarding customers for their attention. The key is to remember the point I had made earlier: “To get customers to pay attention, pay for attention.” And the payment (in the form of rewards) should be made directly to customers. This innovation can go a long way in simplifying marketing by solidifying the relationship between brands and customers, which is what it should always have been.
By combining VRM (Velvet Rope Marketing) for Best customers and ARM (Attention Rewards Marketing), marketers can go a long way in correcting their folly of solely relying on intermediaries (media platforms, tech giants, and increasingly, marketplaces) and build 1:1 relationships with their customers.