Why Loyalty is the Best Form of Acquisition

Sean Claessen

All of Marketing is caught up in ‪#CannesLions —but what’s the celebration really about? When we say that ‘All Marketing is Loyalty’—we mean it. Every step in the loyalty lifecycle that begins with acquisition and *must* continue in the form of an ongoing relationship, are equally important. Brands who do well by their loyal customers, offering them new and innovative experiences, are more profitably succeeding - if those experiences are good, they will tell others for you. We see this ideal in the submissions for this year’s Direct Lions and we are offered a close up look at what triggers bonding with a brand beyond the monetary.


Grand Prix Experience

In a weird way, loyalty is the best form of acquisition. While the marketing industry is involved in an arms race of distraction to acquire new customer ‎attention, others who are offering non-monetary rewards that are engaging their customers are getting ahead. Take for example British Airways “The Magic of Flying”, a Grand Prix winner of a Lion at this year’s festival in Cannes, and their attention-grabbing campaign. Granted, the combination of personalization with the flight data from oncoming planes and the perfect timing of that information being displayed for all to see created a magical experience that spurred sharing. Sure, this worked well as a large scale OOH campaign because it is novel and innovative (for billboards). Alas, it was still in the form of advertising. Imagine if the same energy went into creating that kind of magic for existing customers—who we know account for the lion-share (pun intended) of all revenue. Why are we so hell-bent on outspending each other in acquisition, when we know it’s far more profitable to keep a customer than to go find a new one?




Red Carpet Treatment 

Another interesting example of a brand doing direct marketing in an interesting and high touch way is Audi and their “Test Drive Cube” for the launch of the A8, which was on the Cannes Direct shortlist. This campaign did an excellent job of fusing luxury and experiential marketing to create a highly exclusive event with response rate of 100%. That means that every customer who received a cube activated it and within 90 minutes got to test drive the A8 for twenty four hours. Not only did Audi deliver on their 90 minute deadline but they delivered on their brand promise in a big way—with their existing customers first. You can see this in their impressive conversion rate of 19%, where customer test driving the A8 purchased it directly after—in many cases, the exact model they drove. I think loyal customers receive that attention well and aside from the outstanding direct conversion of the campaign, the word of mouth among qualified prospects is likely having even greater impact. 


Deliver More than Your Message

  • Cultivate a social app or community that counts down to an event with incentives for participating and spreading the word.
  • Treat your customers to an exclusive event that aligns with your brand and offers new ways to participate with the products they love.
  • Create an exciting opportunity for a select group of your top customers to be the first to experience a new product or service.
  • Allow for customers to customize their experience and give you feedback on the services and products you offer.


Instead of investing in known customers, too much money is still being squandered on acquisition. As Joseph Jaffe would characterize, spending on ‘strangers and prostitutes’—that is, people who you don’t know or who will love you for a dollar (or the next best offer). Yeah, it’s sexy to celebrate advertising on the coast of France, but I find it far sexier to celebrate business growth, through the bonds we create with customers—not the bumps in attention that are a loveless lure in the love-em-and-leave-em world of advertising.


Sean Claessen
VP, Creative & Strategy