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BizReport : Loyalty Marketing : January 13, 2012

How reward programs can impact SMBs

Small businesses are looking for better ways to compete, especially in the online space where consumers aren't necessarily looking for a big-name-brand - they're looking for the right price. One way to engage consumers and keep them engaged is through a rewards program, a big brand tactic that small businesses should think about incorporating, says one expert.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: We're just beginning 2012, do you believe rewards programs still have a place in commerce?

Doug Hardman, SparkBase CEO: I think it's becoming more apparent than ever that merchants need to pay attention to the people in their stores. A few years ago, rewards programs were the rage in big-box stores, but smaller merchants didn't follow suit, and I think one thing that needs to change is that because consumers are willing to shop locally, these smaller merchants need to create rewards programs.

Kristina: Large brands have successful reward/loyalty programs, what can small brands/businesses do to compete with big chains?

Doug: What I tell merchants is that the first call needs to be to the credit card processor or the bank because they may have a platform that can easily be integrated and used. You can be up and running in a few days with a program which can then quantify how rewards are being earned and used. The second call needs to be to merchants in your area to talk about programs they're using and how they're finding success.

Kristina: What is the key to a successful rewards program?

Doug: We see time and time again overzealous merchants who change their programs constantly. You have to build the program and then let it percolate - you can make small adjustments but you can't make huge changes week after week because the customers won't follow or engage with that. You need to first establish the program and then make tweaks.

More from Doug on Monday - including his top three tips for small business reward programs.

Tags: loyalty marketing, loyalty programs, reward program tips, SMB reward program, SparkBase

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