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Cynthia Clark | April 18, 2013

Do One-Day Promotions Build Lasting Loyalty?

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promotions2.jpgNobody likes writing that check to Uncle Sam, making April 15 an unpopular day with workers across America. Last Monday several organizations tried to bring some cheer into taxpayers' day with a number of offers.

Across the nation, Arby's was giving away curly fries, while Cinnabon was offering two free bites. A list of offers featured on Forbes includes special tax day-themed cocktails, a New York restaurant that's picking the tax on diners' bills, and even special holiday packages.

But do these one-time promotions really work? According to Gary Edwards, chief customer officer at Empathica, these one-time deals are important to drive new customers or ones that have lapsed. However, they might not be as successful in building loyalty. "A mass marketing approach is not intended to build loyalty," he notes. If the goal is to build loyalty, Edwards argues, an offer will be restricted to customers who are already loyal to the brand as a way to reward them.

While one-day promotions, like the ones we saw on tax day, can get people into the door, unless companies are able to deal with the increased traffic and deliver a great experience, they can do more harm than good. "Unfortunately during high traffic times, the nuance elements of the experience that make customers like a brand can be missed," Edwards notes. This is especially true when companies underestimate the amount of foot traffic they'll get during the promotion day, leading to long waiting times or chaos at the store. Some companies might be tempted to hire additional workers who might not be trained in delivering the experience that customers expect. "For all their efforts, some companies miss out on the chance to showcase their company to customers in a way that will bring them back," Edwards says

For one-day promotions to be successful, organizations need to orchestrate the event and make sure that they are able to cater to an increase in customers and still be able to deliver a great customer experience. "Remain on-brand and really showcase what the organization has to offer," he notes.

Edwards says running shoe apparel stores have done a good job in delivering a great experience during one-day promotions, even though experts that are able to deliver a personalized experience to customers. "They don't just provide the product but also one-to-one expertise that's a benefit to the customer."

Getting customers in the door is only the first step. In today's competitive world, they will only come back if they get the experience they expected.

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