I’m excited to introduce the last finalist from the Dell/NFIB Small Business Excellence Award program. This company came up with a program that helps a small business compete in the same arena with large national retailing chains for customer loyalty. It’s a small business that is helping other small businesses be more competitive.
Interactive Marketing from Warrenton, Virginia, has been in business for eight years and is the developer of the Web-based Welcome Back Rewards customer loyalty solution which offers small companies access to affordable, easy-to-use customer loyalty programs. The company is now taking the technology to the next level with City Masterkey which allows small businesses to run both loyalty and cross-marketing programs.
If you think about it, almost any national chain retailer you visit today will have their own customer loyalty program (not to mention Web retailers, financial companies and more). But historically, the small local business has been hampered by cost and added complexity in offering a similar program. And yet, repeat customers are the best customers any business can ask for –they tend to outspend new customers and customer acquisition costs are expensive.
The basic technology of the Welcome Back Rewards program allows merchants to run the program off of their existing computers and Internet connections. Merchants scan a customer’s loyalty card at point of sale (generally through a bar code scanner) and are able to track customer activity and award points as rewards customers can use with future purchases. All transactions occur with the merchant and the merchant has complete access to customer data – there are no hardware, software or transaction fees for the merchant. And no employee training or major new purchases needed to start the program.
Eight years ago when Interactive Marketing introduced this for small retailers it was revolutionary for that market. And today, they are taking it to the next level with City Masterkey. The Masterkey works just as easily for small businesses but can also link merchants together in groups (for example, all of the downtown local retailers in a community), and allows them to offer consumers one card to use at all of the retailers and restaurants they like to visit.
That sort of group cooperation opens up tremendous cross-marketing opportunities for merchants, and it’s easier for consumers to manage one loyalty card they can use anywhere they like. Even better, the program ties in local charities to the program and a portion of the $5 fee consumers pay for the card is donated locally. To date the program has donated over $100,000 to charities including the Susan G. Komen Foundation – way to go!
Congratulations Interactive Marketing!