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Redefining the concept of loyalty

Friday, 3 February 2012 | By Michelle Hammond

Creating a new concept in any industry is no mean feat, but when you’re operating in a highly competitive market such as customer loyalty programs, the stakes are even higher.

 

After marketing creative Dave Aicken developed his platform, he knew he’d rushed into things. Fortunately, he realised his mistakes and made amends.

 

Aicken is the founder of Centryc Solutions, a Sydney-based business providing real-time digital marketing to the likes of Luna Park Sydney, Smirnoff and Southern Cross Austereo.

 

Centryc’s campaign for Luna Park, titled My Experience, recently won an award from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.

 

The company also qualified for the Collaborative Solutions – Mobile Concierge program, run by NSW Trade & Investment, and picked up an award at technology innovation event Tech23.

 

However, it’s been an arduous journey for Centryc, which initially set out to create a new kind of loyalty card. It wasn’t until Centryc built its platform that it realised it was flawed.

 

“I built this system off a desire to market to people on a one-to-one basis” Aicken says.

 

“I originally set it up a couple of years ago as a mobile loyalty program. That was the idea I had, thinking about loyalty and getting away from physical loyalty cards.”

 

“I hung the whole thing off a mobile concept, thinking people’s mobile numbers are a good way to get in touch with people.”

 

“The mistake at the time was to think that by focusing on one channel, I could cover lots of different channels, and I didn’t appreciate how broad I needed to be.”

 

Aicken says one of the reasons for this oversight was the appointment of a tech expert to help build the platform, with no input from a marketing professional.

 

“We needed a whole bunch of experts in different fields to bring this thing together,” he says.

 

“It was a major change of direction for us. Mobile is still a really strong part for us but it’s just one channel, not the channel.”

 

The platform is now spread across multiple channels including MMS, email, Facebook and Twitter. But it didn’t stop there, with Centryc deciding to redefine the concept of loyalty.

 

“We rethought the concept of loyalty because a customer’s loyalty to a brand is quite limiting. Customer loyalty is a by-product of brands that are loyal to their customers,” Aicken says.

 

“We thought, let’s work out how brands can show customers they care. What’s the experience or value a brand can provide to their customers?”

 

“That’s how we fell into theme parks and attractions – it’s an experience.”

 

“We thought, what can we do for the brand and make them a better service so customers do their marketing for them? [We realised we needed to] turn customers into advocates.”

 

“For example, a customer might go on a ride, post a photo on Facebook afterwards and start getting comments back, which draws attention to the ride itself.”

 

Centryc now employs seven full-time equivalents and is looking to hire another three. The company has received enquiries from Mexico, the United States, Asia, Europe and South Africa.

 

“We’re hoping to move to around $4 million this year, then with a fair growth curve for the next three or so years following that. It’s a company we’re building to be acquired,” Aicken says.

 

“It’s only through the strength of our partners we’ve been able to progress our business the way that we have.”

 

“Pitney Bowes, which is a Fortune 500 company, is presenting the Centryc platform globally. These channels have been very valuable over the years.”

 

“Things are running very, very fast at the moment. I couldn’t be happier… Going from a narrow focus to a big picture approach has done amazing things for us.”