Start me up! Build customer loyalty like the Rolling Stones

Hold the old-guy jokes. The new movie Shine a Light, directed by Martin Scorsese, is a delight to watch. With perfect Dolby sound, high-quality digital picture, and the Rolling Stones at their finest, you will be smiling and dancing. This simply is the best you will ever see of Mick and the gang, complete with back-up musicians and singers to round out the sound. I'm hoping that they do a follow-up concert tour soon.

I saw them a couple of years ago when they did A Bigger Bang, which sold out in every city it played. The Stones simply have the most customer loyalty of any rock group in history (Grateful Dead excepted, of course. But then that's a lifestyle choice)

So how do the Stones do it? In a business that is known for "one-hit wonders" and "15 minutes of fame," how have they built the Rolling Stones into a brand that has lasted over 40 years? Here are some of the Stones strategies that can provide an idea or two for your business. The Stones:

  • Build a fan club. The best way (and in some cities the only way) to get tickets is to be a member of their fan club. Anyone can join online for $100, and the Stones then have the names, addresses and e-mails of potential buyers. Would a fan club, winners circle, preferred status, work with your customers? People love to feel special. Offer special scheduling to frequent clients, discounts to repeaters and bonuses for continued loyalty.

    • Offer first tickets to fan club members. One advantage of being a club member is that you receive a code to buy concert tickets before they go on sale to the general public. You not only avoid the hassle of fighting for tickets, they are at a substantial savings (our tickets were $60). How can you eliminate some of the frustrations that your customers encounter? Evaluate your phone system and make sure that you are maximizing your internet access for the convenience of your customers.
    • Ask ticket holders for their requests. About a month before the concert, I received an e-mail from The Stones asking my input into their song list. My input? I've been to hundreds of concerts and have never been asked what I would like to hear. Some artists even act like they are doing you a favor to play at all. When was the last time you asked your customers what they wanted?
    • Play to the entire crowd. Halfway through the concert, the entire stage began to move on tracks while the band played. Rolling to the center of the auditorium, it locked into another stage complete with lights and ramps. Prancing around the "new" stage, Jagger played to every fan there. Make sure every one of your customers feel that special when they pay for your service.

    • Keep the energy and enthusiasm. One can only imagine how many times Mick Jagger has sung, "I Can't Get No Satisfaction;" certainly thousands of renditions. Yet, when he performed it as an encore there was so much energy that you would swear it was the premier performance. The entire band gave it everything they had for they know that people tend to remember entrances and exits. Evaluate carefully how you and your staff enter and exit each business transaction.

    • Stay in constant contact. The fan club notifies me about new concerts, reviews, gossip, and charitable activities. They make every effort to update the fans on what is happening. Brief and to the point, the e-mails are about what is important to the fans. The most effective businesses sell more than a product, they sell a lifestyle. (Think of Harley). How does your product or service enhance the lives of your customers?

    • Follow up with product sales. The Bradley Center reported that the Stones concert netted more in product sales than any other event. Know why? We all had to have a T-Shirt or souvenir of the event. People love to buy and the Stones make it easy to do.

    Oops, I have to go....I'm logging on to buy another Stones T-shirt.

    Barbara Bartlein is the People Pro. For her FREE e-mail newsletter, please visit: The People Pro.

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