#1: Let's Talk Loyalty

An introduction to your show host – Paula Thomas and a background to the show. Designed exclusively for loyalty marketing professionals, this episode introduces some of the key people in the industry as well as the main media publications for loyalty marketing professionals.

Show Notes:

Paula Thomas

Audio Transcript

Welcome to Let's Talk Loyalty, an industry podcast for loyalty marketing professionals. I'm your host, Paula Thomas. If you work in loyalty marketing, join me every week to learn the latest ideas from loyalty specialists around the world. Hello and welcome to this episode of Let's Talk Loyalty. This is the very first episode of the show, and it's the result of many months of thinking about how I can make a useful contribution to this industry that I love. So, for those of you who don't know me yet, my name is Paula. I'm Irish, and I live most of the year in Dubai. I'm also lucky enough to travel extensively throughout the year, so I'm actually recording this first episode in Bali, Indonesia. One of the main benefits of my global travels is that I love to be around people with a global mindset. Dubai is the cliched melting pot of nationalities, so I find it fascinating to hear how loyalty programs differ in each market. My plan is to interview guests from all over the world who I think offer truly global perspectives. This is the only episode that I plan to just talk by myself, and in this first month, my guests come from Ireland, the UK, and from Dubai itself. I plan to continue this fascinating mix of interviewing the world's best loyalty marketers all over the world. Professionally, I've been a marketer for most of my career, originally working in e-commerce and digital marketing almost 20 years ago, which gave me a real passion for innovation. There are a number of reasons why I feel qualified to talk about excellence in loyalty programs. While my role on this show is to bring you access to some of the greatest minds in the business, it's useful to also establish my own credentials. In terms of education, I didn't initially attend university when I left school in Ireland. However, I did go back about 10 years ago and complete an MBA, or Master's in Business Administration. I've continued my education throughout my career as well, as I do love learning, and the most relevant qualification I took on was just last year, and that's the leading qualification in loyalty, when I decided to study with the Loyalty Academy, based in the United States, so I'm delighted to also be able to call myself a certified loyalty marketing professional. Of course, we all know that education doesn't guarantee expertise, so as well as my studies, I've actually been running programs on a consultancy basis for about nine years now. I certainly know I have way more than 10,000 hours of expertise, which Malcolm Gladwell famously estimates is the minimum criteria that people need to become world-class in any skill. Between my studies and client projects, what I've learned is how important, powerful, and commercially rewarding it is when you have loyal customers. And it's the reason I love this industry and why I continue to work in it. Enough about me. Let me talk about the show and why I'm doing it. Even before I start that, my intention is to launch each and every show, asking my guests about their favorite statistics about our industry. So, it's only appropriate that I start with my own favorite story. It's about an article I read in 2017 about Qantas Airways, in which they talked about its wildly popular frequent flyer program. At the time of the article, it was already the airline's only unit reporting consecutive earnings growth, and it was projecting profits of $600 million in 2022. The loyalty unit is three times as profitable as the international aviation business, and almost twice as lucrative as the domestic division. The estimates are that by 2020, the loyalty division will be Qantas Airways' biggest contributor to profit. What an amazing success story. Now, back to the show. I've already mentioned that I love both innovation and continuous learning. So, I'm constantly looking for ways to stay in touch with our industry. Of course, I love receiving our industry email newsletters, but I don't always find the time to read everything that I want to. Even when it comes to reading books, I never get through the pile of what I want to read. So I noticed in this last year I've been listening to both audiobooks and podcasts, and I find it a really easy and enjoyable way to learn. It will never replace reading, but I know that, like me, there are loads of business professionals around the world who love the idea of using their time in the mornings or maybe while driving to or from work to stay up on the latest industry news. As a separate reason for the show, from a purely selfish perspective, I also love having direct access to amazing industry professionals, and this show is one way I can do that. My favorite marketer, Seth Godin, described inviting guests on your podcast as the business equivalent to hosting the coolest party in town. So welcome to my party. In terms of content, in each episode, I'll be interviewing somebody in the industry and finding out their approach to creating, running, and optimizing their programs. A recent report estimated that our industry is actually spending over $323 billion on loyalty programs. So clearly, the more knowledge we share, the better we can ensure that those investments are all worthwhile. Genuinely, the intention of the show is to create real value for you listeners. I'll be asking loads of questions to pull out the most interesting learnings, especially what are the biggest internal and external challenges that people are facing and what we can learn from their experiences. And I suppose as well as access to shared global expertise, I'm really hoping we can create a sense of connection between all of us in the global loyalty community. And I think and hope that'll happen over time as we build the show. Now I've explained the values and intention for the show. So, what I want to finally do in this short introductory episode is to acknowledge everyone who in some way inspired me or supported me in getting started. And I want to mention those leaders of the industry who've inspired me. My initial industry inspiration came from Anish Macintosh and Maxine Wernick from Loyalty Magazine, which is a UK-based magazine about loyalty marketing and is produced and available both online and offline. As well as the magazine they publish, they also run a fantastic industry conference called the Loyalty Surgery, which was the first industry event I ever went to five or six years ago. And I highly recommend attending. This year, it's happening in Central London on October 16th and 17th and includes a brilliant lineup of loyalty managers from brands such as Virgin, Vodafone, Shell Worldwide, and Sky TV. The third thing they do for our industry is the Loyalty Magazine Awards Program, which truly showcases the best loyalty programs globally, whether they are newly launched or long-standing ones that have stood the test of time. I'm extremely proud to be one of the extensive lineups of industry experts who put our time and effort into helping them judge the awards. I learn a huge amount, so while it is a lot of work, it's also incredibly rewarding work to do. And then, every year, we're invited to celebrate the best loyalty programs at a gorgeous formal event in London. Anish and Maxine are incredibly dedicated to our industry, and I share their goal of consistently sharing knowledge to drive the industry forward. And I hope everyone listening checks out Loyalty Magazine, the Loyalty Magazine Awards, and, of course, the Loyalty Surgery. The second industry partnership I want to celebrate and make sure anyone listening is aware of is the incredible work being done by The Wise Marketeer and The Loyalty Academy, both headquartered in Florida. The Wise Marketeer is run by Bill Hanifin, Mike Giambatista, and Mike Capizzi, who are all well-known and respected in the industry and are great guys to work with. The Wise Marketer itself is an online magazine, and it describes itself as the global voice of customer loyalty, and I certainly look forward to reading their articles every week. They also run some great webinars with lots of interesting topics, so I highly recommend checking them out. And then their flagship product is the highly respected industry qualification, and it's the only one that I'm aware of that really teaches loyalty theory strategy. It was developed with the guys in the Wise Marketeer, as well as Graham Thompson, Richard Dutton, and Margaret Moreau, and I know there were lots of other people involved in setting it up too, but for now, I wanted to make sure that if you're listening and looking to learn about loyalty theory, you can study like me to become a certified loyalty marketing professional as I did last year. I also want to mention a professional network I'm a member of. We call it the Customer Strategy Network, and it includes some of the top freelance loyalty experts from all over the world. We work together under one membership organization so that we can help each other out on projects as appropriate, particularly for our global clients who may need hands-on support in several countries. Between us, we have consultants in North America, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. So do check out the customerstrategynetwork.com if you want to find out more. One final acknowledgment is a company I currently work with who have developed a fantastic software platform that runs the best loyalty programs in convenience retail. Their website is where I publish my own written articles every week. So if you're interested in that industry, there are now over 70 articles where I've researched and written about the best loyalty programs in convenience retail. You can read all of those on liquidbarcodes.com in the resources and articles section. That's it for now in terms of the world of loyalty as I know it. This first episode is simply designed to let me get started, and also ensures that I just share those thoughts on recognizing key people and the best resources in our industry. Thank you so much for listening. Coming up in September, I have three fantastic guests. First, I have Mike Atkin, affectionately known in the industry as the loyalty guru. Mike has built or supported over 65 loyalty programs in his career to date, as well as delivering lectures on loyalty all over the world. He's certainly the man I call when I need new ideas or insights. Later in the month, I'll be speaking with two loyalty practitioners. First, Siobhán Lynch, who is the loyalty manager for 3 Plus in Ireland. Their program won the Best Loyalty Program in Ireland as part of the All Ireland Marketing Awards. I'll also be talking to Manav Fernandes, who led the development of a loyalty program in the education sector in Dubai called GEMS Rewards. Manav will share how he built and managed to win the award for the Best Loyalty Program in the Middle East and Asia and why it's proven to be so important to the business, given how intensely competitive the education sector is in our country. That's it for now. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Let's Talk Loyalty. If you'd like me to send you the latest show each week, simply sign up for the show newsletter on letstalkloyalty.com, and I'll send you the latest episode to your inbox every Thursday. Alternatively, head to your favorite podcast platform, find Let's Talk Loyalty, and subscribe. I'd love your feedback and reviews. Thanks again for supporting the show.