Implementation - case study

In this example we provide a brief case study of how the six elements involved in planning an implementation work in practice. This example is taken from a major UK computer company who wanted to set up a loyalty scheme for some of their key customers.

A major UK computer company had segmented their customers and identified a core group of customers who were very enthusiastic about the company's products. Strategically, this group were important in evangelising the company's products to other customers and were often the first to buy new products and upgrades.

A strategic decision was taken to target this group by providing a loyalty scheme aimed specifically at the enthusiast market.

Internal communication and buy in

The first stage in implementation was to communicate to others in the company that these enthusiasts existed and to identify the key people who needed to be involved in setting up the loyalty scheme. There was also a need for others to be informed so they could to ensure that any offers could be clearly differentiated or identified from other sales and marketing activity and to avoid cannibalisation.

Aligning structures and people

A project manager was appointed to take charge of the launch of the scheme, while recruitment was put in place to find a full-time manager for the loyalty scheme.

Other staff needed to be drawn into the project to develop the appropriate communication materials, to develop a suitable mechanism to identify members and to handle the sign-up and service elements of membership - for instance dealing with enquiries and taking and apportioning the membership fee as appropriate. The full-time manager would take responsibility for on-going development of newsletters and the like.

Developing new resources

The scheme needed branding, membership forms, advertising and a "loyalty pack" to be developed. An early decision had been to launch at a users exhibition, so appropriate display materials were needed and brightly coloured t-shirts were included in the loyalty pack so new members could easily identify themselves.

The exhibition also meant that space and materials had to be available at the show to allow the loyalty packs to be handed over immediately.

Because of the nature of the audience a number of specialist articles were also written by key people in the product and development teams providing an insight into the company and its future ideas and developments.

Implementing appropriate systems and processes

In the back office, members needed to be identified which meant that forms had to be processed, a membership number allocated and a unique membership card needed to be created for each member and then sent out.

An internal mechanism for processing membership enquiries after the show was also needed to ensure a speedy turn around.

This all had to sit on a database with appropriate mechanisms for change of address and identifying people for mailing purposes to send future newsletters and to target offers.

As the scheme needed to be available at the exhibition, a system of taking and recording cash and credit card payments was needed at the show which needed to be manned full-time.

Working through the communication to the market

The scheme was communicated through a series of PR releases to appropriate magazines supported by advertising and promotion on the Internet. The scheme was to be launched at the exhibition so this was also considered another mechanism to get people to the show, so no early orders were taken.

Once the exhibition was over, adverts continued in the appropriate magazines, but there was already large amounts of news and comment on the company's newsgroups.

Specialist members of the channel were invited to take part and support the scheme and were provided with material for their websites and shop fronts, whilst they also contributed materials and offers to the launch pack.

Monitoring and review

Early monitoring was carried out by counting numbers of members and from feedback generated on the company's newsgroups. The scheme proved such as success at the exhibition that there were continual queues to sign up, and one early lesson was that additional staff were needed to handle the sign up process.

After the exhibition numbers grew steadily and were vastly helped with the arrival of a full-time manager for the scheme who could devote more time to generating materials and responding and meeting with members.

The scheme became an important way of differentiating a specialist audience from mainstream customers and monitoring showed that members of this group made up a substantial number of early adopters for the company's products.