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​Have you ever opened a magazine you subscribe to and watched a BRC fall out that offered a deep discount (much less than you paid) "for new subscribers only."

Yeah, we have too. And, it stinks.

Here you are a loyal subscriber for however many years and you're paying twice what they're charging some Johnny-come-lately. It isn't fair. 

Loyal customers want to feel appreciated. They want to be rewarded for their loyalty. And, as marketers, we need to understand that. But as responsible businesspeople, we also don't want to leave revenue on the table. 

Here's an example ...

The Queen B has purchased tickets to the Boston Ballet's Nutcracker for more than thirty years. She typically buys three orchestra seats for about $125 or so apiece. Presumably the marketing people at Boston Ballet know this. In fact, they'd like her to become an even better customer and often send her direct mail promoting their full-season subscriptions, along with fundraising solicitations.

For the past three years, however, they've also sent her offers for half-price Nutcracker tickets. So, she buys the same seats she has always bought, but she pays $62.50 for each of them rather than $125. 

Trust us, she's not complaining. Saving $187.50 at any time, but especially during the holidays, is certainly a reason to celebrate. However, she would have bought them anyway (and their customer data should tell them this) — at full-price. The Boston Ballet, notoriously underfunded, just lost nearly $200 in revenue.

Not only that, but the Queen B is now conditioned to wait for a half-price offer.

In this example, it would have been better to demonstrate their appreciation with something that cost them much less. Like a complimentary Nutcracker Christmas ornament or a free CD of Tchaikovsky's beautiful score. What about a backstage tour or a photo with members of the cast? These are things that would make the Queen B feel special, like a much appreciated VIP. But, they would cost little or nothing while the Boston Ballet still generated the full $375 they used to earn from this long-time customer each and every year.

There are many ways to demonstrate appreciation. By thinking personal and exclusive, rather than discount, marketers can retain their most loyal customers without cannibalizing revenue.

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