How To Create Your Own Membership Program
Repeat customers are important for most businesses. After all, it’s cheaper and easier to market to returning customers than it is to get new ones, but keeping your customers coming back can be a big challenge. That’s where a membership card program can come in.
These programs are an easy way to remind customers to come back and to reward them when they do. No matter what industry you’re in, your business can likely benefit from setting up membership rewards for your customers.
What is a membership program?
If you’ve ever gone to a restaurant, café, or store and gotten a small card that offers discounts on repeat visits, you’ve gotten a membership card! Sometimes these are called loyalty or rewards programs, and they offer incentives to customers to keep coming back and patronizing your business.
There are many different ways to structure a membership program:
- After a certain number of visits, the customer gets a free product or service.
- You can offer small discounts (think 5 to 10% off) when a customer presents their membership card.
- Customers can accumulate points when they make purchases or book services and can redeem those points for rewards.
There are other incentives you can build into your rewards program too, like creating different levels of membership based on the amount a customer spends with you.
Benefits of Membership Programs
While giving discounts, products, or services out “for free” might sound counterintuitive, businesses who implement these programs tend to see great returns on their investment. After all, to get their incentive, your customers will have to spend more with you; the more they spend, the more they receive in return.
Membership programs can increase customer engagement and retention. They can also improve customers’ perception of your business because it shows that you truly appreciate your customers and want to reward them for their loyalty.
Customers are often more likely to patronize a business where they will be rewarded for repeat visits. These repeat visits lead to revenue growth, and as word of your membership program spreads, the number of your customers will too!
How to Start a Membership Program
You can’t just start a membership program overnight, but it is easier than you might think! You simply need a structure that works for your business, you need a way for customers to become members (and prove that they are members), and you need to market the program. The more members your program has, the easier each of these steps will become!
Decide what kind of program you want to offer.
It’s important that your program will benefit both your business and the customer. You can’t make the rewards too big, or it may not be worth the investment. But you can’t make the rewards too small, or customers won’t bother signing up. (Remember, you can always increase rewards later; it’s harder to decrease rewards without pushback from customers.)
Most people are always looking to save money, so offering a free product or service or an additional discount is a great way to entice customers to sign up.
Remember to keep your program simple. It should be easy for customers to understand and for you and your employees to implement and explain. Try to avoid “fine print rules” or overly complicated point structures.
Decide how you want to implement your membership program.
There are a few common ways of implementing a loyalty program, all of which have their own strengths.
An email opt-in allows you to communicate with your customer when they aren’t even in the store; in addition to sharing exclusive discounts with members, you can announce sales and new services or products to bring them into your store. An email newsletter program is fairly easy to implement: You just need to take their information at check-out. Keep in mind, though, that this will require you to spend time designing, writing, and sending regular emails.
A mobile app is another technology-forward choice that lets you collect and organize customer data, which can be useful as you design your new products and services. Additionally, members will only need their phone to be a part of the club. However, a specialized app can involve a lot of time and investment in design and technology, which you may not want to spend. Some customers won’t want to download an app just for your company, though, so you may have pushback from potential members.
A scannable card is a great compromise between the technology of email and apps and the more traditional punch card. You’re able to collect customer data when they sign up and it’s easy to scan at check out. You will, however, need to invest in a scanner and a computer program to utilize these cards.
Punch or Stamp Cards: A DIY Choice That Works
A punch card or stamp card is the most common way to implement a membership program. It’s what people are used to and it’s also the easiest to implement!
As a customer makes a purchase, you can punch or stamp the card; after a certain number of punches or stamps, they can redeem the card for their reward. It’s a simple, low-cost way to keep customers coming back again and again.
The best part about choosing this option is that you can design your own card and print dozens or even hundreds of them at once. There is no extra technology or on-going investment involved with these cards.
- Create a design in Photoshop, Canva, or even Microsoft Word or PowerPoint that will fit on a standard-sized business card. The size is important because you want customers to carry this card in their wallet at all times! Your card should have:
- Your company’s name
- The name of your membership program
- Basic details about the membership program (e.g. “Get one hand-crafted drink for free after you purchase 10 cups of coffee!”)
- Small icons where you will punch or stamp the card for each purchase. You can make them basic squares or circles, or you can be creative—coffee cups for a café, a fork and knife for a restaurant, a car for a mechanic’s shop.
- Print your cards. This DIY process includes printing! You don’t want to print your cards on regular paper though. Remember, you want customers to keep these in their wallets; depending on your business, they may need to hang onto this same card for months. Regular paper can crumple and tear easily, so you need to choose a more durable material.
We recommend using permanent paper for your membership cards. You can print on permanent paper at home with a laser printer, and it is, as the name implies, permanent! It is a weatherproof, heat-resistant, and chemical-resistant material that holds up to bends, folds, and tears, while still being a cost-effective choice for budget-conscious businesses. We recommend using 11 mil permanent paper; this is the ideal thickness for business cards that will stand up to regular wear and tear, while still fitting in a standard wallet pocket.
Permanent paper comes in a traditional 8.5 x 11” sheets and 12” x 18” sheets for those who prefer to print more cards per single sheet. The Dahle 18” Professional Guillotine Cutter is a safe and efficient way to cut the sheets of permanent paper into professional-level cards with clean, even lines.
Market your membership program.
A rewards program doesn’t do any good if nobody knows about it! We also recommend using 8 mil permanent paper to create signs to hang around your business that advertises your new program to browsing customers. You can place signage on your door and at the checkout register as well.
Additionally, train your staff to offer membership to every single customer. Each employee should fully understand the benefits of the program and be able to explain to customers why becoming a loyal member is a great deal!
If you already have an email list or followers on social media, be sure to share the details of your new program with them.
Implementing a membership card program is an easy, cost-effective way to drive more business and customer loyalty for years to come. To learn more about how to use permanent paper in your business, contact the experts at Filmsource Inc today!