Bryan Kramer

Posted on October 01, 2012 by Bryan Kramer 1

Everyone Can’t be a VIP: Five Effective Ways to be Exclusive

What’s happened to exclusivity? It’s not exclusive anymore—and that, to me, is a bit of a problem.

The trend among many companies and brands is to offer “exclusive” to everyone. This is, in part, due to the proliferation of social networks and how connected we are with consumers now. I get it, to a point. Social media is about sharing, right? We want our audience to share our content with their social networks and introduce us to their connections. Expanding networks is part of what makes social media so awesome. And social media is the great equalizer, allowing everyone access to brands that were previously associated with the rich and famous. But nobody said that that we have to share everything with everyone. Or that everything we share should be free. Au contraire. You can, indeed, design a successful social strategy by providing valuable and unique content to an exclusive audience.

Take Grey Poupon, for example. Did you know that they now limit their Facebook likes? The brand screens Facebook fans that have “liked” them using an algorithm that takes into account music, film and book taste, location check-ins and correct use of grammar. If users don’t cut the mustard (their pun, not mine), their like is rejected and they’re asked to polish their profile and try again. If you just try to like the page without going through this process, Grey Poupon will delete you as one of its fans.

VIP Experience imageIf this sounds ridiculously highbrow, that’s the point. Sure there’s a risk with the sort of thing. But it fits with the brand’s lineage (think back to the 80s ad with the dude in the limo), and it may actually create more engaged fans that those brands who have amassed millions of run-of-the-mill likes.

My point is, even in our ultra-connected society, there is still room for exclusivity. In a good way. Remember when VIPs were actually Very Important People (as in, your most loyal customers and brand evangelists)? How many tweets or invites do you get via social media now that are obviously inviting everyone to become a VIP? Or to download something “exclusive” when you know it’s available to anyone with a computer and internet access?

Exclusivity can add value to your brand while directly targeting communication and perks to a select audience. Membership still has its privileges, my friend.

So there is an opportunity here for anyone who wants to break through the social clutter and hone in on the benefits of exclusivity. There’s an art to being exclusive—but it’s a big secret and I’m going to share these five points just with you. So please don’t pass this on. We need to keep it between us. Otherwise how we will keep exclusivity exclusive?

1) Give more than you get. People want to know what’s in it for them—basic human nature. They also want to see value. If they believe the value of belonging to or identifying with a particular group (i.e. the “privilege”) is more important than the price of membership, then you’ve got yourself a loyal VIP. It’s rare when this connection happens for me, but when it does, I’m a die-hard loyalist. If you’re offering something exclusive, be sure the perceived value outweighs the cost to the consumer. Marketing 101, folks.

2) Make it special. Simply put, “exclusive” means there is no possibility of getting it elsewhere. It’s not offered to the masses, it’s saved for a select few. This could be something as simple as an offer in an email or even content that you tweet to just a select group of followers. Don’t be afraid of targeting a particular segment for special perks or privileges—you can create your most loyal evangelists this way.

3) Know what your VIPs need, then give it to them. Every human has a set of needs and the only way to gain rapport on any level is by connecting with two or more of those needs. Design your exclusivity campaign around knowing and then meeting your VIPs’ needs and you’ll win them every time. The key to this? Listen. People will tell you what they need, but if you’re not listening, you’ll miss the boat on this. Get your listening cap on and pay attention to your social networks. People are talking, I guarantee it.

4) Create raving fans. Taken straight out of Ken Blanchard’s book “Raving Fan,” everyone that receives better than great customer service—the highest level possible—has the potential to become a raving fan. And raving fans stick with you no matter what. If you’re driving something truly exclusive, a quality experience with out-of-this-world service is critical. Again, show your biggest fans that you are listening—this could be your secret sauce.

5) Give people bragging rights. Create an incredible experience with your VIPs and top customers/followers/fans, and then let them do your marketing for you. Word of mouth is incredibly infectious and effective, and when you establish a special connection with your most loyal evangelists—and give them a brand experience worth talking about—then you’ve helped to create a desire to share their experience with everyone else. Throwing in some free food never hurt, either. But an incredible brand experience will make them want to shout from the rooftops about how great you are. When you give someone bragging rights (and something to brag about), they’ll spread the word better than you can.

Key Takeaway: The amount of love you put into something is how much you’ll get back. And when you have a team of people doing the same with you, it just gets better—creating a synergistic, reciprocal connection with your most loyal followers is the beauty of exclusivity. Remember, it’s not just about the one VIP invite you send out. It’s the totality of the experience that makes someone value his or her true VIP status.

  • tianakai

    Some friends at CP+B put that Grey Poupon together and I didn’t even make the cut! The idea is brilliant and the design is great. Taking risks can sometimes really payoff. 

    I feel that special monthly reports would be a great value added VIP tool that I don’t find too much of anymore. Yes and give to give seems to come back to you… at some point.