Bill Hanifin

CEO, Hanifin Loyalty LLC

Bill Hanifin brings over 25 years experience encompassing customer centric marketing, payment systems, and corporate banking to benefit the clients he serves. Bill has concentrated on developing and implementing Customer Strategies designed to address a range of business objectives from account acquisition and sales performance to improved customer retention and increased share of wallet and brand preference.

Bill has worked with companies in the airline, banking, hotel, retail, telecom, and business services sectors providing a range of services including Strategic Marketing Plans, Project Management, Financial Measurement, and Operational Solutions. A partial Client list includes American Express, BBVA Bancomer, Banco BHD, FirstCaribbean Int’l Bank, Grupo Posadas (largest hotel chain in Mexico), JM Associates Federal Credit Union, LaQuinta Inns, Scotiabank, Visa, and

Bill is a Founding Member of the Customer Strategy Network, a global network of independent relationship and loyalty marketing practitioners. He authors Loyalty Truth, a blog covering all aspects of Customer Centric marketing, and serves as North American Contributing Editor for The Wise Marketer, a global publication covering the loyalty marketing industry.

Bill is an accomplished speaker and trainer and is a requested presenter at industry trade conferences sponsored by Airline Information, SourceMedia, the Direct Marketing Association, Visa, Loyalty 360, and the Institute for International Research. He has led public and privately organized workshops in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, EU, and Asia Pacific regions.

Bill is a prolific writer on the subjects of Millennial, Loyalty, and Relationship marketing. In addition to his blog Loyalty Truth, his articles and quotes have been published in American Banker, Colloquy, Cards & Payments, Card Technology,, DM News, Fox, Smart Money, and

  • Posted on: 08/09/2021

    What benefits do premium loyalty program members value?

    Premium loyalty programs are one approach among many to engage with a customer base. To me, this is one of several tacks a brand can pursue in a tiered approach to marketing. Paid programs can bring great value to a small percentage of the customer base, but expectations have to be kept in check as very few retailers have the multiplicity of assets to combine into a program like Amazon Prime, the inspiration for many premium programs. No matter your approach, paid or otherwise, it’s time to embrace your customer base as your most important asset and adopt a clear vision of how you plan to build trusted relationships with them over the long run. Investors and shareholders are rewarding this approach with higher market valuations. Realize as you go forward that a formally defined loyalty "program" is not a prerequisite to achieving the big goal. Next-level marketers realize that absolute conquest of customer allegiance is not always a practical goal. Building trust, reinforcing brand affinity, and growing value is attainable and when you redefine "loyalty" this way, the pressure comes off some of this debate.
  • Posted on: 04/25/2021

    Amazon has mad upskills

    Investing in people is the most direct way to express a brand promise that centers attention on the customer. How trusting will customers be of a brand when they are aware that the brand takes employees for granted? Making an investment in training is worth every penny. The Amazon program is well-timed also as the cost of higher education has skyrocketed. More workers realize that picking up practical skills, regardless of the source, can help their careers flourish. This program is one that should be applauded by the general business community and possibly emulated by other retailers.
  • Posted on: 04/25/2021

    Can retailers wait any longer for government to move on climate change?

    Every time I receive a package from Amazon, I ask myself if there isn't a better way to ship products and reduce packaging waste. Recycling printer cartridges makes me think about how when our printers break or it becomes harder to find the needed ink, we throw them out and buy a newer edition. We have become accustomed to a "use and discard" way of life. There are baby steps that each retailer could take if, as someone else on this thread stated, they place value on that behavior as part of their brand promise. Having an industry organization advocate for change can leverage the power of many retailers, but in the interim, each retailer should examine its role in climate change and find a few baby steps to get started.
  • Posted on: 04/19/2021

    Are you ready for the retailer-as-service revolution?

    Retailers should accept that e-commerce is going to be the first channel for shopping in the future. That doesn't place a death sentence on brick-and-mortar locations, though the size, layout, and intent will continue to evolve over the next few years. Imagine a mall as a place to "experience retail shopping" rather than a destination to purchase. By changing the role of employees and investing more in training, customers might look forward to spending an afternoon in the mall touching, feeling, trying on, etc. If they go home and make the purchase on their phone, that is their choice and it's one that has already been taken out of the retailer's hands. This scenario embraces the retail as a service concept and I believe will lead to a brighter future for many retailers that invest in an omnichannel approach.
  • Posted on: 01/28/2021

    A digital first approach is essential to retail success

    Interviewing many retail brands over the past year, I learned the emphasis on "digital" was preexisting the pandemic. What took place during 2020 caused many projects to simply accelerate their timelines. For example, many restaurants had been considering online order and delivery. Once the pandemic struck, the move to actually launch this service was put on the fast track. As the dust settles, execs are revisiting assumptions, fine-tuning offers, and looking hard at relationships with third-party delivery companies. How a brand adopts a digital approach has to be consumer-driven in order to be successful. And evidence of digital strategy is showing up in brick and mortar stores as much as online. Just this week I noticed newly installed self check-out stations at CVS and Whole Foods. Lee says that "Shopping is no longer an 'event,' it’s just another thing we have to do today, another button to push." I think we will find that people are still looking for enhanced experiences in their shopping interactions. The more digital becomes the norm, the more the need to differentiate, even online, with experiential elements will be in demand.
  • Posted on: 01/27/2021

    Is a labor storm developing at retail?

    While some moves towards a stronger union environment are motivated through the selfish ambition of their leadership, the outcome of longer-term trends is grounded in worker treatment. For several years, larger employers including UPS, FedEx, Walmart, Amazon, etc. have walked a think line where they offer essential employment to people who need it, often in seasonal jobs, but structure the system to limit benefits and a more fulsome opportunity. Whole Foods recently announced it would shorten paid breaks from 15 to 10 minutes. Workers were upset and who can blame them. It's hard to walk to the restroom and back in 10 minutes, much less take a work break. If larger employers truly value their workers, they will find a way to legitimately offer compensation and benefits that satisfy core needs. If that happens, the value of union protection is minimized. I'd say the future of this discussion lies in the boardrooms of these large employers.
  • Posted on: 01/26/2021

    Conquering store associates’ selling fears is key to driving sales

    I'm betting that almost none of the frontline store personnel in retail had a sales job in mind when they filled out the application. Brands need to set expectations differently when hiring and be prepared to deliver all the tools necessary to help people believe that they can sell in a natural way, within their own style. Anticipating objections and role playing are essential tools to create a foundation for success. Above all, create an environment of encouragement and support, rather than fear of punishment or penalty.
  • Posted on: 09/09/2020

    Which COVID-19 consumer habits will stick?

    There will be a dichotomy of response from consumers as restrictions ease and routines become more familiar. Many will seek a return to "normalcy" and revert to previous behaviors as the Hub Research paper suggests. Others will have discovered that in experimenting with new brands and purchase experiences out of necessity during the pandemic, some true lifehacks have been earned. One thing seems sure, that consumers will patronize brands that identify with their values and they perceive stuck with them during a time of crisis. There are many stories of those brands who lead the way on easing monthly obligations (Farmers Insurance), while others were much slower to do so (State Farm). Many similar examples exist in other categories. In the casual dining sector, I believe the online order and pick up levels that were sparked during the past 6 months will be sustained, more so than online order and delivery.
  • Posted on: 12/10/2019

    Did Aviation Gin just make lemonade from Peloton’s lemons?

    Aviation Gin did a smart thing in its opportunistic video. Why not have some fun with the Peloton controversy? It also probably helped the career of Ms. Ruiz who gained recognition and may benefit from being a sympathetic figure. As a longtime endurance sport athlete, I might desire a Peloton to meet certain needs and if my spouse surprised me with the bike as a gift, I would receive it as her supporting my fitness goals. I would not have been offended by the gift. In my view, Peloton poorly produced the ad making it overly dramatic and silly. That opened the door to the criticism. If they had told the brief story in another manner, they could have produced an inspiring ad, the likes of which can be found from Nike and others.
  • Posted on: 12/09/2019

    Why do so many people say ‘no’ to retailer loyalty programs?

    If someone invited you to join their social club, you probably wouldn't make that big commitment for just a free drink on the first night. Sadly the depth of the initial, not to mention ongoing, offer is just as weak for many loyalty programs. Consider that we are asking our customers to take time to commit to "something" that is going to account for some of their time and require they give up personal data. To create the perception of fair value exchange, there's got to be much more than "points." Retailers need to think about the unique brand elements that can be used to attract customers, and press in more deeply to create packages/bundles of in-store service and delivery that sets them apart from competitors. The loyalty program should be the icing on top of a solid offer and build trust over time, making more of a difference than periodic discounts. Sometimes that simple concept is hard to execute, but now is the time for retailers to invest further, not regress back to price-based strategies.
  • Posted on: 12/03/2019

    Will its ‘culture of recognition’ be a game winner for Dick’s Sporting Goods?

    Most people agree that creating better in-store experiences is a mandatory step that retailers need to take to press an advantage over online competition. Involving store associates in the experience is not only important, it might be the first thing that should be addressed. If retailers are to put a stake in the ground to protect their turf, they should start with increased focus on training and recognition of their valuable employees.
  • Posted on: 12/03/2019

    Why are brands so bad at identity resolution?

    The top business objective noted by CMOs in the survey is to improve customer satisfaction. Today, customers have high expectations for the way their data is used. Without improving the ability to consistently identify the customer, increasing customer satisfaction levels will be a constant struggle.
  • Posted on: 11/20/2019

    Should customers just be paid for their data?

    This is a string that we could regenerate every 6 months and revisit current thinking. There are at least two partitions to this discussion: The first is the unscrupulous access to data that is the subject of the Cambridge Analytical episode. We all know this is horrendous and its this type of activity over the years that have captured the attention of regulators. The other side of this is the choice that we all have to opt-in to anything as consumers. I view the current system as "buyer beware." Here's just one example: while I might have had some fun with my FitBit, now that it has been acquired by Google, I'm more conscious of where my data may end up and how it might be used. As a result, I might ditch that device or opt-out of data sharing, but keep using the device locally. The trouble with the current system is that, as a consumer, I don't know whether to trust what happens with my data even after I've opted-out. Is it really erased? Is it still held in aggregate for corporate use? I would like to know. I don't think the answer is to monetize, at least until someone comes up with a practical way to manage that process. In the meantime, the answer is for brands to make good on their promise of delivering value in exchange for the data they collect. That should be the promise that consumers hold them to, or risk losing their business.
  • Posted on: 11/20/2019

    Should customers just be paid for their data?

    As a consumer, I would not agree with this statement. I opt-in where I am interested in the brand, want to learn something, or think I'll get a price advantage. If I get what I want and am ready to move on, I might opt-out. If I don't see the value from my investment in time and contribution of personal data, I'll opt-out. The trouble with the current system is that, as a consumer, I don't know whether to trust what happens with my data even after I've opted-out. Is it really erased? Is it still held in aggregate for corporate use? I would like to know. I don't think the answer is to monetize, I think the answer is for brands to make good on their promise of delivering value in exchange for the data they collect.
  • Posted on: 11/20/2019

    Retail apocalypse? How about a disruptor meltdown?

    I find it interesting that in some cases, some of the disruptors have been "disrupted" themselves by fast-followers. I considered that Casper was the leader in launching the online mattress business, however they were quickly joined by Purple and Leesa. Suddenly there is choice in a market that was only recently an eye-opener as a new DTC brand. The exclusivity of the business model and hurdle to competitors should be something given greater consideration in this expanding online retail market.

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