PROFILE

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 VitaCost.com.

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, Bankstocks.com, DM News, Fox News.net, Smart Money, and MSNBC.com.

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  • Posted on: 07/08/2019

    Is Walmart at an online crossroads?

    Walmart should maintain its focus on the ultimate goal - leadership, success, and profitability in its e-commerce activities -- but should review strategy and jettison the parts of the current plan that are sucking cash out of the business. Maybe growth through acquisition of boutique brands seemed like the way to get an edge on competitors at the time, but it seems that approach needs to be reevaluated. Also, Walmart has taken on the image of the follower rather than leader vis a vis Amazon. I think the drive to deliver in one day or "next day" is bait that Walmart did not have to take. Walmart needs to keep its focus on success in e-commerce, just chart a new and proprietary course.
  • Posted on: 06/19/2019

    Do direct-to-consumer digital brands have advantages over traditional retailers?

    DTC brands are successful in part because they focus on a focused product line (e.g. cosmetics) or a product that meets a specific need (e.g. fitness). Their Achilles heel in many cases can be their manner of funding. When venture and private equity money is the source of life and growth, pressures to meet investor expectations can unravel an otherwise organized growth plan. Because they are lean and don't have the baggage of traditional retailers, they have a distinct advantage over the offline competition. That doesn't mean they won't venture into the physical world. Customers like to "showroom" and I believe the transformation of the retail landscape will be evidenced in malls full of DTC kiosks or small stores where customers can see, test, and learn - also buy. It's been said before, but traditional retailers have to take advantage of their physical connection to the customer and focus on stellar customer service and in-store experience. The potential advantage to be created is obvious, so why aren't more offline retailers showing progress in these areas?
  • Posted on: 06/19/2019

    Best Buy knows tech. What about fitness?

    Best Buy has been brilliant in turning the threat of "showrooming" to its own advantage. The experiential nature of the shopping experience in Best Buy stores is attractive enough to entice customers to make a destination trip and browse products of interest. Any product that is higher-ticket and whose sale can be reinforced through in-person demo and trial is perfect to be added into the Best Buy environment. Fitness equipment falls into this category. Could we see e-tailers like Peloton co-locate showrooms for its products in Best Buy stores in the future? At a minimum it provides another sales channel. Going deeper, it is a lower cost path to brick and mortar exposure for DTC fitness brands like Peloton.
  • Posted on: 06/18/2019

    Former Snapchat and Quidsi execs come up with possible rival to Amazon

    From a leadership perspective, Verishop would seem to have the right people setting strategy and directing operations. That means there may be more in store than meets the eye. From what we see so far, I'm not sure there is any basis to think that Verishop will be the next Amazon. Obviously it can be a successful e-commerce retailer, but beyond that it is not even in context to compare it to Amazon.
  • Posted on: 06/17/2019

    Shake Shack founder says, ‘Do it. Don’t talk about it (sustainability initiatives) until asked.’

    When the changes you make as a brand are "intuitive" and done for the right reasons, then I see nothing wrong with telling customers about that policy. Don't over-promote, but realize that people value authenticity and moves made that coincide with core brand promises.
  • Posted on: 06/17/2019

    How well did Target handle its no good, very bad weekend?

    The expectations of consumers are skyrocketing. If only each of us were as perfect in executing our daily work as we expect our favorite retailers, both online and offline, to be. I'm not offering excuses for Target but suggesting that when technical and system problems occur, that retailers have a plan in place to address it with their valued customers. Having associates at the door to advise people what's happening and offering a bounce back certificate are good ideas to keep people calm. The challenge is in managing social commentary and negative feedback in social channels. Too many people instantly become cyber-bullies towards brands expecting to receive something in return. But, even though criticism can be unreasonable, brands have to keep an imaginary "smile on their face" and respond with practical responses. Target did well to get through its situation as best it could.
  • Posted on: 06/12/2019

    What does FedEx’s break with Amazon mean?

    Morgan Stanley's Mr. Shankar may have been overly dramatic with his description of this decision by FedEx. It is a “watershed moment for the parcel industry" but for different reasons, in my opinion. With Amazon accounting for less than 1.3 percent of total revenue, it seems that FedEx is less taking a financial risk and more making a statement to Amazon and the entire retail marketplace. By carving out its own path and seeking to further diversify its revenue base, FedEx is probably making a good decision for its shareholders.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2019

    Experience is overrated, hire talent

    Investment in a shorter version of the customary skill and personality assessments available in the market would be worthwhile. Why not find out if the person considered for hire is truly suited for the position and has an interest in doing it well? That one step could reduce turnover and help to manage training costs. In addition, a retailer might find that a person applying for a specific position might actually be better suited for another opening. Benefits here are for both the employer and employee. Everybody wins.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2019

    Questions abound about the value of net promoter scores

    From the time that NPS was introduced, I was skeptical that any "one question" could lead to meaningful conclusions that predict business outcomes. This opinion was founded on opinions similar to those cited in the article by the WSJ and Ron Shevlin. I later reached out to Bain and discussed my questions with Rob Markey, the Bain partner who was leading the customer-centric work originated by Fred Reichheld. You can find this conversation deep in the archives of LoyaltyTruth dot com. Mr. Markey shared that the value in NPS could be found in an implementation plan for operational change that Bain created in conjunction with the NPS score. In other words, Bain intended the score to serve as a sentinel to kick off operational changes that would lead to improved customer acceptance and satisfaction. Brands that take action on their NPS score findings may have reason to continue to rely on the metric. Those that merely run the surveys and tout the number as a badge probably won't see long term-improvement in business results.
  • Posted on: 05/20/2019

    Kroger launches accelerator fund

    This is a brilliant extension of the strategy already in play, led by the 8451 launch a few years back. With excess cash available, Kroger is in a good position to create an environment for the study and development of new concepts and should benefit as a whole as a result. Who would have predicted that a grocer would be leading an effort this a few years ago? Very creative on the part of Kroger.
  • Posted on: 05/20/2019

    Just how big is Amazon’s ethics challenge?

    With increasing market share comes scrutiny. Whether rational or not, consumers may build resentment against Amazon as it continues to make entry into new segments, and the demise of neighborhood retail becomes more apparent. Walmart has been through this cycle and, I believe, has come out the other side. Now the attention shifts to Amazon. The key to the outcome of this discussion question may be how much Mr. Bezos cares about all of this and whether he directs a proactive approach to preserve the company's reputation in the eyes of consumers.
  • Posted on: 05/16/2019

    Why does loyalty program ROI remain so murky?

    I agree with you that "Loyalty" in its broadest sense is something people reserve for their higher power, country and family. I use the word as a way to address all forms of "data-driven customer marketing," in large part because we've never come up with a term that is a better descriptor. CRM, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Digital Marketing and many others have all been suggested but each contributes to confusion over meaning in its own way. The purpose of this part of the marketing discipline is to improve customer lifetime value across specific groups in a customer portfolio. No one I know thinks they can generate mindless, unwavering loyalty to a brand. People are fickle and unpredictable as you mention. To me, this is a valid conversation as long as we can agree on the meaning of the terms we are using to address the topic. Make sense?
  • Posted on: 05/16/2019

    Why does loyalty program ROI remain so murky?

    The top metrics influencing the outcomes of a loyalty financial model are membership penetration and growth rate, activity and participation rates, currency funding rates, assumptions for lift/shift/retention, and the member "earning velocity." With loyalty programs operating for many years across most brands, establishing a control group in the context of direct marketing is not easy or practical. Some compare the ongoing growth of customer lifetime value between member groups and non-members. Refining this concept, others look at the performance of specific cohort groups pre- and post-enrollment. Amazon reports on its Prime program with this second metric and has established a correlation between member growth and contribution to earnings per share. There is a fundamental structure that exists, which if followed and consistently measured will lead to reliable loyalty program ROI measurement. Not enough brands understand the full planning methodology and invest in making it part of their customer marketing administration.
  • Posted on: 05/16/2019

    Study says Whole Foods is the priciest grocer of them all

    We should not be surprised about the differential in pricing between, for example, Walmart and Whole Foods. Nor should we be surprised that Whole Foods is the highest priced grocer in the market. Their positioning to deliver quality, "natural" foods in a unique environment has always been delivered with a cost premium attached. Two disappointments:
    1. The so-called integration with Amazon Prime has delivered nominal value to Prime members and has not done anything to change behavior towards Whole Foods. Will Amazon ever decide to put real value on the table to entice shoppers?
    2. When will eating healthy become affordable or at least priced in line with or at a small premium over traditional grocery items? There is a big disconnect between the obvious need for us to eat a more healthy diet and our ability to fit it into our budget.
  • Posted on: 05/13/2019

    What’s wrong with the (fill in the blank) category?

    Bottled water, energy drinks, yogurt. There are quite a few product types that we could use to "fill in the blank" here. I agree with the author interviewed that product curation is important by the retailers (grocers, convenience stores) to keep the product selection sharp, offer distinctly identified products and minimize shoppers being frozen by too much choice. In general, it seems that most retailers allow the shelves to overflow with product in a new, hot category and respond after the fact. A more proactive approach might actually increase sales.

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