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: 05/23/2018

    Best Buy’s Geek Squad is now available by subscription

    Total Tech Support should prove to be an effective tactic to create and maintain a higher level of engagement with customers of Best Buy. While cries of the Retail Apocalypse abound, retailers are scratching their heads about how to leverage their sunk investment in real estate. Being a showroom for Amazon is not going to be enough, and there needs to be an expansion of reasons "why" customers take time to walk into store locations. A subscription service with ties to the stores themselves is a worthy attempt to leverage the physical locations at Best Buy and to create higher engagement with customers. On first sight, I thought the price point of the subscription was high, but in consideration of hourly rates for local computer repair stores, $199 is more than reasonable for an annual bundle of time and service.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2018

    Will greater transparency drive a digital targeting backlash?

    When trying to understand how consumers will react to a change in the level of transparency used by advertisers, or changes to the techniques being used to deliver ads online, I struggle as consumers themselves don't behave consistently in how they give up their data to various parties online. Let me explain. Consumers sign EULA for software they purchase as well as use SSO to create accounts at e-commerce sites using their Google, Facebook or Twitter account information. It is safe to say that few of the EULA's are read and that few consumers understand what they are giving away through their use of SSO. Over 4 million people have sent their DNA to Ancestry.com through the mail to an unknown place where "someone" analyzes their family origins and returns a report. These examples tell us that consumers will release more information than they realize they are sharing and do so without prejudice if they think they are receiving a worthwhile benefit. The standards consumers use to evaluate the use of their online behaviour by marketers for retargeting seems to be higher and more precise. There is also GDPR to consider. I would disclose more and take the high road. At the end of the day, retailers are not going to win by tricking consumers into making purchases. Their products and services have to carry weight on their own.
  • Posted on: 01/04/2018

    Consumers want their digital promos and print circulars, too

    The pivotal comment in the article for me was this: "Overall, the survey found that almost half of U.S. households engage with at least eight different print and digital sources of information about products and sales." Turns out that of all the marketing buzzword nonsense that is proliferated in the marketplace, "omnichannel" is one that has substance. The rise of email did not spell the death of print and catalogs. The rise of social did not spell the death of email. And now, it seems clear the rise of the mobile device as the principal entry point for consumers to learn about a brand and its products will not mute the effectiveness of other existing channels. Using multiple channels to gain maximum coverage of a customer group is wise. Smart use of the data collected through promotional campaigns, blogs, clubs and loyalty programs is the basis to understand how to match customers with their preferred channels.
  • Posted on: 01/03/2018

    Should Amazon have Target in its acquisition sights?

    The most innovative move that Amazon can make is to avoid the predictable one of acquiring brick and mortar chains to expand its business footprint. Amazon has built its business on removing friction and cost from retail commerce. If their next move is to continue acquisition efforts in bricks and mortar (post Whole Foods), does this mean that they have exhausted their opportunities to disintermediate or innovate in the digital channel? Continued partnership efforts with retails already invested in brick and mortar might be a better step while Amazon fortifies itself with Whole Foods.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2017

    7-Eleven goes omnichannel with mobile, BOPIS and delivery

    Retailers are learning that it is not enough to have a mobile app. There has to be a strong value proposition for customers to download and use the app. Smart retailers like 7-Eleven realize this and are building "inside out," by focusing on core functionality like mobile ordering, delivery, etc. The new delivery service from 7-Eleven is a solid step towards building engagement with its app. That said, this strategy will surely have more traction when deployed by the likes of QSR and casual dining chains. It is questionable if the fundamental needs of convenience store customers are being served by a digital ordering service. Many big corporate chains (WAWA, Sheetz, Cumberland Farms) are focusing on improving the in-store experience to drive traffic and sales. This might be a higher priority than offering digital ordering and it will be interesting to see if 7-Eleven knows something the others do not.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2017

    Will more promos fix Dick’s Sporting Goods pricing challenge?

    Dick's could be the poster child for testing whether a focus on customer experience can outweigh other factors in maintaining market share. It is probably inevitable that the chain will have to soften its pricing and accept a future life with slightly lower margin. That said, if it thinks that price and promotion alone will protect market share and the core business over the long term, think again. Taking on the fight with, for instance, Amazon, seems to be a losing battle. Dick's should make some adjustments in its pricing formulas, but otherwise consider the many opportunities to leverage its physical store chain to attract and maintain customers. I've seen where Saks and other are opening gyms in their stores. I'm not sold on this as the brand does not fit with the activity. Dick's however, has the opportunity to bring people into the store to do what they want to do with the clothes, shoes, and equipment they purchase. It seems a perfect fit.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2017

    What bad habits do retail solution providers need to break?

    Fully agree with Dave Bruno below. My description is that we need to deliver first, build trust and only then seek to "ladder up" in the organization to sell more product or services. All too often, a first sale is made and more attention is given to incremental business than delivering on the reality of the day. Stay focused, be grateful for what you have, and build trust with your client. Good things will happen down the road.
  • Posted on: 06/30/2017

    Does Blue Apron’s ‘meh’ IPO spell trouble for meal kit services?

    A quick analysis of the financials disclosed in the Blue Apron circular shows amazing growth between 2014 - 2015, with growth in 2016, but at a reduced rate. Investors should have demanded to see how the growth pattern continues through the end of 2017 in order to draw conclusions about retention rates. I've seen criticism of the marketing spend at Blue Apron, but as a percent of revenues, the numbers have remained consistent in the 18% range. Overall, Opex is decreasing as a % of revenues over the 2014 - 2016 period. At least the company is controlling overall expense levels as sales grow. This is a company which might have been better advised to stay out of public markets. The model is too easy to duplicate for the company to sustain market value over a longer period of time. A better strategy would have been to achieve profitability and become an acquisition target on a smaller scale.
  • Posted on: 06/28/2017

    Can fitness classes wake up retail store traffic?

    Incorporating fitness and meditation classes in a retail setting only makes sense when both directly reinforce the core brand promise. For example, Lululemon offers yoga and other fitness related events in its retail stores. This is a good fit and, from what I know, the response from local communities where this takes place has been positive. Outside of this very narrow channel of opportunity, I don't see the concept working. I never associated "sweat" with the Saks brand and the number of alternatives for most Saks shoppers inclined towards fitness are too many to expect much participation, whether a loyal Saks shopper or not.
  • Posted on: 06/27/2017

    What happens when you put a c-store on wheels?

    We are living in a time when technologists are exploring every possibility for solutions that will save us time or make our lives easier. I think it's important to remember that just because a new tech solution is introduced, in this case Moby Mart, it does not mean there was a problem to solve in the first place. If we continue to seek out retail solutions that allow us to get everything at our beck and call while not moving far from our desks, we risk becoming a bit more sedentary and robot-like each day. The convenience store business itself is undergoing massive evolution right now, and the changes taking place as stores transform into meeting places that offer quality foods should be enough to engage consumers. Why we need to have an app-controlled vending machine roll up to our door is a mystery to me. I still prefer, as do many humans, a trip down the hall or across the street to get some fresh air, talk with a colleague and grab a hot or cold beverage.
  • Posted on: 06/22/2017

    Is Starbucks passing the buck to baristas on customer service?

    A solid approach to improving any process is to identify the root cause issues that are creating inefficiencies that lead to poor customer satisfaction. It seems that Starbucks could have polled the barista community as to their opinions on the root causes and then addressed these issues with solutions in hand as part of the North Star meetings. Maybe Starbucks did take this approach, but it does not seem apparent in the articles here.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2017

    Why did McDonald’s end its Olympic sponsorship?

    The Olympics are problematic for many companies considering sponsorship for several of the reasons you have well outlined. Time zone differences, access to results, athlete tracking via social media and geo-political concerns are all valid reasons that brands might struggle with Olympic sponsorship. Probably the biggest challenge for McDonald's in particular is the brand mismatch. Watching a high-level athlete promote burgers and fries is not an easy message to swallow (pun intended). An equally interesting question is why the other brands mentioned (AT&T, Citi, Hilton) opted out. Each of these has a global footprint and there are no brand compatibility issues. Possibly geo-political concerns as well as continual allegations raised against IOC's handling of site selection and budget are impacting these relationships.
  • Posted on: 06/19/2017

    Did Amazon just patent tech that could end showrooming in its stores?

    Readers should not jump to the conclusion that Amazon will use this patented technology to prevent customers from searching online while in their stores. Showrooming was shown to be a positive for the customer shopping experience a few years ago and I think Amazon is too smart to make the blunder of preventing the behavior in its stores today. The expectation should be that Amazon will analyze the collected data to optimize its product merchandising and pricing strategies. As the lead article states, "A five percent discount would be enough to convince 60 percent of shoppers to buy online instead of from a store." Amazon would only have to make a small adjustment in pricing to stop the bleeding to other sources. One other thought: Considering that many of the showrooming shoppers in brick-and-mortar retailers were probably migrating away to Amazon to get that 5 percent discount, I wonder how much sales loss really concerns Amazon.
  • Posted on: 06/19/2017

    Will the Bonobos acquisition give Walmart a fashion edge?

    I agree with the others who have commented so far that the brands are not complementary. Bonobos are high quality products that are sold with a high level of custom care. They are also pricey. Therefore the advantage Walmart seeks to create through this acquisition is not immediately clear. As stated in the lead article, "the main benefit of adding niche brands such as Bonobos is to gain a better reach and understanding of younger, urban and more upscale consumers." If that means the play is for customer data and segment intelligence, $310 million is an expensive price tag for customer data. If Bonobos will become part of the Jet group and therefore not associated directly with the Walmart brand in the marketplace, then Walmart would appear to be continuing on its path to aggregate fashion brands into a separate portfolio. Creating a wholly separate business that just happens to be under the Walmart umbrella makes the most sense.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2017

    What happens now that Amazon is acquiring Whole Foods?

    Two things come to mind regarding the deal announced today between Amazon and Whole Foods: 1. Most stories in the press that I have read are sharing the view that "Whole Foods Market stores and its headquarters operation won’t look much different after the sale." I would bet on the veracity of that statement for about 12 - 18 months, but after that, the leadership, structure and overall operational persona of Whole Foods will be drastically different from what we see today. 2. There are multiple opportunities to "win" for Amazon and Whole Foods.
    • For Whole Foods, they may add efficiency to their supply chain to bring down the prices of healthy food products and shed the image of "whole paycheck." Just read the funny tweets about the sale today and you'll see how strongly painted the brand is with that imagery.
    • For Whole Foods, they may be the first to democratize healthy eating. While many consumers are interested in eating better and taking care of their health, it is not affordable for most. This model may finally change.
    • For Amazon, instead of experimenting with Kiosks and pop-up stores, they will have an instant brick and mortar footprint and can optimize the merchandise offered. Rather than simply turning WF into an Amazon outlet, the better idea is to selectively seed WF with items that will drive foot traffic and give consumers a brand new reason to make shopping at WF a regular stop.
    • For Amazon, they are entering the grocery market at a time when leading competitors are under pressure from new market entrants. Kroger is feeling that pressure from Lidl's planned market entry and Walmart is always pushing the full priced grocers. Innovation in delivery and the ability to make shopping about WF about much more than grocery will add a new dimension to the competitive marketplace.

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