Adelphia Communications Corp. plans to launch its first
customer-loyalty program Wednesday (Dec. 8), tying together video, voice and telephony
services and promoting the company's sports-related holdings such as the National Hockey
League's Buffalo Sabres.
The MSO will initially roll out its "Adelphia
Awards" in western New York and test the results in the rest of its Great Lakes
region before determining whether to take the program national.
Buffalo, N.Y., and Cleveland will be among the first
markets in the test. Pittsburgh-area subscribers will not initially be eligible for the
awards program, but they will serve as a control group to measure whether those enrolled
tend to churn less often or spend more.
The program was designed to keep current customers away
from direct-broadcast satellite providers and to generate additional revenue from each
customer by selling multiple services.
"You can't generate more revenue if your customers are
walking out the door," Adelphia Great Lakes region vice president of marketing and
sales John Cimperman said.
Adelphia Awards customers earn incremental points for every
level of monthly cable service -- such as broadcast, basic, digital, premium and
pay-per-view movies and events -- as well as for other monthly subscriptions, including
high-speed Internet access, paging and long-distance phone service. One-time bonus points
are given when subscribers sign up for new services.
Sabres' season-ticket holders earn additional points.
"Cable companies need to be positioned as
entertainment companies," Cimperman said. "Too often, we're seen as
Adelphia has partnered with a number of programming
networks to make branded products available as prizes.
At the lowest level, customers can earn baseball caps
branded by ESPN or Nickelodeon, or T-shirts from MTV: Music Television or Disney Channel.
At the other end of the spectrum, Adelphia offers what
Cimperman called "fantasy gifts," like a trip to the MTV Video Awards or floor
seats for Cleveland Cavaliers NBA games.
Carlson Marketing Group -- which runs customer-affinity
programs for Northwest Airlines and Hallmark Cards Inc.'s "Gold Crown" stores --
helped to develop Adelphia Awards.
Carlson senior account supervisor Jon Von Rentzell said
it's important that the entry-level awards are easily achievable. "If it takes two
years to earn something like a ballpoint pen, that's not going to modify behavior,"
Adelphia began marketing the loyalty program about two
weeks ago with teaser cross-channel ads asking subscribers to "Get ready to get
rewarded." New spots will announce details of the program and ask subscribers to call
a toll-free number to enroll. December bill inserts will back the ads.
Subscribers who sign up get an Adelphia Awards card, which
boasts an electronic swipe offering discounts to local sports events and concerts. The MSO
also hopes to partner with restaurants and stores to offer cardholders discounts in
exchange for advertising exposure.