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Andy Shore

'Ryno' Sandberg and the Importance of Brand Loyalty

Nov 17 2010, 11:33 AM by

A Chicago Hero Leaves for Philly
It was announced this week that Ryne Sandberg would be taking the job to manage the Philadelphia Phillies' AAA team. I already knew that Ryno would be leaving the Cubs organization after he wasn't awarded the top spot with my hometown Cubbies. If you grew up on the North side of Chicago and loved baseball, your favorite player was either Sandberg or Mark Grace. Mine was always Grace, but my best friend's was always Sandberg. We'd pretend we were them for hours a day on the baseball field behind my house. I would have liked to see Sandberg get a shot at the Cubs managerial position, and I'm sad to see him go to another organization. That doesn't mean I wouldn't love to see him return to the Cubs down the road.
A Lesson in Brand Loyalty

That got me thinking about trust and recognition in a brand. Could a company or brand I regularly interact with do something that I didn't like and still have me come back to them? The answer is: it depends. Say a brand spent years building trust and loyalty by keeping me, the customer, happy. Then one day, they stopped offering free shipping to their customers who held a credit card with them. Yes, this would upset me. I'd be losing a discount I had come to know and enjoy. If the company had shown they valued their loyal customers by routinely offering other promotions and discounts, then I'd probably still stick with that company. If they hadn't done much to show me there was value outside of the free shipping discount, I'd probably look around to see if I could get a product of equal value elsewhere.

Like a company that shows their customers they are appreciated, Sandberg did the same for Cubs fans. He had a goal of becoming the Cubs manager. The front office told Sandberg that he would have to work through the rankings in the minor leagues to gain experience. His hard work and dedication didn't pay off for him, but it wasn't for a lack of trying. Doing so, he earned the respect of the Cubs fan base. That's why if he ever returned, I'd be happy to welcome him back.

Sandberg Earned Trust. Does Your Company Do the Same?

Email marketers can learn something from this lesson/evaluation of one of my childhood heroes. Sandberg did what it took to earn the trust and loyalty of the Cubs fan base. He did so by hard work and success both in his playing career and his career as a minor league manager. It hurt to see him leave for the Phillies' organization. I can't deny that. That doesn't mean I've soured on him to the point of no return. A company should strive to do the same thing. That way if business forces them to do something that may not be popular with their customers, their customers will stay loyal and true.


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