Nonprofit Articles

Developing Unique Loyalty Programs: Review of Cinco Squared

by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 2 April 2012

One of my friends is a pro at loyalty programs. On last count, he had collected points from at least a dozen loyalty programs. He maintains an excel sheet to track them.

"And how many have you redeemed so far?" I asked him one day.

His face went blank.

That is a predicament most loyalty enthusiasts and businesses face. In a market where almost everyone has jumped on the loyalty bandwagon, how do you distinguish your business from the clamor of other rewards programs?

This week we will review a solution that might be a possible answer to this predicament. We will review Cinco Squared, a brand marketing, loyalty program and fundraising software. We will look at its interface, features, and see how it can be of use to you.

Developing A Marketing Solution

According to David Siedt, Founder of the solution, the idea for Cinco Squared stemmed loosely from a macro-enabled excel widget - the extra credit card machine. The widget, which retailed on e-bay about 10 years ago, has transformed into Cinco Squared. "After years of research on reward systems and nonprofit challenges, we began designing Cinco Squared in late 2010 and completed the solution in February 2012," says Siedt.

Besides the fact that it does not require investment in expensive software, Cinco Squared offers several other benefits, including addition of an element of surprise. "Our solution provides businesses the ability to offer their customers a surprise element similar to a high tech scratch off card," says Siedt.

He is referring to a feature in the solution that enables businesses to customize rewards that separate them from competition. "In an age where point-based loyalty cards have flooded the market and many customers don't even know how many points they have earned or what that even means for them, the ability for businesses to customize rewards they want separates them from competition," he says.

In the case of Cinco Squared, customization means that customers can mix-n-match rewards. This ability comes with an added benefit, according to David. "Defining odds of winning large discounts or prizes helps control cost while maintaining the same excitement on the customer side," says Siedt. As an illustration, he gives the example of a business that provides 75 to 10 percent off coupons on its products. "If a business gave all of their customers 10 percent off coupons, many would likely forget about them and if a business gave every customer 75 percent off coupons, the businesses would take a big loss," he says. "Cinco Squared allows a business to configure a mix of small and big prizes and their quantity." When customers are interactive and win something, they are more likely to redeem the prize opposed to a passive marketing technique such as static coupons."

Cinco Squared can also be used as an online fund-raising solution for non-profits. "There is no need to organize and run a banquet to pull winning numbers and then having to communicate winning numbers to those who don't attend," says Siedt. Besides less administrative work, the solution has the ability to create a fundraiser where everyone wins. "For example, a charity could sell 1,000 Cinco Squared cards at $5 per piece, have 50 prizes, and the rest percentage off coupons from local businesses that were donated," says Siedt. Since cards are redeemed online by the card buyers, organizations can have many more prizes and don't have to worry about writing contact information on paper ticket stubs.

Finally, the solution can also be used for employee rewards. "Companies can benefit from the low cost and reward flexibility unlike other provider's that lock you into certain rewards," says Siedt.

Working With Cinco Squared

Configuration of Cinco Squared is fairly simple. Creating customized marketing campaigns is a matter of four steps.

First, you create a campaign or rewards program by listing the anticipated number of recipients of your campaign and apply your branding. Second, you configure prizes in the system, including the quantity and redemption details. Third, you upload images or media associated with prizes or select from the frequently used image list. Finally, you print branded cards directly from the application or export them to Microsoft Excel for dissemination. Each event has a set of unique codes and unique prizes.This is where the idea of creating customized marketing campaigns becomes especially important.

So you can have a separate set of available prizes between multiple campaigns and rewards programs. For example, you can run multiple raffles in tandem without confusion. This would allow an organization, such as a school, to have a large 1000 ticket fundraising raffle event and separate 50 ticket raffles to sell during sporting events. The system matches the entered code to the proper event and associated prizes thus reducing confusion and administrative work.

In addition, you can also create rewards tiers for each campaign. Users who spent more than $5 on a particular product could be eligible for a special prize as in the previous example. I thought the rewards tier could be an especially useful system in an employee rewards program. For example, high-performing employees could be placed in a special tier, while others could be subdivided into additional tiers.

Once you have configured the specifics of your campaign, you can download an excel sheet containing details of your campaign. Then you can either print, email or use social media to deliver generated codes. Users can either use smart phones or print codes to redeem their coupons.

Given the amount of useful data it generates, Cinco Squared could do with better analytics capabilities. Siedt says this is already being planned. "As we receive feedback, we may build a dashboard that auto-calculates code redemption % and possibly even some cost/benefit calculations (will require more info from business)," he says.

The Basics: What Does The Interface Look Like?

Much like the solution, the interface is also really simple.

The dashboard, which as Siedt mentioned earlier is already being revamped, forms the crux of the system. In addition to the dashboard, you can configure campaigns using the My Events and prizes using the Prize Bin links. Whilr the configuration process is simple and intuitive, it might be an idea for the solution's founders to have a wizard that leads users through the configuration process.

Is It For You?

The idea and concept are novel. I would definitely recommend the solution, if only because it streamlines the process of marketing and brand loyalty at relatively low price points.