Customer Loyalty: Diet & Exercise for Your Business

Many business owners think about loyalty marketing as a magic pill that they can simply sign up for, and it will take care of itself.


Don’t fall into that trap.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Think about it in terms of something we all understand: diet pills.  If you’ve ever had a night where you couldn’t sleep, chances are you turned on the TV to find someone with way too much energy for your 3am brain to handle, shouting about an incredible diet pill that will change your life.  All you have to do, the over-caffeinated man screams, is take one pill a day, and you’ll be ship-shape in a few weeks.  We all know, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  What that hype-man doesn’t want you to know, is that the only way to truly lose the weight and get in shape, is with diet and exercise.
photo credit: aurelio.asiain
Where are we going with all this?  Well, Lantern is like a carefully crafted diet and exercise routine.  There is no magic pill for growing your business.  Many business owners fell into the trap of daily deals over the past few years – looking for that magic pill.  They ended up with a bunch of nasty side effects and many times worse off than they started.
Lantern is not a magic pill either.  Lantern is a carefully built set of tools along with a plan on how to use them, much like the work out machines built for weight loss in our analogy along with a diet and workout plan.
Follow the Simple Plan
Encourage your customers to join your loyalty program on Lantern and consistently remind them to use it until it becomes a habit for them.  Once they reach that stage, you’ll have created a customer for life and the simple rewards and tools will perpetuate them returning to your business over and over.
How Long Does It Take?
Well as you might expect, it doesn’t happen overnight.  In order to truly begin creating a pattern of loyalty using Lantern (or any other loyalty program for that matter), you need to consistently be telling every customer, every visit for at least 6 months.  You’ll want to use every method possible for spreading the word to your customers: at your business with signs & cards, through your employees telling customers, on your website, social media accounts and email template and any other way you can think of.  After the first 6 months, you can ratchet down the marketing of the program to 50% of your full efforts you used during the first 6 months.
If you truly want to grow your business in a sustainable, long-term way, Lantern is the easiest way to do that.  Don’t fall in the magic pill trap.  Make a commitment, do the work and grow your loyal customer base with Lantern.

KC Battle of the Brands – Round 1 – Vote for Lantern

KC Battle of the Brands – Round 1 – Vote for Lantern

Hi All!  The Battle begins today.  Thanks to you, Lantern made the top 64.  The Battle uses the NCAA Tournament format – 64 Brands in Round 1, 32 in Round 2, etc until only 1 remains as the winner.  Round 1 is live!  We’re up against a company with 300 employees (Lantern has 5), so we’re definitely the underdog.

We need your vote + any sharing you can do on social media.  Let’s Get Lit and help Lantern move into Round 2.

Vote Here

Also, please vote for our friends at Snow & Co, Foo’s and FINDitKC!

9 Best Free Apps for Local Deals

9 Best Free Apps for Local Deals

(Image via

Lantern was recently featured as one of MoneyLiving’s best apps for local deals. 

You Should ‘Get Lit’ This Holiday Season

You Should ‘Get Lit’ This Holiday Season

Lantern CEO, Aaron Sloup, wrote a blog post today for local entrepreneur resource hub and shop local advocate, KCSourcelink about ‘getting lit’ this holiday season.  No egg nog was harmed in the making of this post. :-)

Cupini’s – Dec. 2, 2013 @ 9:00pm (CT) on Diner’s, Drive-Ins and Dives

Cupinis dessertIf you tried to go out to Cupini’s a couple months ago and they were mysteriously closed in the middle of the week, it was because Guy Fieri and his crew from Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives was filming there!

The show features amazing restaurants from all over the country that are generally locally-owned, independent and doing something really well in a down-to-Earth atmosphere.  With a wide variety of Italian favorites from pastas to sandwiches to salads to made-from-scratch desserts, Cupini’s features all of that, in a family-owned, comfortable setting near 43rd and State Line Rd.

Need another reason to try them out?  Enjoy a buy one, get one entree on your first visit, and earn a free entree every ten visits after that.  All you need is the free Lantern app to do it, so go try Cupini’s today!

Shop Local – Nov. 23 7am-7pm


By now, you probably know that we are big supporters of shopping locally. It’s a theme we affectionately refer to as “Get Lit“. The idea is that if you take one purchase you make this month and make that purchase at a local business vs. a corporate chain, together, we can have a huge impact on our communities.

This Saturday, Nov. 23, is a great time to start! Lantern is joining forces with KCSourceLink, Local Ruckus, ChooseKC, and other groups to help promote Shop Local Saturday. There are over 400 locally-owned businesses participating!

So put a reminder on your calendar, find a business on Lantern or the KCSourceLink page to buy from this Saturday, and then get out and shop local!

The $10,000 Question: What’s a Loyal Customer Worth to Your Business?

Quick – how much is a loyal customer worth to your business?  How many loyal customers does it take to grow your business by $10,000 per year?  If you want to find out before you read any further, follow the link below and fill in two numbers specific to your business.

calculatorWhat’s a Loyal Customer Worth – A Simple Calculator

Don’t worry if you don’t know the answer; most businesses don’t.  By now, everyone has heard that loyal customers are valuable to your business.  For a few years, starting in about 2008, it seemed as if everyone forgot that temporarily.  The hot new trend was daily deals.  You get a big check for, say, $10,000 up front, and you get a bunch of new customers – seemed great.  Well, like the old adage says, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.  Many business owners gambled or simply didn’t do the math.  They put themselves on the hook to deliver goods or services that cost well in excess of the money they’d received.  Those customers never came back, and slowing but surely, they bled out that money over the following weeks and months, until they were left in a worse position than before.  Some were even forced to close their businesses altogether.

Opportunity: Smartphone Adoption 62% and Growing

Thankfully, the daily deals trend is dying out.  There’s a renewed focus on supporting main street vs. wall street, and on customer loyalty vs. mass advertising.  And while the principles of buying locally and customer loyalty remain tried and true, there is an incredible wave of new technology that allows local business owners to deliver them in a way that’s never been possible before.  ComScore, which publishes mobile phone statistics among other things, reported last week that 62% of all mobile phone users in the U.S. now own a smartphone.  That number is rising over 1% per month!  So within 2-3 years, almost every consumer in the U.S. will have a smartphone.

That’s great, you’re thinking, but how can I use that to help my local business?  That’s where Lantern comes in.  We realized that local business owners needed a better tool – to bring loyalty back to their businesses, to help them consistently attract new customers and steadily help them grow.  So we built Lantern.  And we built it so you can connect with your current and potential customers in the way that is quickly becoming the de facto standard: the smartphone.

A Community of Local Businesses

For huge corporate chains like Starbucks, building a great smartphone app is something they can accomplish on their own.  With over $13 billion in revenue in 2012, they can afford to spend a few million dollars and hire a team of engineers, marketers and business developers to go figure it out.  But if you own the Mom-and-Pop down the street, what are you supposed to do?

Lantern fills that need.  By creating a community of locally owned and independent businesses, Lantern provides you access to the same caliber of tools the big guys use.  Only instead of paying millions, it’s just $49 a month.  Thats less than $2 a day.  You’d be hard pressed to find a cup of coffee at Starbucks for that, let alone the multi-million dollar technology they use to grow their business.  And if you did the calculation, it probably takes just a few loyal customers to really start making a difference in your business.

Now is the time to act.  Lantern costs just $49 a month.  It takes just 5 minutes to setup.  Let’s get started.

Martin City Businesses Encouraged to Use Lantern

Martin City Businesses Encouraged to Use Lantern

Find out why Martin City’s community leaders are encouraging their businesses and community members to use Lantern.

14 Kansas City Startups That Are Making Us All Proud

14 Kansas City Startups That Are Making Us All Proud

Proud to be part of a great list of startups in KC!

Get Lit.

At the risk of going completely Jerry Maguire, eating two bad slices of pizza and staying up all night writing the Lantern manifesto proclaiming why we do what we do, we offer the following.

It’s Just a T-Shirt…or Is It?

A while back we made t-shirts that just said “Get Lit” on the front with just our flame logo (without our name).  People loved it.  It was edgy.  It was funny.  It was intriguing.  But to that point, no one really knew what it meant.  What they didn’t know is that “Get Lit” actually defines everything we do at Lantern.


Get Lit – Defined

“Get Lit” is a fundamental belief that each month, if you can take just one purchase you make at a national chain, and shift that to a local restaurant or retailer, everyone wins.  Local chefs get to create dishes they love, independent shop owners sell products they believe in, many of which are also locally made, people get to experience all the unique, wonderful things that passionate people right in their own backyard are creating because it’s what they love to do.  Local economies get stronger, communities prosper and our world becomes a little bit more colorful, interesting and diverse.

Get Lit is about the fire that burns inside passionate makers and owners and chefs.  It’s about an idea to buy local, that starts as a spark, becomes a flame and grows and grows until it illuminates an entire community.

At Lantern, our contribution to this idea is building tools that help small business owners connect with customers.  Tools that help them build a customer base that isn’t just looking for the next deal, but who are truly interested in exploring a city, often exploring places in their own city they never knew existed.  It’s about creating a shared value that exists between the shopkeeper and the customer, about cutting out the big advertiser in the middle and shifting those dollars back to the customers, rewarding them for their loyalty.  It’s about creating an elegantly simple user experience, that entices users to try something new and to return to places they’ve discovered and love.  National retailers have teams of people and loads of money to build tools to get their message out – local business owners don’t have that luxury.  But technology can change that.  By creating a community of small businesses using our tools, we can create economies of scale that provide access to those powerful tools, previously reserved for wealthy mega-corporations.  After all, when you take a bite of a juicy, delicious burger carefully crafted by a local chef, your palette doesn’t care if she has an MBA in marketing.  And now, the chef can focus more on creating amazing dishes, rather than being an expert at marketing a restaurant.

But back to the local vs. national idea.  Get Lit is not about being perfect or pretentious.  It’s not about boycotting national chains.  Even among our team, we all buy from national chains when it makes sense, either because of convenience or price or some other reason.  Get Lit is more about being conscious of where those purchases are being made and about shifting some of them to local retailers.

Join In

“That all sounds great,” you’re thinking, “but how do actually put any of this into action?”  Well, that’s where it’s really simple.

Pick one day this month.  Put an appointment on your calendar, set a reminder on your phone, put a sticky note on your computer…whatever it takes to remind you.


On that day, take one purchase you were going to make, and make it at a local business.  Could be a gift you were going to buy for someone, could be lunch or dinner at a local spot instead of a fast food chain.  Whatever it is, make that purchase from a local business.

You can use Lantern to help you find a local business and save a little money, giving you some added incentive, although that is not required.

Whatever it is you decide, pick a day, pick a business and buy local.  Then tell a friend.  Who knows, you could just start a revolution.

Get Lit.


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