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VOL. 129 | NO. 7 | Friday, January 10, 2014

Veteran Marketer to Discuss Loyalty at Chamber Lunch

By Andy Meek

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Chris Malone, a veteran marketer who has worked with organizations such as the NBA and The Coca-Cola Co., will be the featured speaker this month at the Greater Memphis Chamber’s Small Business Council program launch luncheon.


Malone also is the co-author of “The Human Brand: How We Relate to People, Products & Companies,” and he’ll be sharing key insights from the book with his audience Jan. 24 at the East Memphis Hilton, 939 Ridge Lake Blvd.

The event runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Malone will sign copies of “The Human Brand,” which attendees will get a copy of. He also will stick around to answer questions.

Beth Comstock, the chief marketing officer for General Electric, has described “The Human Brand” as a “must-read” for anyone who wants to understand how to earn customer loyalty and create enduring relationships with customers. Among insights from the book that he’ll share in Memphis, Malone will talk about why building customer relationships in the digital age is connected to our past, why “loyalty” programs often are costly, how companies including Panera Bread and Starbucks are developing customer loyalty through “warmth and competence,” and three principles for achieving sustained customer loyalty and profitable growth.

“I’m going to talk about the principal insights in the book, focusing on the psychology of customer loyalty and how better to apply that in business,” said Malone, a consultant and founder of Fidelum Partners.

At Fidelum, Malone has worked with hundreds of executives and organizations ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies.

“One of the points I’d make about the book is, I’d say, over the last few years it’s caused me to realize probably 50 percent of everything I was taught and learned at big companies was either no longer true now – or may never have been true,” he said. “It surprised me how much we take as conventional wisdom that’s probably not even a good idea.”

The co-author of “The Human Brand” is Dr. Susan Fiske, a professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton University. Together, she and Malone spent a few years studying dozens of brands, and Malone said he will show attendees of the Memphis event how to apply the insights they learned in the business world.

Much of it centers around a model Malone describes as the “warmth and competence theory.” It runs counter to what he said is a lot of what takes place in the business world today.

“For the past several years,” Malone and Fiske write in “The Human Brand,” “we have been researching how the application of (the) warmth and competence theory can help companies and brands strengthen their relationships with customers. Since June 2010, our collaborative research has evaluated more than 45 companies and brands.

“When we applied warmth and competence dimensions to Coca-Cola’s customer loyalty model, the predictive validity of the model among Coke’s most fervent drinkers went up by 146 percent. We uncovered the direct correlation between customer loyalty to Hershey’s chocolate and awareness of the philanthropic activities of its parent company. Our studies also pointed to warmth and competence as a major factor in why Johnson & Johnson has been able to maintain its strong reputation following several disastrous product failures, while BP and others have not.”

Malone has more than 20 years of sales, marketing, consulting and organizational leadership experience. Among other companies he’s worked for, he was chief marketing officer at Choice Hotels International and senior vice president of marketing at Aramark Corp.

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