I want you to think of your favorite brand and tell me why they’re your favorite.

Is it their product selection? Is it how convenient they are to shop with? Maybe it’s that you like what they stand for, or respect how they run their business. No matter what your reasons are, something motivated you to choose them over a competitor.

Now I want you to picture yourself a year from now — do you still see yourself shopping with this brand? If so, are the reasons the same?

Customer motivations are constantly evolving.

The reality is that your motivations are bound to change over time for a variety of reasons. Whether something changes in your personal life that affects your purchase decisions or the brands you love change something about your business, what first drew you to a particular brand is not necessarily going to power your decision to keep shopping with them in the future.

This is the same for your customers. Each of your customers have a different reason they chose you instead of someone else, and one of those reasons might be your rewards program. Rewards are a great way to build a thriving brand community customers can’t wait to be a part of, but only if it meets their expectations.

A rewards program has to meet needs now

Starting a rewards program can be a daunting task. Not only is it brand new territory, but you also want to make sure it helps you achieve your community-building goals quickly. As a result, you might be tempted to put off launching your rewards program so that you can make sure you’ve “gotten it right.” Unfortunately, this is the biggest mistake you can make.

When you try to accommodate everyone, you end up serving no one.

If you never actually launch your program, you won’t be able to encourage any customer’s motivations. Too often, businesses waste time trying to fit every incredible rewards feature into their program before launching but more is not always better.

The things that motivated your customers 6 months ago are not what motivates them today.

By the time you build a program based on what motivated your target customer six months ago, their motivations will have changed — just as your have with your favorite brand. Expecting your customers to stay the same is a dangerous game, and one that you’ll never be able to win.

Growth is part of any successful rewards program

Before you get discouraged, let’s put this into perspective. Has your favorite brand ever updated their customer experience in ways that made it better? I’m going to guess the answer’s yes, and that joy you felt after experiencing those changes for the first time are what your customers will feel as you continue to refine and grow your rewards program.

The world's best reward programs understand the need for experimentation and growth.

A rewards program is not a set-it-and-forget-it tool. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. The best reward programs in the world are constantly making changes to accommodate their evolving audience and new products. Each of these features influence what motivates customers to choose them first, pushing them to always be critically assessing and reworking their rewards program.

This growth cycle is what separates a successful program from those that are “just ok.” Paying attention to what your customers need helps you lay the foundation for strong emotional relationships that extend beyond a single purchase and help establish your brand as their favorite.

Your rewards program needs to be flexible

The success of your own rewards program relies on your ability to make changes quickly and effectively. If you need to put invest a lot of development resources, time, and work into making a small change, you’re probably going to opt to not make any changes. This approach is going to stunt your community growth and leave your program feeling redundant very quickly.

Although it's tempting to build your own program, it impairs your ability to stay flexible and relevant.

So what’s the solution? The best way to build a program that’s both effective and agile is to not do it yourself. When you use a platform that allows you to actually understand your customers’ motivations and build for them yourself, you free yourself up to focus on other valuable parts of your community experience like value-add marketing and other retention strategies.

When you build a program with the intention to make changes as you grow, your set yourself up to meet the needs of each and every customer. At the end of the day, you should be designing a program that makes your brand the answer to my first question: what’s your favorite brand?

With a flexible rewards program built with your customers in mind, their answer should always be yours.