I was introduced to Maker's Mark Amabassador Club by my friend Chaz Yoon (LivingProof.com, previously a colleague at eBay). Chaz described it as one of the most unique and compelling "VIP customer" programs. VIP program is a bit of a misnomer... since anyone who registers qualifies as a VIP. But registration alone signifies user activity and allows Makers Mark to continuously engage with fans.

What do ambassadors get?

- To start, their name etched on a barrel of premium whiskey that is aging. Photos during maturation are included. The concept of buying my own personalized whiskey is strange and fun.... and effective. I will certainly buy my own whiskey!

- Access to deals, events and special products (similar to wine clubs)

- A really unique holiday gift... which has to be relatively expensive to create and deliver. It's brilliant.

So how does this apply to you?

1. It doesn't take much to make customers feel special. Just some creativity and fun.

2. VIP programs can apply to more than just your highest spenders.

3. In a world of competition, differentiation comes from product, branding and customer relationships.