First a quote from Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

Isn’t that the truth? We all want love and appreciation.

Showing customer appreciation can certainly go a long way in establishing trust and building that everlasting bond we want with our customers.

Many businesses spend more money to get new clients, customers and patients than what they spend to keep the customers they have. The biggest asset in any business is the customer database. Investing in your current customers is a smart way to more profits.

One thing we are working on in our own business is developing a customer appreciation program. We plan to recognize our top customers each month with some sort of gift or acknowledgment. This program is in addition to the things we already do such as sending thank you notes after each order (with money saving coupons if they purchase again within the next 30 days), rewarding them with gift cards for client referrals, and acknowledging birthdays, weddings, births, and other important life events. These things in themselves are a lost art in business today. Think about this. When was the last time you received any kind of personal correspondence from a company you do or did business with? Just adding this to your marketing mix will make a difference.

Here is a ”behind the scenes” look into some of the ideas we are considering. Quite possibly these ideas might be helpful to you or spark a new idea for your business to begin or enhance your own customer appreciation program.

1. Use the holidays.
Send Valentine’s Day candy and cards with the message, We Love Our Customers.
Deliver stockings with candy at Christmas.
Send baskets with candy at Easter.
Deliver Tricks or Treats at Halloween (dress up in costume for added fun).
Send flags or something else patriotic at Memorial Day or Fourth of July.

2. Use the seasons.
On a hot summer day, send some ice cream.
In the fall, send a pumpkin pie.
In the dead of winter, send some hot chocolate and a coffee mug with your logo.
On the first day of spring, send some daffodils.

3. Use your vendors. Use your resources.

Offer discounts you work out with your vendors especially for your clients.
Get your vendors to provide an educational seminar.
Who do you know who has specialized knowledge who would love the opportunity to provide helpful information and gain access to potential new clients?

4. Use education.
Send books you think might be helpful to your clients’ business or book on a subject you know your customer has an interest in.

5. Use invitations.
Invite your customers to breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Invite them to interesting events, seminars.

6. Use events.
Host an annual or quarterly appreciation party. Allow them to bring a guest (could be a potential new client). Some ideas-

Movie Party-rent out a theatre and show a first run movie, complete with popcorn, candy and beverage. Get the theatre to show your own video before the movie thanking your customers.

Host a Picture Day-maybe pictures with Santa or the Easter Bunny, maybe Halloween costume pictures. People love pictures especially when they are in them.Work out a special arrangement with a photographer for a discount in exchange for access to your clients.

Have a your own day at the local zoo, amusement park or water park.

Hold an event at a local attraction such as a museum. Be sure to take pictures and follow up with a thank you note and their picture in a special frame.

While it is necessary to always cultivate new business, in the end, our present customers are all we really have. They need to be made to feel that they are wanted and appreciated.

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Author: Kathy Jiamboi

Owner of Creativedge Marketing, where growth-oriented dentists find dental practice marketing strategies and advice to take their practice to a new and higher level.

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