Thanking your customers can help boost loyalty and retention, so we asked business coaches for their best customer appreciation ideas for small businesses on a budget. Here are their tips.
1. Keep It Local
"We've found that supporting a particular charity or business a client supports builds the relationship and shows our clients that we care about things that they care about," says Bill Hughes, managing partner at Business Allies Group, LLC (@BusAlliesGroupL). He suggests showing your appreciation with:
- Gift cards to local businesses.
- Tickets for shows or sporting events at local venues.
- Charitable donations in your client's name.
Tapping into your community for client appreciation gifts strengthens your business relationship while supporting the local economy.
2. Promote Their Business
"If you’re in a B2B business, probably the best way to show your customers that you value and appreciate them is by passing them new customers," says Mitali Chopera, managing director and principal business coach at ActionCoach (@ActionCOACH).
Referrals aren't they only way you can promote your client's business. You might also want to go online to share their achievements, such as their:
- Media mentions.
- Speaking opportunities.
Remember: a referral often inspires people to reciprocate. Learn more in "How to Get New Business with Referrals."
3. Host an Event
- Dinner parties.
"Invite all of your best clients and tell them to bring a friend," he says. "That way you only pay the one-time investment for the event and spread your time across multiple customers."
4. Make It Personal
Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls, says she spent years sending branded holiday swag to her clients. Top customers got one kind of gifts; mid-tier and small got another. But then she came up with a twist: customize the gifts.
"My client who I met through our common college alumni network got college swag related to year-end Bowl Games," she says. "One movie buff got movie passes and coupons for treats at the theater."
It sounds expensive, but Arnof-Fenn says she actually spent less money on customer appreciation gifts. Even better? They had a bigger impact.
"People genuinely appreciated the thought that went into the gifts that were tailored to their personal interests. Whenever I run into them at networking events they almost always comment on how much they enjoyed their gift even years later," says Arnof-Fenn.
"In a retail shop, that might include remembering the name of a frequent customer," he says. "For a B2B company, that might mean paying attention when a customer mentions an upcoming event and asking about it when you see them later."
5. Use Social Media
Online social media and marketing coach Jenny Hale (@JenMilMarketing) says you can use social media to show your appreciation. Posting pictures of a customer using your product or retweeting their positive reviews nurtures the relationship. Plus, Hale says it offers "social proof that your customers are satisfied."
Most importantly, Hale says, "Customer appreciation needs to be genuine and help solidify the business' relationship with the customer."
For tips on how to use social media like a pro, check out "Social Media for Small Business: Do It Well in 2 Hours per Week."
About the Contributors
Paige Arnof-Fenn is the founder and CEO of global marketing firm Mavens & Moguls based in Cambridge, MA. Her clients include Microsoft, Virgin, and venture-backed startups, as well as nonprofit organizations. She graduated from Stanford University and Harvard Business School. A popular speaker, Arnof-Fenn's work has also appeared in Entrepreneur and Forbes.
Mitali Chopera is a business coach based in London who helps small- and mid-sized businesses run efficiently and grow profitably. Prior to this, she held leadership roles across Asia and EMEA in GoDaddy, Microsoft, GE, and PwC, with functional experience spanning across sales and marketing, customer service, process excellence, and P&L management.
Unable to serve for medical reasons, Jenny Hale made it her goal to help military families and veterans follow their dreams. She uses her entrepreneurial success and strong military background to teach veterans and military spouses how to use social media and marketing practices to increase the success of their entrepreneurial ventures. Learn more at The Military Social Media Marketing Guru.
Bill Hughes has a BS in accounting with over twenty years' experience as a CPA and business manager. Hughes currently manages a large medical practice that has consistently been ranked by the MGMA as one of the top performing medical practices in the nation. He specializes in preparation of personal and business income taxes. Hughes has been quoted in professional articles and has presented programs on budgeting, cost containment, and employee morale.
James Pollard is a marketing consultant who specializes in the financial services industry. He has helped thousands of financial advisors build their book of business and get more clients. He is also the founder of TheAdvisorCoach.com, a website dedicated to helping financial advisors improve their careers.
Karl Sakas, president of Sakas & Company, helps digital marketing agencies grow profitably. With more than 20 years of consulting experience, Sakas' work focuses on eliminating growing pains through operations, strategy, and leadership advice. He is also a frequent speaker at PRSA, AMA, and Hubspot conferences and TED Talk events.