With the holidays just around the corner, this is a great time of year to really captivate customers. Virtually every business has some type of holiday promotion going on, but not all of them are equally effective at creating customer loyalty. I had my network of respected experts and entrepreneurs share their favorite special offers that created customer loyalty, whether they were on the giving or receiving end of it. Their answers are presented below in no particular order.
You may notice some similar concepts, but I kept the insights separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.
1. Pass it On
I donate to the local food bank on behalf of each of my clients. They get a thank you and recognition from the food bank, and I feel like I'm not adding calories, senseless expenses, or obligations and it's always a perfect gift. It makes a statement about both me and my clients, which we all appreciate.
2. Brains in a Box
We all have too much of everything. But more is good if we're talking knowledge. That's where we come in. We're experts at breaking complex legal information into bite-sized pieces. For students, this means great grades and admissions help. For professionals, a session means learning about an area of law or how to lower your legal bills and become a savvy client. Give the gift of a fun and informative Lawyer Up session. It'll fit everyone and will take up less space than a fruitcake!
3. Good Old Fashioned Thank You
Recently, we had dinner at a steakhouse named Roots in Summit, NJ. It is a bustling place with all the energy of a NYC steakhouse. What makes them unique is that every new customer receives a thank you call the day after they dine in the restaurant. When I received my phone call from our waiter asking me if we enjoyed our meal, the service and the atmosphere, I was just blown away. It means you care enough to say it.
4. Holiday Customer Loyalty
This is simple and easy. I send (2) cards, one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas. Each card is a message of appreciation and NOT solicitation. My desire and purpose is to reach out and thank them, not try and sell them anything. This has made a major impact because the cards are heartfelt and unusual in their pictures. I use Sendoutcards for this impact.
5. Success Takes a Vision!
We hear it all the time - we are our thoughts. A program I provide helps business owners create their Business Vision Statement. As a bonus for attending the event, I critique, for free, each attendee's vision statement. And I throw in an ebook on networking, too. So, they get the live program, the audio, instructions on creating a dream board , an ebook on networking smarter AND their Business Vision Statement critiqued -- all for under $50 bucks! I'll take that deal myself!
6. Guess It...Get It!
When we launched our website, for a 7-day period, we posted trivia questions to be answered and the first 2 responders to answer correctly would be awarded a gift with an underlying theme to the question. For example, if a question was answered pertaining to driving a car a certain distance, we would give a gift card for FREE gas. One, it related to the question and two, it was practical and could truly benefit the winner! Those winners continue to visit our site today.
7. Be Unique- Be Memorable
This is what we do... and have done for the last 15 years. We design, develop and implement unique promotional marketing and gifting ideas for our clients. It has to be unique, it has to be memorable and it has to dovetail with the brand. Think functionality and wow factor and you are on the right track. Here is our favorite at the moment. Ultimate Big Boy Toy... The Smartt Hanger. Please watch video attached. http://ht.ly/3aZY2
8. A Get Acquainted Pizza Lunch
I will call or visit a potential business client and ask if I can come in to give a presentation of my services, and I provide a get acquainted pizza lunch. This is a great way to create a relaxed atmosphere and capture their business. If it’s a small company, 10 or 15 large pizzas won’t break the bank and it’s worth it if I get their business. People tend to remember those who feed them! I have landed clients between bites. This method has brought new and repeat business.
9. No More Crappy Valentine's!
I created "No More Crappy Valentine's: A Night of Humor & Music with a Brooding Single Person." It was a one-woman show to promote my book, "Crappy to Happy" held in an independent bookstore. My partner went to the big box bookstore nearby and told patrons: "Did you know Randy Peyser is performing her "Crappy to Happy" show at the independent bookstore in 15 minutes? We filled the independent store because of her guerrilla marketing efforts and sold a lot of books.
10. One for YOU...One for ME
I once went to a mom and pop store in rural Michigan in search of a nice present for my sister. What made me walk into this particular store, was the 1-4-YOU AND 1-4-ME SPECIAL.
It was a gift certificate special promoting another major outlet store, not theirs. If I bought a gift certificate of $30 or more for my sister, they would thank me by giving me a FREE gift certificate of $20. At the time I thought it was a steal...NOW...I think it's a genius joint venture angle! Leverage partnerships!
11. Give One, Get One
This is a classic, but really awesome nonetheless, because you can give a gift and feel really amazing that you are spreading some love, but you get something too! It's like you're treating yourself to a nice present, when you actually mean to only give a gift.
12. Giftmize Your Product/ Service
Holidays are the season of giving, so you need to GIFTMIZE your offerings to make the best use of the season. Help your customers see your offerings as a great gift; help them buy & deliver it as a gift. One quick & easy way, whether you're retail business like a Spa or a service provider like a Business Coach, is to turn your offering into a gift certificate, allow buyers to add a custom message & print or better, ship it to them, so that they've something to hide under the tree or slip under the pillow.
13. Holiday Promotions
For a retail operation, one concept that works well with PREVIOUS CLIENTS is to offer them SPECIAL HOURS... only open to them, not the general public.
Make sure they know that you will be OFFERING THE LOWEST PRICES of the season on the items they select.
Offer them a CHOICE of PRE-OPENING or LATE HOURS. Be sure to enforce the INVITED GUESTS ONLY conditions at entry.
You can top the occasion off with refreshments. And the owners/managers should be there to greet invited guests.
14. Thanksgiving Cards
I have created a Thanksgiving greeting card with the photo you see to the left. Inside, I express my gratitude for the opportunity of knowing and serving my patients, for helping them solve the problems they face. I will send these out the week of Thanksgiving from my computer using a marvelous utility I have found. My vendor will print them, stuff them, stamp them and send them out for less than a dollar apiece.
15. WIN WIN WIN
For the last few years, I have offered autographed copies of my books "Capitalizing On Being Woman Owned" and "101 Winning Marketing Actions for Small Businesses" to consultants, accountants, attorneys, bankers or anyone whose clients are small businesses for them to give as holiday gifts to their clients. It was productive and rewarding because 1) it made sales for me 2) it provided a helpful, long-lasting gift for people to give their clients and 3) it helped the recipient.
16. Helping a Family
Our business promotion is that we will "adopt" two families and show them how they can save money using our principals and guidelines for Stop Wasting Money. Both families will have at least two children. One family will have at least one parent who is unemployed from this poor economic time in this recession.
17. An Unforgettable Gift
During the holidays, PrintResource has brought its top tier customers to the local Toys-R-Us, given them a budget, and let them shop 'til their heart's content. They have complete freedom to choose the toys. We meet them at the cash registers, pay for the toys (thousands of dollars), and our clients hand their toys directly to the chosen charity (who has a truck waiting). Every single client profoundly thanks us, and asks if they can be included next year. And yes, it creates long-term loyalty!
18. Gift Certs. to Build Your Biz
One of the most effective business promotions I have done is giving gift certificates with significant value to my best customers. I explain the system to my customer in person and include a note about the benefits of my services to the eventual receiver.
Your clients can then give them as gifts to their friends and relatives. You can make these gift certificates up to look like they’ve purchased them. The customers receive them with gratitude and so do the people who receive them.
19. Promoting Your Book
I will occasionally take less for Speaking Engagements with the option of promoting & autographing purchased copies of my book! This builds customer loyalty & team work. People really love my Self-help materials & Counseling. (And my Book & DVDs make great gifts).
20. Inspired By Dolphins
In most species, animals support those that are in need of help. Dolphins, for example, have been observed assisting sick and dying pod members. So, when it came time to determine what Holiday present we were going to give to our clients, the decision was easy - every year we donated 100 hours of my advertising agency’s time to a worthy not-for-profit organization … and we did it on behalf of all of our clients who made it possible for us to give away our time.
21. A Virtual Tree & Free Presents
I started an online virtual Christmas tree last year and got our members to submit free gifts for our online community and new visitors. The gifts were things like downloads and even actual products. Then, on Christmas day I posted a link to the virtual tree so everyone could go and get all of their surprises and presents! It was a complete hit! It created a win-win-win opportunity for all. It was such a huge success that I'll be doing it again every year. Who doesn't love presents and free stuff?
22. Fun and Practical Treats
I received a Gift Box from my printer (I do a lot of printing with them 🙂 ). The Box included a couple of calendars, chocolates and half a dozen brilliant turquoise ink pens. Of course, the chocolates were wonderful - but the turquoise pens stole my heart. I Looked all over for them. I finally asked the printer where they got them. I wound up having to place an order for a few hundred of the pens from the promotion company that sells them. I still use that printer! And I still use my turquoise pens!
23. Get Your Rudolph On
A promotional items company sent me a package of felt reindeer antlers and flashing Rudolph noses. I passed these along to my staff who were delighted to sport this holiday flair. The gift translated into a morale booster for the department and hero status for me, as the resident merrymaker. These logoed items turned into post-holiday business. While slightly pricier than its peers, this company won our business by filling us with holiday cheer. Festive, fun and savvy marketing!
24. Forced to Be Creative!!
With our business, we have had to be very creative. First, our product is relatively new, so people aren't familiar with what a Pambra's Bra Liner is. Throw in a poor economy and it’s a double whammy. We offer shops FREE fitting samples. This has gone over extremely well with the small shops. At Pambra's, we also list everyone on our web site since we only sell wholesale. We also offer mini posters FREE to place in dressing rooms.
25. Keep it Simple. Keep it Sweet.
Leave a sweet impression. It can be a food give away or a great recipe with a sincere wish for a wonderful holiday. That's all you need. It's about a connection that is made with your product that can be built on throughout the year.