Floor Show

Many Happy Returns

That's one thing all your customers have in common? They all have birthdays, and birthdays present a marketing opportunity for small-business owners, no matter what their industry. Do you own a restaurant? Offer customers a free meal on their birthdays. Retailers can offer a free gift; beauty salons, a free manicure--the possibilities are endless.

Offering birthday freebies is a highly personalized marketing gesture that makes customers feel singled out, cared about and pampered. It costs five times more to land a new customer than to keep an existing one, and treating your existing customers right is the easiest way to keep sales and profits in shape. What's more, customers to whom you wish a happy birthday are more likely to recommend your business to a friend or relative.

How can you keep track of your customers' special days? Set up a simple database or hire a consultant to help you. Even a file box of index cards can help you keep those dates in order.

Whatever route you choose, the goal is to create loyal customers. "Show your appreciation," says Vicki Lenz, author of Don't Forget Your Customers! (Affordable Marketing). "After all, they're keeping you in business."

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This article was originally published in the March 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Floor Show.

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