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That Time Again?

Loyalty programs remind customers to buy from you.

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This story appears in the July 2007 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Kristie Lee Wagner's Chicago stationery store, An Jé Nu, not only sells cards--it can also keep track of customers' special occasions. Ninety-nine bucks a year will land up to a dozen holiday or special- occasion cards in customers' mailboxes two weeks before each big event. They can sign and mail the cards themselves or, for an additional fee, Wagner, 30, will even give them the right words to say, creating yet another layer of added service--and revenue--to her shop.

Innovative customer loyalty programs like Wagner's can give customers a reason to choose your shop over one of your competitors. Looking for creative loyalty ideas? Retail consultant Jerry Robertson, author of Shocking Truth to Retail Success, suggests sending a greeting or small gift, along with a coupon, to honor birthdays, anniversaries and other life events. Wish lists are also easy--keep a list of customers' wants and contact info for spouses or loved ones, and notify them a few weeks before the customer's special day. While Robertson says these actions would likely be free to customers, labor-intensive services like Wagner's--which also add value, save time or solve a problem--can command a fee, making them even more beneficial.

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