Ways to Say Thanks There are strategic techniques to show appreciation to your clients all year long -- techniques that benefit their companies and yours.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
If you are like most business owners and entrepreneurs (and your momma raised you right) at this time of year you focus on how to thank those who do business with you all year round. Beyond gifting now in the holiday season, there are five things you can do to show your thanks and appreciation.
These practices also make your customers, clients and patients the center of your marketing, giving them recognition and celebrity status while helping you to build your brand. (Win, win, win and win!)
Besides sending an actual gift of thanks (note to my vendors: I like things that sparkle), put one or two of these practices in place to grow trust with your customers, clients, patients and prospects:
Forget stock photos. First of all, they look terrible. Second, they are a waste of money. Third, they look terrible.
In your marketing, use pictures of actual customers on your website, in your ads, your marketing materials, etc. We've split-tested it for our clients and the actual customers win every time when it comes to results.
Make their stories your stories.
In the content you share in your marketing, such as newsletters and blogs, instead of making your marketing about you, feature the successes of your customers. Tell the story of their problem before working with you and then after they had success with your business. If you can include actual tangible results, even better.
Related: 9 Ways Startups Fuel Great ROI From Their Existing Content Marketing Strategy
This practice elevates your customer to celebrity status, making them the center of your marketing, and gives your prospects "someone who says so besides you" proof. And the ROI for pieces like this can be huge. A piece I wrote about our financial advisor clients more than two years ago, still delivers clients to this day and is responsible for over a million dollars worth of business in my firm.
Q&A for ROI.
Create a regular feature of interviewing your customers in your content. This not only builds social proof to your prospects, but it makes for more interesting content for your readers. Plus it gives something to your satisfied customer to share with friends and family.
Try doing a Facebook Live when visiting with a customer in person, or use a software such as Zoom.com to conduct the interview remotely. You can even simply send your customer a list of questions that they answer each month in your newsletter or your blog for a regular customer feature. Either way, you are creating content that makes both your customers look good and your business look good at the same time.
Perks for players.
Recently I was at one of my "most frequented" blow-dry bars (this mane needs constant taming) and tried to use a Groupon I had purchased. They wouldn't take it because I was an existing customer. Mind you, I had spent thousands of dollars at this business before. Their decision not to honor something that they were giving to people who had never spent a dime with them, was enough to ensure I would never go back in there.
Related: 3 Ways to Create Customer Experiences That Boost Sales
Your customers who are already paying you should come before your leads. They should get every perk and privilege from your business. In our firm, our private clients get a complimentary membership to Powerful Professionals Association, a free subscription to our paid newsletter, and complimentary tickets to our upcoming GameChangerMarketingSummit.com. Let your customers know they are your VIP's all of the time.
Remember what most forget.
We do send a holiday gift to our clients each year, but we also recognize a holiday most forget – the founding date of the firm. An entrepreneur's company's "birthday" (its date of founding) is often more important than their own birthday, and we send our clients a cake on theirs. We also send a fun birthday treat on their actual birthday and a "shock and awe box" to welcome them into the agency. Our clients are continually reminded that they matter to us and not just from Thanksgiving to New Years. Because they do.
Related: Tech Makes Employee Gifting This Festive Season Sweeter
If all of what we do for our clients seem overwhelming at first, don't let it. You don't need to go zero to sixty in implementing customer recognition. Just start with one or two of the above strategies to get started. Be consistent and your customer recognition marketing will pay dividends, both for your customer and for your company's ROI.