50 more ways to give back to your customers.

In my last post I provided some ways to show your customers that you really do appreciate them. I want to build on that post now with 50 more ways, in case you need more variety! Thanksgiving isn’t the only time of year to show you care!

More rewards! Rewarding loyalty validates a customer’s decision to support you.

  1. Have a raffle for customers. Give them tickets with a chance to win some merchandise or a gift card. It’s useful for getting customers to register for an email list.
  2. Let them test your wares. For example, give people a tastes in your stores. Trader Joe has counters dedicated to cooking treats for shoppers.
  3. Surprise customers with special, unexpected treat in their package.This is a good way to get them to test new products.
  4. Host a live clinic to help customers use your product. Be a resource for customers. It’s particularly good for craft, electronics and software.
  5. Provide free related service. It can be useful for a drugstore, pet store or animal clinic. Dermatologists often give free cancer screenings to new patients.
  6. Give free mini-classes. Everyone likes to expand their knowledge especially when it comes to activities that they’re passionate about. This is a great way to entice new users.
  7. Offer another service for free. Entice customers during slow periods. You don’t want to hurt sales during your prime usage. For example, a car wash may give a special polish.
  8. Celebrate the day. Offer customers something special that’s out of the ordinary. Again the idea is to drive traffic during your slow periods.
  9. Use your store or office to have a reading book reading or special speaker. Build a real-life community around your customers. Do this off hours so that you’re not interrupting work or business.
  10. Host a book club. It can be on a subject related to your business or just a benefit for your customers. The goal is to get people into your store and to have a positive experience.  Knitty City, a Manhattan knitting store, has a monthly book club not related to yarn.
  11. Provide online real-time forums. Think in terms of free training or a talk to reach a wider audience.
  12. Put out treats for shoppers. Think broadly. It can be a bowl of candy near your cash register or on a table. Also, don’t overlook their four legged friends who like treats or even water in the hot weather.
  13. Deliver orders for free. Expand your reach. This only delights if it’s not something that you do regularly. Think bookstore. This is a great way to expand your offering.
  14. Offer free shipping and handling.  Since this has become such a required part of online marketing, it doesn’t apply for most online retailers. It works for retailers such as department stores and other local business like dry cleaners. Before you offer this, make sure that it makes sense financially.

Let’s party! The quickest way to a customer’s heart is often via the stomach.

  1. Throw a party for your customers. Knitty City has cake and discounts to celebrate its birthday.
  2. Join us for coffee.  Open early with coffee and breakfast treats to give a group a special time to shop.
  3. Need a coffee break? Put out coffee and cookies to lure customers in. Banks often do this to make using the bank a social event.
  4. Offer them a drink. Get customers in to relax after work. This can be an unusual treat for service organizations. Wine shops often have tastings to get customers in.
  5. Bring the kids. Offer special activities for children, such as a special class, or even just babysitting.
  6. Honor your BFFs. Get customers to bring their friends in with a special offer. Make it a “Girls Day” promotion.
  7. Buy one, send a gift to friend. This is another spin on the Buy one, Get one free offer.
  8. 72. Host movie night. For example, Lion’s Brand Studio shows a movie with a knitting scene, the last Thursday of the month.
  9. Throw a pajamas party for kids. Invite kids to your store for an evening party.
  10. Take the party to your customers. Throw a party at a customer’s home like an old fashioned Tupperware party.
  11. Help them get there. Think about providing transportation to help customers get to your location. This can be great for non-drivers or older patrons. For example, Flying Fingers has a yarnmobile that picks up customers in New York City and drives them to their suburban location. The brightly decorated van gets lots of attention.
  12. Offer special services for targeted audiences. Use slow times to target select groups of customers.
  13. Make them feel special. Take advantage of a velvet rope promotion for a special segment of your customers.

Celebrate important occasions with your customers. This includes their birthday, their anniversary, graduation or even the anniversary of their shopping at your establishment.

  1. Send birthday email. Remember you can just collect the month or month and day of a customer’s birthday. Be sensitive to the fact that women won’t want to reveal their age.
  2. Recognize your customers’ birthdays with a birthday card. This isn’t an opportunity for promotion but rather it’s about your customers.
  3. Add your birthday wishes for customers on Facebook.
  4. Highlight your customer’s birthdays on your website. Make customers feel special by mentioning them.
  5. Create a special birthday recognition board in your store or office. It’s a great reason to ask for additional personal information to build your customer files.
  6. Send customers a special promotion for their birthday. A lot of retailers offer special birthday promotions for the day, week or month of your birthday.
  7. Send email reminder of for important occasions. This is a great idea for forgetful husbands and grandparents.
  8. Text customers to remind them about birthdays and anniversary.Remember you need permission to use this channel.
  9. Call to remind customers about special dates like birthdays and anniversaries. This is good for florist and related products. Be careful that you’re not leaving a message on a family phone number.
  10. Send customers anniversary cards. Note this applies to personal anniversaries and those related to shopping with your organization.

Make a donation. These suggestions are a win-win. You support a good cause and increase the likelihood customers will shop from you.

  1. Donate a portion of sales to charity. Let customers know that you will donate a portion of your sales up to a certain limit.
  2. Provide place for charity to meet. This can be very useful, especially since groups can have trouble finding meeting places.
  3. Get involved in a charity cause. Knitters often do this in the form of red scarves, chemo caps and afghans.
  4. Offer customers a discount for making a donation. This is another spin on matching donations.
  5. Provide a location to donate items. This can be very helpful for a not-for-profit that has limited physical presence.
  6. Give leftovers to charity. This is a good idea for food shops and restaurants for food related goods that have an expiration date.
  7. Be green! Recycle products that you sell such as plastic bags, ink cartridges and batteries. Customers like to patronize shops that are green.
  8. Allow a not-for-profit (NFP) to promote their programs in your shop window. For example, Zabars in New York has a promotion for the JCC in its neighborhood. (Here’s some examples of NFPs promoted in shop windows.)
  9. Put flyers for not-for-profits in your shopping bags. This cost effectively helps to distribute information for an NFP.
  10. Insert flyers for a not-for-profit in your packages. Another distribution method.
  11. Offer not-for-profit “Take ones” near your cash register. Get customers’ attention by placing flyers for a NFP at the checkout.
  12. Promote a not-for-profit on your shopping bag. Here’s another way to support a NFP. (Here’s more information on shopping bags.)
  13. Give a notfor-profit product for a raffle. Show your support for an organization while getting some publicity for your store.

Remember, your goal is to delight your customers by showing that you care. It’s not just another promotion conduit. Regardless of which of these options you choose, assess the impact on your business. This includes a wide variety of options such as improved customer good will, incremental sales, and additional press visibility. As with any marketing initiative, it’s important to test a variety of alternatives to see which one(s) perform best. To keep your customers delighted, consider using an assortment of options through out the year.