Don’t you love this time of the year? It’s a time when we go out of our way to help others. Tap our feet to joyous music. Guzzle peppermint-, gingerbread- or eggnog-flavored drinks. Then there are the smart businesses that add client appreciation to their holiday checklist.
Surveys from various industries repeatedly show that it’s cheaper to retain clients than to find new ones. One way to keep them is to let them know how much you value them. Since the beginning of my business, I do little things for my clients to show I think of them and appreciate them. You can do this without spending a lot, and some suggestions only cost a little bit of your time.
If you’re tired of pulling your hair out for ideas, here are some to inspire you:
- Share a relevant article. When I come across an article or comic that’s related to my clients’ business, I share it with them. This shows that I’m thinking of them and that Icare about their business.
- Forward publicity opportunities. If you’re a member of Help a Reporter Out (HARO) or know reporters in need of an expert, forward them to your clients when you find a match.
- Make referrals. Hear someone asking, “Hey, do you know anyone who can do such ‘n such?” Refer the person to your client or give your client a heads up.
- Promote your clients. I watch my clients’ tweets, Facebook updates, newsletters, whathaveyou. If they make an announcement, win an award or make news, I’ll mention them on my blog or Twitter stream.
- Donate in your client’s name. If you already donate to nonprofit organizations, why not make it in honor of your client? Even better, keep track of your clients’ favorite causes and donate to those causes in their name.
- Write a note. This means writing, not typing. Handwritten notes are rare these days, so it’s a pleasant surprise whenever someone receives one. Every year, I send a handwritten note to all of my clients and others I wish to thank.
- Send a greeting card. Don’t stop with winter holiday cards. Consider birthdays, national holidays or a get well card. Add a handwritten note in the card for a personal touch. Although e-cards can work, receiving a card in the mail can have a bigger impact.
- Provide a testimonial. While it’s typical for clients to do the testimonial writing, you can do it for your clients, too. For example, I wrote one for a client who is an author and speaker since I had read his book and seen him in action.
- Review the client’s product or service. You and I are customers, too. I’ve written book reviews of clients’ books. But how do I avoid sounding like I’m kissing up to the client? I let the review speak for itself, knowing that a fake-sounding review does no good for the author, reader and me.
- Refer to print articles. Was your client mentioned in a print publication? Did an author you know have a book mentioned in the newspaper? Or you found an article or comic that you want to share. You could cut them and mail them, or scan them and email them. Some print articles are available online, so you can forward them or link to them.
- Touch base with your client. A phone call, an email or some other touchpoint is a great way to check in with your client and just ask how they’re doing — with no selling, and no business talk from your end.
We’ve presented suggestions for web worker stocking stuffers, but not all clients are web workers. Plus web workers may need to consider the cost of shipping gifts. You may need to find different gifts for your international clients due to customs and higher shipping costs.
- Gift cards. Not everyone likes coffee. Not everyone has X store. Before buying gift cards, consider client likes, dislikes and locations. Another possibility is a gift card from an online store with a wide selection. Keep in mind that there may be shipping costs.
- Books. The hardest thing about giving books is finding one you can buy in bulk at a discount that will please everyone. I’ve previously sent books about success and business inspiration. If you have the time and resources, you could select a different book for each client.
- Food. The first year I gave gifts to clients, I sent pecan pralines. Being from Texas, I wanted to send something that represented Texas. I did wonder about nut allergies, and sure enough, one client had an allergy, but she reported her kids loved the treat. The next year, I sent candy and popcorn without nuts. Coffee and tea are often winners, too.
- Useful giveaways. This year, I not only sent a little book to clients, but also a notepad made out of recycled material with my company logo on it. I use a few things that have a company logo on them because they’re useful. So in thinking about a customized giveaway item, I considered price and usefulness. Shirts are also great, but then you have to deal with the size dilemma. Even if you order them big, the client might feel insulted not realizing you were covering everyone with one size.
- Personalized gifts. Unlike giveaways that mention your company’s name, you can personalize a gift by inscribing it with the client’s name.
- Free product or service. Create a free product or service coupon based on your business offerings, or just wrap them up. If you’re an author, send a signed copy of your book.
How do you thank your clients?
Photo credit: abcdz2000