When we are trying to organise Christmas for family and home, it is easy for taking care of our business customers to be seen as just another item on the mile-long ‘to-do’ list.
However, making just a little effort can go a long way towards leaving your customers with a rosy glow - and your business name ‘front and centre’ on their desk – in the aftermath of the Holiday season when sales might otherwise fall off a cliff and your business needs all the help it can get!
Here are 7 ideas for keeping customers sweet, rewarding them for their business over the past year, and encouraging loyalty during the forthcoming one, without breaking your budget.
1. Give a small gift. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on this, in fact it is better if you don’t because gifts over £50 are taxable and your customer may not thank you for increasing their tax burden, even if they enjoy the gift ! (This includes Hampers and cases of wine).
2. Send a useful, branded item. This should be something very attractive and/or useful to the customer. Steer clear of the standard ballpoint pen with your logo, but perhaps a small pad of ‘post-it notes’ which will be put into action on return to the office in the New Year. Every customer is likely to find these useful, especially if you have them printed with some business information or perhaps relevant quotes, and – of course – your logo to remind them who sent the gift.
3. Run a time-limited, themed promotion. Offer a seasonal gift to everyone who spends over a certain amount in your shop on a particular day during the Christmas shopping period. Or hold an ‘exclusive’ shopping event – stay open later one evening and invite high-spending customers to browse and buy your new stock whilst being entertained with Christmas background music and indulging in mulled wine and mince pies.
4. Give away samples. Send customers and prospective customers a sample of a product or service they have expressed an interest in, but not yet purchased. If you offer a service, print off a voucher stating what the customer will receive when they redeem the voucher, and wrap everything prettily in gift boxes or baskets.
5. Pack of cards. If you sell products, art or craft items - or are an interior designer, architect or similar - select 10 professional quality photos of your work and have a set of postcards made from them, making sure to print your website and phone number unobtrusively on the back. Online printers can produce these cheaply, and it is easy to upload the photos to the internet and select the layout and wording required. It is worth paying a little extra for fast delivery so that you can wrap the postcards and send or deliver them to clients in good time. Whenever they need to write a quick note to a colleague, friend or family member, the cards will be handy and will remind them of your products.
6. Host an event. Not every business can afford to entertain clients (or employees) lavishly at Christmas or other holiday seasons. However, even a glass of Champagne or sparkling wine (even some of the reasonably priced British wines made by ‘Methode Champegnoise’ have had very good reviews) - with nuts, crisps or home-made canapés – will be much appreciated by staff and customers alike. Make sure that staff are well-behaved and will not embarrass your company in front of clients. If you are a sole trader (or craftsperson, artist or similar) get together with other solo entrepreneurs and share the cost of the event, inviting all of your respective customers and potential customers.
7. Gift service. Offer free gift wrapping to customers who buy items over a certain value, and offer to post them directly to the intended recipient. Wrap the gifts beautifully, label with a a personalised message from the buyer, and send them securely to arrive in good time for Christmas. You will make your customer look good in the eyes of the recipient, and they will thank you for that.