The founder of Wal-Mart, Sam Walton, once said that appreciation and praise are "Absolutely free and worth a fortune."
Do you agree? If you own a business, there's no doubt you appreciate each and every customer that comes through your doors.
How can you give back to the people who loyally buy your products or services? One of the best ways is to host a customer appreciation event.
Whether you've hosted many similar events or 2019 will be your first, here are 10 tips to ensure yours is a smashing success.
1. Match the Event to Your Product
Before you can host a great customer appreciation event, you first need to know your customer demographics.
Who buys your product or service? Is it college-aged students, families with children, or retirees? Are they the type of crowd who would enjoy a formal black-tie affair, or would an outdoor barbecue be more appropriate?
If you sell a luxury product, consider hosting a smaller, more intimate event where you can provide VIP service.
2. Invite Spouses and Children
Unless you're hosting a very small, high-end event for your customers, you might get the best response by inviting their families along.
Businesspeople are busy people, and most enjoy the opportunity to spend time with their families. Taking their spouse and children along to a fun weekend event gives them the perfect chance to do so.
As you're making your guest list, about 75% of invitees should be current customers. The remaining number should be strong leads or potential clients you hope to "wow" at your appreciation event.
3. Host a Drawing for Freebies
Everyone loves freebies, so why not host a fun contest with a great prize giveaway?
You could have everyone drop in a business card or go with old-fashioned raffle tickets. If you and your customers are tech-savvy, you could also host a contest through your website or social media pages.
The point is to get your customers excited and involved. In addition to your "grand prize," you might also give away coupons for free meals or coffee or a discounted service or product.
4. Create a Customer Appreciation Video
You don't always get the chance to say a personal "thank you" to every customer who comes into your store.
At your appreciation event, you'll have the perfect chance! Round up your staff and create a short and sweet thank you video to show during the event. After the event, consider posting it on your website or social media pages for those who couldn't attend.
If appropriate, thank customers or companies by name. They'll be impressed and flattered that you took the time to show such gratitude.
5. Give Away Plenty of Swag
No customer appreciation event would be complete with a little swag. (Everyone loves free stuff, remember?)
Custom pens are a favorite item, and your customers will think of you every time they write with it. You might also include water bottles, coffee mugs, lip balm, or other fun swag items.
Want to go the extra mile? Send everyone home with a free pack of cookies, brownies, or candy. They'll remember the gesture long after they've enjoyed the sweets.
6. Start a Loyalty Program (With Rewards)
If you don't already have some sort of loyalty rewards program, a customer appreciation event is the perfect place to roll it out.
Hand everyone a punch card to present when they make purchases, with a "buy 10 get 1 free" or similar offer. If appropriate, you could set up a similar rewards system through your website or social media channel.
Reward customers for liking or sharing your posts or "checking in" when they arrive at your shop. Make sure the reward you offer is incentive enough for them to stick with and use the program.
7. Rent a Fun Photo Booth
Even in our highly digital age, people still get a kick out of old-fashioned photo booths. In fact, they've experienced a recent surge in popularity.
Rent a booth for the event along with fun dress-up items. Silly hats and glasses, colorful bowties, and other accessories will have your guests laughing and snapping photos all night long.
Best of all, they're sure to put those pictures on their fridge when they get home. Every time they open it, they'll see the photos and think of your company (and the fun they had at your appreciation event).
8. Include an Activity or Two
A photo booth isn't the only activity you might include. Depending on the nature of your event and who you're inviting, here are some other ideas to consider:
- Barbecue or cookout
- Fishing trip
- Golf outing
- Darts, horseshoes, or cornhole
- Photo opportunities with local celebrities or classic cars
- Pony rides or a petting zoo (if inviting children)
- Live music
Another idea? Team up with another business or a local sports team and host a community car wash.
9. Handwrite Thank You Notes
When's the last time you received a handwritten note?
Few people take the time to write a note to their closest friends or family members when it's easier to send a text or email.
Imagine the impact it will make on your customers if they leave your event with a personally handwritten and signed note from you and/or your staff members. This is a sure way to "wow" them beyond their expectations.
10. Donate to a Local Charity
A final way you can go above and beyond at your event is to make donations to a local charity in your customers' honor.
This could be a homeless shelter, an animal rescue center, or another worthy cause in your community. Make the announcement at the event and give them something to take home to commemorate the donation.
This shows your customers that as they continue to support your business, your business is happy to support the local community.
Final Thoughts on Customer Appreciation
There's no better way to build loyal clientele than by showing genuine customer appreciation.
Put these tips into practice at your upcoming event, and you're sure to create many more lifelong customers.
Looking for more great gift ideas for your best clients? Check out our recent post on the topic.