How Much Does it Cost to Say Thank You to a Client?

http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=view&id=1105757Whether you’re just starting out in business and only have a few clients or you’ve just celebrated reaching the $20 million mark, saying thank you to customers is a vital task. You can not assume that because someone is working with you that he knows you appreciate his business. Before they even ask, “how much does it cost to say thank you to a client,” I often hear business people say they can’t afford it.

There are really two parts to the answer of how much you should spend on saying thank you to clients. First, you need to know how much a client is worth to you. In some businesses, a client may be worth $100 a year. In other businesses, one client could be worth $50,000 in the same time frame. A key point is that in either situation, a client could be worth even more, could send even more business your way, if you make the time and effort to show your appreciation.

Say you sell a $100 study guide that people buy one time. You might think it’s a waste of money to spend anything on saying thank you to the customer, since it’s not likely she’ll buy another. However, investing just $1.00 in a note card, $0.46 in a stamp and a few minutes to handwrite a thank you could inspire the recipient to tell a friend about your guide. Once you get a referral, now your small investment in appreciation is worth an additional $100.

For higher value customers, you may choose to invest more in saying thank you. Your plan may include sending a different $30 gift every other month. Or sending a $200 gift once a year in honor of the first day of summer. It’s your business, you get to decide what makes sense for you. The point is, by employing client appreciation as a marketing tool, you’re increasing the likelihood your customer will send you more business herself, as well as improving the odds you’ll get referral business from her.

The second part of the answer to how much does it cost to say thank you to clients is found in another question. How much will it cost you to NOT say thank you? What is the value of the business you will lose – and not even know about! – by not showing appreciation. If you forgo investing $45 in a thank you gift to strengthen the relationship with your client and that client leaves when your competitor comes calling, how much has that cost you?

All selling, whether selling business to business or business to consumer, is people to people. And people like to feel important and special. By letting clients know you value their business and your relationship with them is valuable, you are making them feel good. You WILL be rewarded for doing so, both karmically and financially.

The quick answer to the question is, it depends. Make your decision of how much to spend on saying thank you to a client based on factors relevant to your specific business, How much a client is worth? How much does it cost to get a client in the first place? How competitive is your industry?

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Saying Thank You to Customers in October

October is another great time to say thank you to customers. Unlike in December and even November, your clients are not inundated with cards, gift baskets and goodies this month. That means your kind gesture will make you look like a rock star stand out. And who doesn’t want that?!

There are plenty of special occasions to share your appreciation and show your thanks to customers this month. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. You could go with a dog-themed gift or make a donation to a local shelter. It’s Apple Month; send a jar of delicious, organic apple butter. It’s Eat Better, Eat Together Month, which means you could put together baskets of simple and healthy dinner ingredients, such as whole wheat pasta and sauce or wild rice and lentils. October is National Book Month, so buy a case of your favorite book and share it with everyone. It’s National Caramel and National Popcorn Poppin’ Month; you could easily tie those two together in a yummy snack. In honor of Pizza Month, send a pizza making kit. To make this one even more interactive, ask your clients to then send you pictures of their pizza creation, or post them on your Facebook page.

Also in October:
National Food Bank Week, 14-20. Create a promotion that encourages your clients to donate canned goods to their local food bank.

World Vegetarian Day – share a veggie or bean soup mix or recipe.

Balloons Around the World Day – how fun to have a bouquet of balloons delivered to special clients.

National Chess Day – share chess sets or the more edible chess cookies.

International Top Spinning Day – send out those old-fashioned wooden tops and I guarantee your recipients will play with them all week.

World Pasta Day – again with the pasta, choose a package of funky shapes for extra attention.

Plush Animal Day – find your favorite animal and send a few out with a note tied around its neck, or attached to its paw. Better yet, make a donation to the World Wildlife Fund and you can choose which animal you want to “adopt.” Then they’ll send one of those plush animals to you or your recipient.

National Candy Corn Day – no one eats this stuff any other time of the year. Fill up some decorative bags and send one to everyone.

And of course there’s Halloween at the end of the month, giving you a great opportunity to send caramel or candy apple kits or an assortment of your favorite candies. Non-food items like masks or witch fingers are fun too!

You’ve got no excuse not to implement one of these creative ideas for reaching out and strengthening those client relationships this month.

You can debate the statistic of whether the cost of acquiring a new customer is five, seven or nine times greater than the cost of keeping current ones. What’s not up for debate is the fact that it’s much more cost effective to keep the ones you have, which is why customer thank yous seem like a worthwhile investment to me.

Need help coming up with creative gift ideas to reward loyal customers? Reach me at lori @ zenrabbit.com and let’s brainstorm.

Most People Don’t Matter

It’s a funny thing about people. They say they want x, y or z, but are completely unwilling to commit to getting it. You’ve heard the phrase “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Most people pay that lip service. They “believe” it, but when it comes down to brass tacks, it’s easier for them give up than to figure out the way, and so they do.

Seth Godin’s blog post today is titled “Most People.” Read it. Has this been your experience? Maybe it describes people you know. The part I take out of it and find relevant to what we’re doing here in regards to increasing customer retention and loyalty is that “most people aren’t going to buy what you’re selling” but that’s okay because your best customers are not “most people.”

Look around. Most people either do not care about customer service or don’t know how to deliver it – that much is quite evident in many customer experiences you’ll have this week. But the ones who do are the ones whose businesses are thriving, regardless of what’s happening in the economy.* They are not deterred by the idea that most people aren’t their customers. They are driven to find the ones who are and start conversations with them. Realize that it may take some persistence until those best customers recognize how you are not most people. Don’t be discouraged, like most people would be. YOU are okay with staying on track and weeding through most people to get to your best customers.

You are not doing what you’re doing for most people. Whatever your industry or profession, YOU are offering something very special and it’s only for your best customers. Understand your best customers are different from someone else’s best customers. This is why the idea of competition as a market force is on its way out.

Now once you connect with those best customers, it behooves you to continue treating them as valuable. Taking the actions necessary to make sure they know you appreciation their business is imperative. Consistently saying thank you to your loyal clients is an investment of resources most people won’t make. Good thing we’ve already established that you’re not most people.

*If you deliver fantastic customer service and your business is not thriving, it’s simply because not enough people in your target market know about you. That’s easily fixed through better marketing. Need help coming up with creative ideas for getting the attention of your ideal clients? Let’s set up a short, complimentary call to see if you can benefit from a full-out 2-hour strategy session.