Small Business Customer Appreciation

This year has been so challenging for most of us. Many small business owners have had to pivot completely (I nominate that word for the “small business word of the year”), implement smaller incremental changes, or somehow make do with tighter budgets. As anxious as we are to leave 2020 behind, before we set our sights on the new year, let’s pause and remember to be grateful. The fact you’ve come this far is something to be thankful for.

None of what’s gone on this year happened in a vacuum. Almost everyone involved in your business has suffered as well, including your suppliers, vendors, employees, independent contractors, and customers.

So any expression of gratitude will be very much welcomed and appreciated. We can’t cover everyone here—suffice it to say you should thank your staff for everything they’ve done this year under extraordinary circumstances.

But I want to talk about thanking your customers. A study from Valassis taken earlier this year shows:

  • 13% of customers added some new brands to their standard purchases
  • 13% took the opportunity to discover new brands

But 48% of customers continue to buy their usual brands. Those are the loyal customers you should thank. This not only rewards them for being loyal customers but adds a positive customer experience and cements customer relationships.

I know your holiday budgets are likely tight, so here are some low-cost ways to thank your customers.  

  1. Send a card or personal note. Sure, we all expect to get holiday cards in December. But not that many businesses send Thanksgiving cards. Because it’s unexpected, a Thanksgiving greeting card or note is more likely to stand out.

    You could even send a specially designed email card. Personalize the message so your customers know you’re thinking of—and thanking them.

  2. Give a gift certificate or gift card to your business. This will end up costing you some money (the denomination on the card), but it will bring a customer into your store, your office, or drive them to your website, where they’ll likely spend more than the face value of the card. You want to make the gift worth their while—so I’d suggest at least a $10 card.

    Don’t make the card non-transferrable. That way, the customer can regift the card, which can bring new consumers to your business.

  3. Make it public. Think about highlighting your best customers. Make November “Why We’re Grateful” or “Customer Appreciation Month” and feature a different customer every one or two times a week.

    Connect the post to your business. If you own a bookstore, have them talk about their favorite books. If you’re a hairstylist, they can recount the worst hairstyle they ever had. They can share a funny or serious story. Post a photo of the customer, too—visuals draw people in. Promote (with permission, of course) these posts on your social media platforms. The featured customer will likely share it on their channels as well, further spreading the word about your business. (Don’t label the posts “Our Best Customers” since they might make your other customers feel ignored.)

  4. Surprise! Who doesn’t love to be surprised? You might want to reserve this tactic for your very best customers since it will be a bit more costly. You can send a free gift from your inventory, offer a free upgrade, or a substantial discount on their next purchase or appointment. Make sure to thank them when you send the surprise.
  5. Send a gift. While sending holiday gifts to customers and clients isn’t a new idea, sending it at Thanksgiving is still relatively rare. You don’t have to break the bank—most everyone loves getting a tin of cookies or basket or gourmet chips and dips, etc. are a long-standing tradition, but the key is to make them personal and thoughtful.

No matter what you do, make sure to thank your customers for sticking with you this challenging year.

Want more advice about the best ways to thank your customers. Your SCORE mentor can help. Connect with one today.

And—I want to thank you all for reading.

About the Author(s)

 Rieva  Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is president and CEO of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog

CEO, GrowBiz Media