Archive for November, 2012

The Marketing Power of Thank You

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

One of the most frequently overlooked tactics in small business marketing is providing thank you’s—both in words and in actions.

Most often, when a thank you is provided, it is to your customers, who provide you revenue directly. However, most often overlooked, is your business partnerships (both formal and informal), as well as your suppliers. These folks are also instrumental in your business success.

For example, has someone:

  • Referred a prospect to you, which turned into a sale?
  • Delivered supplies in time for you to deliver your products on time?
  • Made a personal introduction to someone inside another company, so you did not have to make a cold call?
  • Helped connect you to a specific LinkedIn contact so you could talk directly to the right contact within a corporation?

If so, it may not be enough to just say thank you, especially if you are hoping those same folks will help you again in the future. Instead, you might want to recognize their contribution to your success, ideally in some way that is commensurate with the amount of revenue they helped you to generate. In other words, if someone brings you $100,000 worth of business, a $25 gift card as a thank you probably will not make them feel appreciated. Although it is certainly better than doing nothing at all.

There are numerous ways you can do this:

  • Gift baskets
  • Event tickets, such as to a concert, play or sporting event
  • Dinner at a upscale restaurant
  • Movie outing, including dinner and/or refreshments
  • High-limit gift cards

Some small business owners do spend time thanking their customers, usually around the holidays, and many times using a thank you card (either in print or digital). Occasionally, gifts are given to customers.

As you may already know, sometimes gift costs need to be within the expense range defined by the gift recipient’s company, so that they do not risk the appearance of trying to unduly influence future business. In other words, you might not be able to give someone a very lavish and expensive gift, because that gift could potentially be misconstrued as a means of bribing someone to ensure landing future contracts or product purchases. That is why many companies restrict the value of the gift, which can be received by an individual employee. Sometimes that constraint can be as low as $25.

In those cases, you might need to get creative. Maybe you give small gifts to everyone at a supplier’s company. Or, perhaps find a way to customize an inexpensive gift, such as mugs, pens and pencils. Or, maybe you make a charitable donation in honor of the person, which is to a charity special to that person. (Note: During Dee McCrorey’s podcast interview of me on this same subject, she gave a great example of how one of her corporate vendors creatively got around this limitation. Click on the link below.)

Using social media, you can certainly also thank another business owner by doing things such as “liking” their business Facebook page or endorsing them on LinkedIn. That is certainly a gracious gesture, but might not fully demonstrate how much you appreciate their contribution to your business.

On the other hand, crowdfunding sites, such as Kickstarter, typically suggest you offer a rewards system, in order to both attract and thank backers. You might reward someone with things like your soon-to-be-manufactured product, branded widgets, or a party to celebrate the launch of your new film or artistic performance.

The most important thing is to let those people, who contributed to your success, know how much they are appreciated. Otherwise, those same people might think twice before offering to help your business again. Personalized help in extending the reach of your marketing is one of the most cost-effective types of promotion there is.

For additional ideas, check out Dee McCrorey’s podcast interview of me for “The Reinvented World.”