You probably have a mental list of your top customers: the folks who refer you business without being prompted and remind you why you love what you do so much. You probably want to strengthen your relationship with these customers and make sure they become repeat clients -- but how can you do that without being annoying or sales-y?
Create a VIP experience! Find new and exciting ways to treat your best customers like the very important people they are. The more you are a joy to work with, the more likely your best customers are to come back for more (and maybe bring a friend or two with them).
There are many, many creative ways to make a customer feel special. You can:
- Create a loyalty program: if they buy 5 X, they get the 6th free!
- Create a referral program: for every referral they make, they get $10 in credit towards their next purchase (and their referral gets a free sample).
- Send them a handwritten thank you note: be sure to include a discount!
- Let them lock in this year's prices for next year: if they order again before a certain date, they get special pricing.
- Create a newsletter: include special deals and discounts just for being a VIP.
- Host a VIP event: only customers are invited!
- Send them a gift: Greetabl is a neighboring startup in St. Louis (where my company is at), and they specialize in thoughtful gifts without any of the effort.
If you're short on time, I would suggest starting with a loyalty or referral program (don't have one yet? Here's why you should). Think of something that you can reward a VIP with that will encourage a longterm relationship. Here are some examples:
If you offer a low cost product that people will order frequently, consider a "buy 10 get the 11th free" model. Coffee places and movie theaters do this frequently (and think of how often you go to Starbucks now that they give you stars whenever you buy your favorite drink). Encourage people to get different kinds of products or hit up different categories in order to receive the benefit (another reason why Starbucks has a "hopscotch" model now).
If you offer a more expensive service, consider an add-on. For example, my masseuse has a monthly massage program. Because I've subscribed to get a massage once a month (which gives him more money in the long run), I get an aromatherapy treatment and a special drink with each service. It costs him a few extra dollars per visit, but he gains a lot more because now that I get massages monthly, instead of every other month.
Remember: even though your loyalty program is providing extras, you are creating more business that wasn't there before. You are filling gaps in behavior (either by encouraging someone to buy more in quantity, frequency, or variety), which makes you more money.
To get started, you can email your MIP (most important person) and tell them that you're piloting a new loyalty program:
"Hi VIP! As a thank you for being such an awesome customer, I wanted you to be the first to know about my new loyalty program. From now on, for every X you buy, I'll include and extra Y for free. Since you've already purchased X from me in the past, I'll throw in a free Y right now! You can claim it within the next 30 days.
Let me know if you're interested in participating, and if you have any feedback! I really appreciate having your business, and I'm excited to continue working with you in the future :)"
Your Homework: Craft a reward for your VIPs, and contact your most important customer with their goody! Check out the last 4 paragraphs of this email for an exact how-to on executing your new loyalty program.