How to Use Promotional Products to Improve Customer Retention

Let’s start with a statistic. It will really make you think.

Studies show that 69% of customers who leave you (as a customer, donor, supporter, etc.) do so because of “perceived indifference.” They will leave you because they simply don’t think you care.

Seriously, think about that. Nearly 7 out of 10 lost customers come down to the fact that you didn’t show them that you gave a crap about them.

Customer Loyalty—The Stakes are High, But It’s in Your Control

This statistic both frightens and excites me.

On one hand, it means that my customers could leave me because I have just been careless and lazy. It means that if I am not careful, my competitors could swoop in and take my revenue…just by caring more!  Am I doing enough to show my customers, regularly, that I sincerely appreciate their business? Are you? The question itself seems scary.

And yet, on the other hand, it is an entirely fixable (and improvable) situation. If I am not doing enough to show them, I can fix it! It is totally within my power to do so. That’s a good thing. I don’t have to wait for some cosmic shift in the economy, or some other outside force to change. This is something I can fix all by myself. I just need to care more, and then follow through with actions to demonstrate that I care.

Create Systems to Improve Customer Loyalty

On the third hand (is that even possible?) I see this statistic about perceived indifference as an opportunity. It means that most businesses—and likely my competitors—are NOT caring enough about their current customers. That means I (and now you) can create systems that allow you to gain market share…through caring! How cool is that?

So how do we do it?

Let’s talk about two very concrete ways to ensure your customers always know you appreciate them.

Two Strategies for Customer Retention

Start a Habit of Sending Thank You Cards

It’s funny. Sometimes the things that make a big difference in your customer’s eyes are the simplest.

  • Send your customers a card on their birthday.
  • Send them thank you cards for their business.
  • Send them a holiday card.
  • Send them a Thanksgiving card.

Most people open their mail standing over the trash can because all we get are bills and junk mail. A heartfelt thank you card really stands out.

The reason most people don’t send out cards regularly is they lack a system.

Let’s face it; most of us have good intentions. But those intentions go out the window when we can’t find the right kind of card, or we can’t find a stamp, or we don’t have the person’s address.

We need to schedule a specific time each day (or week) that we send out cards. One of my favorite practices is to try to create a reason to send out at least one thank you card each day. Sometimes I send a card to thank a customer for a purchase they made. Sometimes I send one to someone who helped me. It’s a fantastic practice.

Two things will happen. First, your customers will NEVER think you don’t appreciate them. And second, you will have a better attitude about life. If you spend every day trying to find something to be thankful for—guess what—you will become more grateful. That’s not a bad side benefit for doing something to help you increase your business!  Now let’s talk about how to create customer retention with promotional products.

Send Quarterly “Thank You” Gifts to your Best Customers

If you are like most businesses, 20% of your customers or clients produce 80% of your sales. It’s not a universal rule, but it is surprising how often it is true.

So those 20% are the clients you REALLY want to show that you care. So, in addition to sending them a birthday card, a Thanksgiving card, and thank you cards, you want to reach out with something extra special at least once a quarter.

Start by establishing a budget.

How much are you willing to spend over the course of a year in order to say “thank you” to these top clients? Remember, these clients are your bread and butter. This is probably not the time to go cheap. How much you can afford to spend retaining your best clients will be different for every business, but, in my experience, you don’t have to break the bank.

Figured out how much you’re able to spend per year, per top client? Now, just for argument’s sake, let’s assume this number is $100 per year. That is, you’ve determined that it’s worth it to your business to spend $100 over the course of a year to say thank you to these top clients. Divide your number by 4. This means you have $25 per quarter to create some sort of gift to give to these clients.

This is more than just a nice gesture. This promotional gift shows your appreciation for them, and it also showcases your logo, reminding them each and every time they use the gift that you are a great company to work with! The trick is to tailor the gifts to your audience.

Start a quarterly thank-you gift program and you’re now “touching” these clients 4 more times a year with a tangible, useful piece of appreciation.

A Plan for Thanking Your Best Customers with Awesome Promotional Products

How does this work? Let’s give you an example. Let’s say you are an insurance agent who has a wide variety of customers. You have business professionals, farmers, families and more.

This diverse group of customers gives you an idea of things you do and don’t want to give. So, your quarterly gifts might look like this:

Quarter 1: Roadside Safety Flashlight. This makes sense because you are not only promoting your brand, but you are showing you care about your client on the road.

Quarter 2High-End Travel Mug and Cooler Bag. This is a cool combo because your clients might be thinking of vacations or road trips for the warmer months. Great way to remind them that you are with them through the miles and smiles!

Quarter 3BBQ Set. At this point they will be in barbecue season with tailgating just around the corner.

Quarter 4Executive Calendar and Tumbler. These two gifts are sure to stand out in the office and the home.

Obviously, these are just a few ideas to get you thinking. There are thousands and thousands of options. But these are some cool things that transcend generations and gender.

Streamlining the Process of Ordering Promotional Products

Also, here’s a quick tip to make this easier for you.

Call your promotional products consultant (that’s us!) and tell them your plans. We’ll help you find the perfect products that fit your budget and will be genuinely appreciated by each of your top customers. To make it even easier, consider ordering all four quarterly products at once. Have them shipped to you about a month before you need them, which allows you to spread out the cost over the year.

Pre-ordering for the whole year, “poof!” creates a reminder system for you, so you remember it’s time to say “thanks” again to your best clients. When the boxes arrive it’s time to start!

There are lots of ways to thank your clients, to kick the problem of perceived indifference to the curb, and to spread marketing joy all year round.

Get creative too and have some fun thanking your customers. You will be glad you did!

This post is an adapted excerpt from my book, Delivering Marketing Joy. 

You can find all of the content we create on our blog page here.  If you want to create a marketing campaign that truly hits the TARGET, check out our FREE TARGET Marketing Playbook here.

Written by: Kirby Hasseman

Kirby Hasseman is the CEO of Hasseman Marketing & Communications. Kirby hosts a weekly Web show called Delivering Marketing Joy where he interviews business leaders from around the country. Kirby has published four books. His most recent is “Fan of Happy.” His book, called "Delivering Marketing Joy" is about doing “promo right” and is perfect for people in the industry and customers. He also wrote “Think Big For Small Business” and “Give Your Way to Success. All are available on Amazon.