Celebrate the Holidays by Celebrating Your Customers
’Tis the Season
By DAVE RATNERThe holidays are, as if we need reminding, a shopping extravaganza.
Between now and the beginning of the New Year, we will experience sensory overload. From repetitious TV commercials encouraging us to buy or lease a luxury sedan or SUV to the windows of local storefronts, with oversized letters (in red and green) spelling the words ‘XMAS SALE’ and ‘HUGE DISCOUNTS,’ these promotions — including the billboards, flyers, mailers, radio spots, and newspaper and magazine inserts — are everywhere we go.
As a retailer with long-standing roots in our community, and as someone who believes the holidays are not just another reason to buy stuff, allow me to offer the following advice to all business owners: give thanks to your respective customers. Take a moment to express your gratitude to them, so they know you appreciate their support and value their patronage.
Court your consumers, which is another way of saying, romance your customers by personalizing your service and making yourself more attentive to the needs and expectations of these men and women.
I write these words from experience — indeed, I am the author of a book about this very subject — because, by making these individuals the focus of what you do, there will be no confusion about why you do what you do. That is, without customers, a business cannot survive; it has no buyers for its merchandise, no audience for its marketing and communications, and, thus, no reason for being.
What, then, should businesses do this holiday season?
To start, they can use social media — Facebook and Twitter, with the latter linking to a specific post from the former — to publish a note of genuine appreciation.
Forget the customary posting of sentence fragments and links, the so-called clickbait responsible for attracting ‘likes’ and ‘followers,’ and choose, instead, to hand-write (and then transcribe for the web) a letter detailing why you cherish your customers. Tell them — tell us — why they inspire you, how they motivate you, and what they do for you.
In other words, choose quality and quantity over the glib and ordinary, which is to say, make it clear to the reader, and make it absolutely unambiguous to your customers, that their interests are your priority, that you welcome their e-mails and look forward to receiving their feedback and responding to their concerns.
If this advice seems obvious, and if these examples sound like basic common sense, they are. That does not mean businesses are aware of this fact, or that they uphold this rule, because they too often do not.
The holidays are, therefore, an opportunity to make amends, so to speak, and strengthen ties with consumers. They are a chance for customers to enjoy savings and discounts, but they are also a time for businesses to rejoice over what they have — and to whom they owe so much.
Remember, too, the people who are your greatest sources of word-of-mouth marketing and your most credible agents of action. Reward your customers with your thanks, and whatever else you can afford to give them. Your gratitude will not go unnoticed, and your deeds will not go unrecognized.
Do well by doing something good, so you may sell your goods to the customers who are your most passionate friends and your most vociferous allies.
Now, pass the eggnog and make a list, and check it twice, to find out who has been (and still is) nice.
Love your customers.
Dave Ratner is founder of Dave’s Soda and Pet City and a business author and speaker; daveratner.com