The week is ticking down to the holiday fever pitch that will be Black Friday and Cyber Monday this weekend. Retailers and brands alike should have much to be thankful for on these huge shopping days, not the least of which will be their most loyal customers. Making those consumers feel appreciated all year can strengthen that relationship further to foster loyalty.
In honor of Thanksgiving, here are a few ways to give thanks to your customers.
1. Feature them, their content, and their opinions in your advertising.
Give your best customers their five minutes. French hotel brand Sofitel has created a series of print ads featuring photos of hand-written “travel diary” pages, with text from real travelers. USAA reads real consumer feedback in their radio spots. And Taco Bell created a TV ad featuring dozens of photos of their Doritos Locos Taco shared by diners on Instagram.
Getting featured in an ad for a favorite brand creates a talkable moment they’ll be excited to share with friends, and one they’ll associate with your brand moving forward. And seeing consumers’ opinions and photos in advertising will also make other consumers more likely to share with you for their chance to be featured.
2. Give them priority access and VIP experiences.
Make your best consumers feel like the best. Tell them about your new products before they’re made public. Feed their ego by letting them become your insider, sharing info they can be the first to share with friends. Let them in on secret online pre-sales. This doesn’t have to mean discounts; it may just be that they get to shop your new products before anyone else. Around 30% of Twitter users follow brands for “insider info.”
You can also create these experiences offline. Louis Vuitton created an invite-only “salon” in an apartment above a London store. Only the best customers are invited to the salon, where a butler serves drinks while personal shoppers showcase select items. Invite your best customers them to invite-only shopping days, store openings, pop-up stores, etc. Send them samples they can try before anyone else and share with their friends.
3. “Randomly” reward them.
Spontaneous rewards that surprise consumers are proven to be more delightful and shareworthy than rewards consumers feel they’ve earned. Zappos famously rewards customers with two-day shipping upgrades. “Randomly” is in quotes because, while you could randomly reward any old customer, it may make sense to target instead your biggest advocates and influencers. Surprise them with rewards they weren’t expecting and create a talkable moment. These rewards needed be big discounts – they could instead be small thank yous like shipping upgrades or samples.
4. Ask for their feedback, and use it to create better experiences.
Nothing says “We value you” like listening and acting to make every experience better than the last. Show your customers that you care about their experience with your brand. Ask them to share what they think of you – both what they like and what they don’t. Were they happy with their interaction with you? And if not, why? What could you do to make that experience better next time?
Letting consumers know when you’ve followed their advice deepens the brand connection. When Rubbermaid changed a sink matt based on negative reviews, they sent every negative reviewer a new matt and a note thanking them for the feedback that helped improve the product. The delighted consumers went back to the site to leave glowing reviews and express their surprise at how much Rubbermaid truly cared.
This doesn’t just mean product feedback. Best Buy, for example, is experimenting with gathering feedback on specific stores, to make sure the shopping experience leaves a great impression.
5. Ask for their ideas.
This is different than asking for their feedback. Instead of asking about something you already make or the services you already deliver, you can ask them what they would make and deliver. It says you think they’re smart and capable – that their ideas are as important as your own product developers’.
Dell is the classic example – their online “Idea Storm” asked consumers to talk about new features or products they’d like to see from the manufacturer. Other consumers could vote for their favorites, or comment to expound on others’ ideas with their own point of view.
Recognize that there are many more ways to thank customers than simple discounts. Show them how much you really care with deeper interactions and you’ll create emotional bonds that last longer than a coupon.