I just spent a dreamy week in the Dominican Republic, and one of the first things I did when I came home was write an online review for our snorkeling expedition. The tour group did a really amazing job and politely asked us to write a TripAdvisor review if we enjoyed our experience, so I of course wanted to thank them with a glowing testimonial. A few days later I received a follow-up email from Trip Advisor thanking me for writing a review, and included a free “gift”…which was anything but!
Okay #realtalk: I love TripAdvisor. (And if it isn’t obvious, that is not the email they sent me.) They provide an incredible service and I have used them dozens or hundreds of times to find hotels, restaurants, and activities on my travels. But this free “gift” irked me and I wanted to share my thoughts on how we as business owners can do a way better job of properly thanking our customers, while getting a little somethin-somethin back in return.
Below is the actual graphic from the email I received from TripAdvisor. To thank me for writing my first review, they were offering me a fabulous (drumroll please)…
…car magnet. Cue: crickets.
TripAdvisor’s way of thanking me for writing a review was to give me a car magnet with their business name and logo on it? So that I can make a statement to the world that I…use their website?
Don’t get me wrong, I am all about thanking your customers so I genuinely appreciate them sending the email in the first place.
And I don’t think it’s wrong to ask your customers to spread the word about your business either.
But I do think it’s a little weird to suggest that me promoting their business is somehow a gift for me. Right?!
Showing your customers you care and appreciate them is of the utmost importance for a small business. And if we were gazillionaires, we’d be showering our wonderful customers with rubies and Lamborghinis and baby white tigers to show them how awesome they are.
But if you’re like me and your budget is just a smidge tighter than that, here are 6 smart thank you gifts for customers that benefit your business too:
1. Taste test. This is a chance to give your customer a taste of a product or service that will make their life better, risk-free. So use it to your advantage! A salon could give away a miracle hair mask that they know will make their client’s wiry hair soft and supple. And when that mask delivers on its promise, the client is going to place another order. People love to try before they buy, so use your gift as an opportunity to share the perfect product or service for them that they might not try otherwise.
2. Chance to win big. Instead of giving out lots of little not-so-awesome gifts for customers, why not set a budget for one larger, extra-awesome gift instead? I’d be much more inclined to like my favorite health food store on Facebook for a chance to win a $100 gift certificate than be guaranteed one sample size bag of seaweed snacks. If you’re going this route, just make sure to promote the heck out of the prize to encourage your customers to act.
3. Donation to charity. I recently saw SurveyMonkey use this as an incentive to get me to take one of their surveys and you know what? I did it. People love to help out and giving a small donation to a charity pays the kindness forward (and makes you and your customer feel really good at the same time!) Note: This one works well for something like writing online reviews, but could be tacky if it’s for a big gesture. “I donated $3 to the Red Cross!” might not be the best thank you gift for a customer who referred her entire zumba class to your accounting firm. #justsayin
4. Discount on future services. This is one of my favorites as a customer! It makes me feel like I’m getting a deal (is there any better feeling?) and it works for the company because they make money on my future purchase. Classic win-win.
5. Handwritten thank you note. Call me sentimental, but this one never goes out of style for me. A little heart goes a long way these days (as I learned on Mother’s Day) so take the time to write to your customer to thank them for what they did. And while you’re at it, let them know how much you value them as a person. You never know what people are going through, it might just mean more to them than you expect.
6. Stuff people actually want. This one is pretty common sense, but it needs to be reiterated. If I were named as part of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 (…or People’s Sexiest Women Alive…) list, then I’d consider putting a magnet on my car to let everyone know. But short of that? Yeah, no. If you’re going to give a gift with your logo on it, make it something that your customer will actually use. Go green and dole out some reusable grocery bags or water bottles with your branding on them. Awesome for the environment, useful for your customer, and great for your business. Good karma FTW.
Showing your customers you care is a topic I’m really, really ridiculously passionate about, so please let me know your ideas! Do you have any great gifts for customers that you use in your business? Or have you received an awesome gift as a customer? (Also, am I being too harsh on TripAdvisor? And does anyone want this free magnet I’m about to receive?) Let me know in the comments!