Written by: Heidi Capodanno, Director of Customer Experience, Union Savings Bank
Your customers are the key to your small business success. Each interaction with your customers gives you and your employees the chance to show them how much you appreciate their business. To make a special demonstration of your gratitude, consider holding a Customer Appreciation Week for your small business customers.
In the very first stages of planning a Customer Appreciation Week, it’s a good idea to start with these six basic questions: who, what, where, when, why and how. By diving into each of these questions, you will decide which elements are helpful in communicating appreciation to your customers to keep them coming back.
Who is your Customer Appreciation Week for?
This might sound like an obvious question, but asking yourself who will benefit from a customer appreciation week is an important place to start. If you plan to celebrate all of your customers throughout the week, your planning will likely be a bit simpler. However, if you plan to recognize some of your top customers or those who have worked with your business for five years, ten years or more, you may be talking about several different events or promotions, each with its own unique content.
Holding a customer appreciation week also gives you the chance to highlight your own employees and their roles in collaborating with customers. Invite your employees who have the most facetime with customers to craft thoughtful messages of appreciation and share them in personalized notes, emails or on social media. These personal touches will remind customers why they have chosen to work with your business.
What will your Customer Appreciation Week look like?
Now that you know who you will be recognizing during your Customer Appreciation Week, it’s time to begin crafting a vision of what your week will look like. Do you plan to offer promotions, discounts or tutorials? Will you be updating your website or social media channels to reflect the week’s events? Be sure to prepare these materials ahead of time.
Whether you hold events in person or conduct everything online, you’ll want to make sure people know instantly what you are trying to accomplish. In addition to written content explaining your Customer Appreciation Week, you may want to consider designing some custom materials to help pull it all together.
One of these designs could include a unique logo specifically for your Customer Appreciation Week. This special logo can pull in elements from your business’ core branding such as color scheme and fonts yet be distinctive enough to stand out. This logo will carry through on all materials, from emails and a stamp on social media images to signage and mailers.
You can extend these style elements into every facet of your Customer Appreciation Week. Selecting photos that incorporate your chosen colors, using consistent fonts and using keywords and specific language can all help to tie your efforts together seamlessly. The time of year when you hold your customer appreciation week may also influence your visual style.
Where will your Customer Appreciation Week take place?
If you are planning to throw one or more events within the span of your Customer Appreciation Week, you will want to decide where these activities will take place. If your small business operates primarily online, this event could, too. Video tutorials, emails or live videos on social media are just a few of the ways you could celebrate your customers entirely online.
You may want to hold an event at your brick and mortar location but find yourself short on space. Consider partnering with a nearby business in your industry to provide a well-rounded event that benefits both of your businesses. You can even leverage a partnership to create great online content if you still prefer digital over in-person events.
When will you hold your Customer Appreciation Week?
In addition to influencing messaging and design, the time of year has big implications for what you can accomplish. If you run a seasonal business, a Customer Appreciation Week can help you stay top of mind with customers in the off-season or it can make your busy season even busier (and more profitable).
To select when you want to hold this event, consider your business capacity, your employees’ schedules and your customers’ availability. Seasonality does not just affect your business, it can reflect your customers’ buying patterns, too.
If you plan to hold an event during the holiday season, keep in mind that it can be an especially busy time of year for everyone. Consider sharing content online that expresses your gratitude for your customers. If you do plan to hold an event, keeping it on theme can help generate interest. Whether you plan to host a holiday party or an online webinar, work the holidays into the messaging and visuals.
Why are you holding a Customer Appreciation Week?
Your Customer Appreciation Week will serve many purposes, the most important of which will be recognizing and celebrating your customers. Another good reason to throw an appreciation week is to help draw in new customers and remind ones you haven’t seen in a while about what your business can do for them. This week can also be an opportunity to recognize your own employees and everything they do for your customers.
If you have recently launched a new product or service, your appreciation week can be the perfect time to share it with your customers. Or if your business has undergone a significant change such as new management, a rebranding or a small business relocation, this week can be your chance to thank your customers for their patience and to show off what’s new.
A Customer Appreciation Week may also offer customers a more relaxed platform for sharing what they love about working with your business and what they’d like to change. Including a survey in your Customer Appreciation Week celebrations, whether in your emails or as a wrap-up to the week, can tell you a lot about how your customers think.
How will you spread the news?
Getting the word out about your Customer Appreciation Week is the most important step of all. If you are planning any events, whether in person or online, you’ll need people to know about them. Consider how your customers prefer to be contacted and apply that to your outreach strategy.
You may also want to consider a variation on traditional outreach to draw attention to your appreciation week. Special invitations, live videos on social media and a twist on your usual emails can help catch your customers’ attention.
Depending on where any planned events are taking place, your customers may need more or less notice. If they’ll be expected to travel, be sure to give customers a sufficient heads up so they can clear their schedules. If you are providing educational materials online, let your customers know roughly how much time they’ll need to set aside in order to get the most out of what you’re offering.
Lastly, remember that people forget! Telling your customers once about an event that’s weeks away will likely reach the bottom of their inboxes when the time rolls around. Remind your customers frequently and keep the notice pinned to your social media accounts and website. This will help ensure a strong attendance or simply more viewers for your event or content.
Holding a Customer Appreciation Week is a special chance to show and tell your customers what they mean to you. As a small business owner, you understand that these meaningful connections are the heart of your business. By planning who your appreciation week is for, what it will look like, where and when you plan to hold it, why you want to do it and how to get the word out will put you closer to holding an event your customers will remember, and will look forward to next year.
Stay tuned for even more Small Business Tips from our Business Blog in 2019. Happy Holidays, and may you have a healthy and prosperous New Year!