The Ultimate Guide To Celebrate Your Customers

Celebrate customers - Reward customersYou don’t need a holiday or special event to celebrate customers.

Find a reason to celebrate and thank your customers as well as your broader audience every day whether or not you have a formal reason or transaction!

In the process, you’ll tap into what Influence’s Robert Caldini defines as the powerful rule of reciprocity. Specifically, when someone gives us something, we feel a sense of obligation to repay this debt at sometime in the future.

More importantly, you don’t need to make a very significant offering to tap into the power of reciprocity as Dr. David B. Strohmetz of Monmouth University proved by using mints to increase wait staff’s tips.

You don’t need to make a very significant offering to tap into the power of reciprocity according to Dr. David B. Strohmetz #influenceClick To Tweet


Look beyond the reciprocity principle to build your business’s community by celebrating your prospects, customers, employees, influencers and social media followers.

As Gary Vaynerchuk stated in The Thank You Economy, one-to-one relationships make life more fun. “When given the choice, people will always spend their time around people they like.”

When given the choice, people will always spend their time around people they like. @GaryVee #marketing #customerserviceClick To Tweet


Not only will thanking your customers make them feel better and brighten their day, but also this small acknowledgement will make you feel happier as well!

To keep the customer love going throughout the year, use these 100+ ways to thank your customers. Show them that you truly appreciate them and their business.

Why Celebrate Customers: 3 Goals Every Marketer Has

celebrate customers

Thank and celebrate your customers and other members of your audience because it’s the right way to do business. Most likely, it’s ingrained in the manners your parents taught you long before you entered the workforce.

But celebrating your customers doesn’t mean renaming your sales and clearances! Your audience is smarter than you think and can spot a promotion a mile away.

Despite companies’s short-sighted tendency to focus on near-term revenues and profits at the expense of long-term value that quality customer relationships yield over time, here’s why you need to celebrate your customers:

1. Build WOM (word-of-mouth)

Like it or not, you need your audience to talk about your company and products because they trust other customers, especially people they know including family, friends and colleagues. It’s interesting to note that customer trust varies by age group.

Global trust in advertising

Fortunately, technical and academic experts have retained their trust with customers according to Edelman’s Trust Barometer (2018).

Customer Trust

Customer Trust – Edelman’s 2018 Trust Barometer – Chart

2. Improve customer retention

Keeping existing customers satisfied, engaged and buying is easier and less expensive than acquiring new prospects because you don’t need media expense to find potential buyers.

Keeping existing customers satisfied, engaged and buying is easier and less expensive than acquiring new prospects. #marketing #retentionmarketingClick To Tweet


It’s 6-7X more expensive to acquire new customers than retain a new one – White House Chart

Instead put yourself in your customers’ shoes to appreciate how they view your efforts. In Hug Your Haters, Jay Baer preaches, “Customer service IS the new marketing. Answer EVERY customer, in EVERY channel, EVERY time.”

Customer service IS the new marketing. Answer EVERY customer, in EVERY channel, EVERY time. @JayBaer #customersClick To Tweet

3. Increase marketing ROI

At a minimum, WOM yields improved ROI based on WOMMA research. Specifically, WOM  increases sales an average of 13%.

Word of Mouth yields positive ROI – WOMMA Research 2015-Chart

With increased pressure to show measurable results, marketers need to be able to track marketing efforts directly to email acquisition, lead qualification and initial purchases.

Despite digital marketing’s promise of measurable results, trackability from first touch through initial purchases remains complex and difficult to achieve since buyers still need 5 to 7 touches that may occur across different devices and contexts.

By contrast, improving customer relationships by celebrating and thanking your customers can be more directly assessed. Even better, you can determine customer lifetime value (LTV).


Celebrate Customers: 100+ Ways To Thank Your Audience

As a marketer, you can celebrate your audience in a variety of ways, both online and offline. To determine what works best for your business and various marketing personas, continually test different methods.

Celebrate customers - Reward customers

1. Thank customers

It’s just old-fashioned good manners.

  1. Send a thank you email. Make it personal not automated!
  2. Mail customers a thank you letter. With the decrease in postal mail, it’ll stand out.
  3. Send a thank you postcard. Even better personalize it with a photo!
  4. Handwrite thank you notes. MarketingProfs’s Ann Handley does this for everyone of their speakers.
  5. Include thank you note in your package. Use this approach for online and catalog purchases.
  6. Share your thanks on social media. You’ll need to know your customer’s ID for Facebook or Twitter.
  7. Recommend clients on LinkedIn where appropriate.
  8. Send customer referrals. This is a creative approach that won’t work for every business.
  9. Give customers the gift of listening. While every business experiences customer problems, the key to winning customers back is listening to them and fixing the problem.
  10. Follow up with customers that have poor experiences. Take the extra step to determine how they’re doing post-purchase.

2. Make customers a special offer

All offers and/or coupons should be time limited and not valid with any other offer. (Here are 25 offer-related questions to ask.)

  1. Offer an in-store discount valid a purchase in the future. Drive  future sales.
  2. Provide a discount an online purchase in the future. Get customers to shop online again.
  3. Give retail, online and/or catalog shoppers a “Buy One, Get One Free” offer. In essence, this is a half price promotion that works better. Limit items to high margin products to protect profits. (Here’s easy-to-understand information to assess your costs.)
  4. Offer shoppers “Buy One, Get One Half Price” promotion.  Use this offer to drive traffic, reward loyalty or reduce inventory.
  5. Send former customers a targeted coupon via email, mobile or postal mail.
  6. Create special offers to entice email subscribers. Tailor the product to your readers.
  7. Make special mobile offers based shopper location. 
  8. Include special mobile app promotions.  Use these offers to encourage mobile app downloads.
  9. Use post-purchase emails to make a special tailored offer based on purchase. This ability often depends your systems.
  10. Provide personal shopping services. While some retailers use these services to increase sales, offer personalized shopping to reward your customers.
  11. Make customers feel special with preferred services. Treat your customers special with extra shopping hours or additional services (free cleaning).
  12. Create Get-A-Friend (GAF) or referral offers. Reward customers who bring in new business. Give it to both customers.

3. Put customers in the spotlight

In Andy Warhol’s words, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”

While research reveals Warhol probably didn’t coin this phrase, you’re in luck. With reduced attention spans, fame has likely diminished to 15 seconds sufficient time to spotlight customers.

With reduced attention spans, fame has likely diminished to 15 seconds sufficient time to spotlight customers. #customersClick To Tweet


  1. Spotlight customers in your store or office. My Chase branch posted customers’ dog photos.

    Chase Bank NYC – Paw of Fame

  2. Highlight customers on your website, blog or social media. New York based Knitty City features customers on its Facebook page.
    P2P content

    Knitty City, a NYC yarn store, features customers on its Facebook page.

  3. Fill your social streams with a “Customer of the Day” feature.
  4. Feature customers in newsletters and communications, online and offline. Create a customer of the week column. Ask readers to submit their photos or projects.
  5. Tap into user generated content for a customer-focused column on a blog, social media or magazine.  
  6. Video your customers. Or encourage them create their own. For the 2018 Olympics, Oreo created a customer video contest.
    Celebrate customers

    Oreo takes featuring customers to a new level with their 2018 Olympics tie-in contest

  7. Include customer input in videos. Create a script to ask customers for their input like LinkedIn’s Sean Callahan did.

  1. Use customer photos in advertising and/or catalogs. MarketingProfs uses professional conference photos of attendees in promotional emailings.
    celebrate customers

    MarketingProfs features customers in their advertising emailings

  2. Showcase customers’ work or projects in sales materials and promotional campaign. Show prospects how other customers use your products.
  3. Interview customers on your website, blog or other content. Spin Suck’s Gini Dietrich consistently tests ways to feature her audience in different columns and regularly changes them. Here are 2 examples of past interview columns.
    Advanced Blogging Tactics

    Spin Sucks Interviews Influencers

    Content Marketing Secrets-Actionable Marketing Guide

    Spin Sucks Interviews Twitter Followers to Celebrate #FollowFriday

4. Thank customers with content marketing

Provide information your audience finds valuable. Even better you’ll build relationships with content marketing customers need.

  1. Reward email registratants for signing up. Use a piece of content they find valuable.
  2. Offer prospects special information for downloading information from your website. This is particularly useful for business-to-business offers.
  3. Provide free whitepapers. This tends to be used for business-to-business sales. While it’s older option, it’s still useful.
  4. Give away free e-books. Create useful information that your audience wants and needs.
  5. Make your audience into stars with badge of honor. Lee Odden is master of this approach with his top lists.
    Celebrate customers and audience

    Top Rank gives audience star treatment

  6. Provide online real-time forums. Think in terms of free training or a talk to reach a wider audience.
  7. Offer online training and how to’s. Help your audience use your products.
  8. Give your audience free patterns and recipes, with or without purchase.

    Kraft’s free recipes made it a Top 5 Nielsen cooking destination (pre-content marketing)

  9. Teach your audience in real life. Offer free classes or presentations at your store or company.
  10. Present a webinar on a topic of interest. Make the recording evergreen content.
  11. Entertain your audience, especially with videos. Tim Washer is the king.

  1. Give away video content. For either training or entertainment.
  2. Snap customer’s photos. Even better make it a fun snapshot and either frame it or make it shareable. This is my favorite give-away! Heidi Cohen at CMWorld 2017
  3. Send customers personalized updates via email. Use this to allow customers to see their children or pets while they’re away.
  4. Involve attendees in conference content. Content Marketing Institute and Social Media Examiner always create a short sizzle reel.
  5. Give customer content a creative twist.  Andy Crestodina’s Content Marketing World Yearbook is a standout example. (Read: Conference User Generated Content)

5. Give customers a gift

Celebrate customers with a gift to tap into the power of reciprocity.

To make this customer loyalty strategy more effective, use it selectively to avoid building customer expectations as well as when other businesses aren’t.

  1. Reward sharing mobile phone information. Give a gift or discount.
  2. Offer shoppers a gift for buying a specific item. Make the item and gift relevant.
  3. Give gift card for future purchase to get customers to come back.
  4. Offer free shipping or delivery.  While often expected online, it still works for local businesses like dry cleaners and pharmacies.
  5. Provide free gift-wrapping. Help buyers save time.
  6. Create want-to-keep-and-reuse branded shopping bags. Give customers a way to be green for free.
  7. Surprise customers with an unexpected treat in their package.
  8. Offer samples since customers love free stuff. Get customers to try new or related products. Cosmetic companies have done this for years.
  9. Have a raffle. Use this tactic to build your email list. Pat Flynn gave away his favorite 5 business books.
  10. Team up with another business to create reciprocal offers. Use the power of reciprocity with another firm with a connection to your audience understands.
  11. Surprise customers with a celebration. Create a special event for customers to drive traffic during slow periods.
  12. Invite customers to join an advisory group. People love to be asked for their opinions. Reward them for their input.

6. Give shoppers special services

Pamper customers to make them feel special.

Key actionable success requirement: Empower your frontline employees to use their discretion to respond.

  1. Offer special services for targeted audiences. Use slow times to target select groups of customers.
  2. Make customers feel special. Offer velvet rope selectivity to a segment of customers.
  3. Create a special community of owners. Harley Davidson is known for the HOGS.
    Celebrate customers

    Harley Davidson’s H.O.G. community site

  4. Help non-drivers or older patrons to your business. For example, Flying Fingers’ yarnmobile drives customers from Manhattan to their suburban location.
    Celebrate Customers

    Flying Fingers uses its Yarn Mobile to pick up customers in NYC and drive them to Tarrytown

  5. Join us for breakfast. Open early with coffee and breakfast treats for shoppers who can’t shop other times.
  6. Put out coffee and cookies to lure customers in. Banks do this to make banking a social event.
  7. Offer them a drink. Get customers in to relax after work. Wine shops use tastings to attract customers.
  8. Let them test your wares. For example, Trader Joe’s has dedicated cooks prepare treats for shoppers.
  9. Bring the kids. Offer special activities for children, such as a book reading or games.
  10. Deliver local orders without charge. Expand your reach and delight customers and gift givers.
  11. Provide related service for free. For example, dermatologists often give free cancer screenings to new patients.
  12. Offer a related service for free. Entice customers during slow periods without hurting primetime sales like a special polish at the car wash.
  13. Treat them like royalty. Reward customers with a special level of service such as a better room. To succeed empower frontline employees.
  14. Make customer experiences memorable. Monitor what your audience says on social media to deliver wow experiences like Ron Tite’s stay at the Westin.

7. Create celebrations to get customers out of the house

Literally celebrate customers with special events and parties. Give your audience a reason to build real life relationships with you and each other. Think customer loyalty, community and retention. [CLICk-to-tweet : Give your audience a reason to build real life relationships with you and each other to improve customer loyalty, community and retention. @HeidiCohen #retentionmarketing]

  1. Throw a party for your customers. Knitty City celebrates its birthday with cake and discounts for visitors.
    Celebrate customers

    New York City yarn store, Knitty City celebrates its birthday every year

  2. Take the party to your customers. Think old-fashioned Tupperware party.
  3. Offer free mini-classes. Expand you audience’s knowledge while attracting new users. Video them to create content marketing.
  4. Host a live clinic for product-related help. Be a resource for customers. Lions Brand Studio has weekly knit and crochet doctor hours.
  5. Offer a special season preview. Give your best customers a jump on the coming season.
  6. Host book readings. Support authors and your community.
  7. Create a monthly book club. Encourage your audience to become a community.
  8. Invite special experts your customers want to meet. Offer trunk shows and gallery events. Yarn store Annie and Co hosted a traveling Latvian mitten exhibit.
    Celebrate customers

    Use your store to spotlight a traveling exhibit like Annie & Co in NYC

  9. Host movie night. Lion’s Brand Studio yarn store showed movies with a knitting scene once a month.
  10. Create a special event for your best customers. This works well for business and high net worth customers who benefit from meeting each other. Include out-of-the office options like spas or golfing.
  11. Honor your BFFs. Get customers to bring their friends in with a special offer or event.
  12. Throw a pajamas party for kids. Invite kids to your store for an evening party.

8. Celebrate customer’s important personal occasions

Include your audience’s birthday, anniversary or other important milestone.

Celebrate customers

Celebrate your customers’ birthdays & other milestones

  1. Send birthday email.Be sensitive that some customers don’t want to reveal their age. Only collect the month or month and day.
  2. Use the post office to deliver a birthday card. Go a step further and handwrite the note.
  3. Offer birthday wishes for customers who make the date public on Facebook. Don’t disclose information they may want kept private!
  4. Create a birthday recognition board in your store or office. It’s a great reason to gather additional information about your audience.
  5. Give customers a birthday shout out on your website or newsletter. Make customers feel special by mentioning them. (Need help, here are 50 birthday tactics!)
  6. Send customers a special birthday promotion. Create a special offer for customers’ birthdays.
  7. Send customers thank you cards via the Post Office on their anniversary of shopping with you.
  8. Call to remind family and friends of loved ones’ important occasions. Use this for forgetful husbands and grandparents.
  9. Text family and friends customers to help them remember birthdays and anniversaries. Position this messaging as a service.
  10. Acknowledge graduates with a special discount. Go beyond emailings and give them a reason to do business with your firm. Build loyalty early!
  11. Salute the military. Show your gratitude for their service to our country with special treatment or discounts.
  12. Celebrate major milestones that relate to your business. For example, retirement.

9. Support customers’ favorite not-for-profits (aka: social causes)

Customers prefer to purchase from socially conscious businesses. For millennials, your company’s concern for social causes can be a determining purchase factor. [CLICK-TO-TWEET: Millennials prefer to support businesses that are concerned about social causes. @HeidiCohen #millennials #marketing ]

Millennials support socially responsible companies compared to other demographics – Nielsen Chart

  1. Donate a portion of sales to charity. Encourage increased purchases by donating a portion of your sales. Subaru advertises the NFPs it supports.  (BTW–Don’t forget to set a limit.)
  2. Give a discount to customers who make a NFP donate. Show your support.
  3. Get involved in a social or charity cause. In addition to pussy hats, scarves, chemo caps and afghans, knitters make knitted knockers.

  1. Allow meeting space for a NFP group. Before you do, check your insurance policy for potential issues.
  2. Supply a location to collect donated items. Help not-for-profit groups with limited physical presence.
  3. Give leftovers to charity. This works for food-related and other expiration limited goods.
  4. Include not-for-profit flyers in shopping bags. Reduce the NFP’s media distribution costs.
  5. Add inserts for a not-for-profit in your packages. Use your product delivery for distribution.
  6. Offer not-for-profit “Take Ones” near the checkout or entryway. Get customers’ attention for a worthy NFP.
  7. Allocate part of your retail window for not-for-profit promotion. For example, Zabars supports the local JCC. Here are other older examples of shop windows.
  8. Promote a not-for-profit on your shopping bag. Another example of co-promotion using shopping bags.
  9. Donate product or service to a notfor-profit raffle. Show your support while getting some brand awareness.

10. Celebrate customers by going green

Contribute to a better future and your customers not the cost implications of being green.

  1. Be green! Consciously use products that contain recycled or recyclable ingredients. For example, in Belize, some merchants chose to use bags made from corn not plastic.
  2. Offer a discount for bringing your own bag. Since charging for disposable shopping bags isn’t universal.
  3. Provide a location for difficult-to-recycle products. Such as medications and used electronics.
  4. Offer a discount for recycling used products. Staples does this for printer ink cartridges and H&M does this for clothes.

The Ultimate Guide To Celebrate Your Customers Conclusion

When you celebrate customers, your goal is to delight your delight your audience by showing that you care.

Thanking customers isn’t a promotion parading in a “I Care About You” costume.

Thanking customers isn’t a promotion parading in a “I Care About You” costume. #customers #marketingClick To Tweet


Rather show your audience that you truly appreciate their time, consideration and business. To work best, really caring about your customers must be ingrained in your company, brand and employees.

Your objective is to continue to build and deepen your relationship with each customer so that she feels special and positively disposed to your firm.

Bear in mind that one bad experience can not only hurt your relationship with a specific customer but also can have an impact on other potential buyers.

Chances are you’ll never know about this multiplier effect because most word-of-mouth occurs face-to-face.

To maximize the results when you thank and celebrate customers, test a variety of options and test different presentations. Integrate the means to track results in terms of improved customer relations, incremental sales and profits, and increased marketing ROI.

Go on show your audience that you care.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

PS: Check out Dan Gingiss’s Winning At Social Media Customer Care.

  Women in white: cc zero
  Love hands: cc zero
  Traveling Latvian Mitten At Annie & Co  photo:
  Birthday cake: cc zero

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on February 14th, 2011. It has been updated and expanded.


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