What does it mean to take care of your customers? Just about every business on Earth claims to “take care” of their customers in some way, shape, or form; but what do they mean when they make that claim? There are also plenty of cases wherein businesses say it but don’t really do anything to take care of their customers beyond charging their credit cards.
The point is that you couldn’t exist without customers, so treating them in the best possible way that you can should constantly be a top priority. You might have great support and service for those who choose to give you their hard-earned cash in exchange for whatever you’re selling, which goes a really long way, but you can do even more than that to secure their undying patronage.
One of the ways you can do that is to give them things for free. That can come in a lot of different forms, so we’ve put together a short list in this post, of things you can give away for free to provide proof to your customers of how much you appreciate their business.
It’s up to you if you want to take on the cost for producing some company T-shirts, as the cost can add up. It’s not too high of a cost, though, and it can be a fantastic promotional tool for your business because it’s a great gift to give your customers, while putting some extra advertising out there at the same time. Everybody loves T-shirts, especially if they’re free, and it doesn’t really even matter what the shirt says.
You certainly don’t have to produce a massive run of shirts that you give away for every single purchase, or anything like that. Give out a T-shirt for every purchase above a certain dollar amount, or you can only do the giveaway at certain times during the year. As you most likely will want to keep your cost down for this, you can simply decide how much you want to spend on them and not exceed that amount; it’s totally up to you.
Your cost is going to run between $5-7, varying slightly if you buy a larger number of them or decide to go with higher quality shirts, so even buying 200 shirts to give away, for starters, will probably be an acceptable cost for your budget. When you think about the return you might see for helping to retain existing customers, while possibly bringing in new customers through the advertising from people wearing them, that can also offset the cost you put in for the shirts.
The point, anyway, is really just to delight your current customers by giving something cool to them for free, which is just good policy and can inspire positive word-of-mouth from those people, as well.
2. Swag Bags
By the way, this doesn’t have to be an actual bag. It can be a box of swag that you send to new customers during promotional periods, or for special random giveaways, as an example. It really doesn’t matter; think of “swag” as a generic term for any stuff you want to give away to customers that has your company logo or name on it.
It honestly doesn’t even need to bear your company logo, but if it doesn’t, you’re passing up an easy opportunity to put a little advertising out there. If your customer hands a friend one of your pens with the name of your business on it, that person isn’t going to run out and sign up with you, but they might recall it at some point in the future when they need what you sell. It never hurts to put your name out in the air whenever you can.
The items that you put into your swag bag for customers can be anything you think of, either standard items like coffee mugs, pens, or stationery, or things that are a little more unique, like matchbooks, flash drives, and the like. We like free stuff.
It’s not like they’re going to be over the moon about the swag you send them, but it’s just cool to know that a business thought to give you something free, just because. It doesn’t need to be anything expensive or really special; people usually think it’s nice to get anything, especially stuff that they wouldn’t otherwise buy but that they can use in their everyday life. Swag can be more effective than you think.
3. Referral Credit
Referrals are an awesome tool to promote your business and make your existing customers happy, all at the same time. It’s a great way to incentivize current customers to do the work of bringing in new customers for you, without barely lifting a finger on your end.
All you need to do is offer a monetary credit if someone recommends your business to someone they know (as you’ve no doubt seen yourself as a patron of other businesses), which, in turn, encourages your customers to promote your business for you.
As promotion can take an immense amount of time and effort to deploy effectively, it’s nice to get a bit of help. You might even decide to have a full referral program for your business that runs all the time, which you can put in place by having a standing offer for existing customers that gives them a credit every time someone they referred becomes a paying customer. The credit you offer doesn’t have to be that big, either.
It might be $20 or thereabouts, one free month of service for subscription businesses, or you can even run pilot programs with lower or higher credit amounts to see what works best for you.
4. Gift Cards
While a gift card might not be the best gift to give a family member, it’s perfect for your customers. Even a small gift card for $10 (or whatever you decide is appropriate) can be a really nice thing for your customers to receive from you for certain occasions or even randomly, to show your appreciation at any time.
You can always go with a universal one, like a Vanilla or other standard gift card, but to mix it up a little bit, you can also give them a few options to choose from, for a variety of different things.
Gift cards for places that the majority of your customers probably use, such as Starbucks, Amazon, restaurants, grocery stores, or virtually any of the major chains can be a big hit with your customers, and the fact that they can choose whichever one they want is usually favorable. That, of course, reinforces the possibly more logical option of giving out universal cards, instead.
5. Free Month of Service
We’ve already hit on this option for its use as a referral credit, but even by itself as a stand-alone free gift, a month of free service is great to give away, too. If you happen to be a subscription-based service, then this is something that your customers are always going to appreciate.
Having an OSP that is subscription-based has a peculiar benefit these days because, like a Netflix subscription or a phone bill, most of us barely notice, if at all, when the monthly payment clears our bank account for various services that we’re using.
At the same time though, if you explicitly tell your customers that you’re going to give one of those monthly payments to them for free, it still has the same effect as free stuff always has—the customer is still going to be appreciative of it when you remind them that, though they pay you a certain amount every month, this one is going to be free.
As with the other gifts that we’ve mentioned here, you can give this out for special reasons or however you see fit. It might be something you give customers as a loyalty program, either once per year, every 6 months, or at whatever frequency seems right for your particular business.
6. Movie Tickets
An admittedly unconventional choice for a giveaway item from a business, movie tickets can actually be something that pretty much everybody will be happy to get from you. To get an idea of how this can work, imagine the scenario where you bought a product from a business and that business then sent to you a note thanking you for your business and a pair of tickets to a movie of your choice.
It would be a pretty cool gift to receive from a new business that you found, right? Sometimes, the uncommon gifts are the best ones, and you can be that business who gives out the coolest gift to new customers, welcoming them into your community. You don’t have to send physical tickets to people, either, as they can be sent to the customer online, most likely in an email.
It’s a unique giveaway that will make you stand out to your customers, something that they might also be prompted to tell their friends because it’s more remarkable than other business gifts which they may receive.
7. Planned Discounts
Discounts are a great tool because you can offer them in any amount that is reasonable for your business, at any time that works for you, and for any reason that you like. You can even organize promotional materials around discounts to, first of all, make sure your customers know they’re getting them, and also to illustrate the fact that you’re doing it because you care about them.
A perfect way to offer a discount giveaway is to set levels of purchases that automatically earn discounts. For example, you can offer something like free shipping for anything over $40, a 10% discount for purchases over $100, 20% off purchases over $150, or whatever works.
You could also offer a discount if people buy certain items that you’re heavily promoting, possibly overstocked items, to push out more units. It just depends on what it will be worth to you to offer the discount.
8. Discounts for Partner Companies
Do you have relationships with other businesses that you use yourself or support for any reason? Those can be very valuable and profitable relationships to have, so, anytime you get an opportunity to help those partners out by bringing them new business, you should take it.
Obviously, the goal is to encourage those businesses to return the favor and recommend yours to their own customers if possible. One of the ways you can fertilize those partnerships is to let your customers know that you’ll give them a discount if they buy from your partners.
Chances are, if you’re partnered with a business, it’s most likely a product that your customers will also be interested in. Let them know what companies are your partners, for which you’re offering credits or discounts, and they can choose whichever ones they need.
9. Anything with Your Company Name on It
While giving out free stuff that bears your company name is additional advertising for you, it also reminds the customer who gave it to them, which is always good, too. Stickers, mouse pads, post-it notes, or anything of the like are a perfect delivery system for your logo and a small show of goodwill towards your existing customers.
As long as you put your logo or name on it, that works because it’s just swag that’s advertising your business at the same time. The kinds of things such as the suggestions above are the best because they’re things that people actually use and can get your name out there a little more.
10. Phone Cases
This is another slightly unusual one that can potentially delight your customers because they won’t expect it but most likely appreciate it. Everybody needs a phone case, skin or protector of some kind, and we change them out pretty frequently because there are so many different designs to choose from.
It probably isn’t one of those things you want to put your business name on, though, as it’s something we like to customize and not to advertise some company. You can offer a variety of styles for any phone, with all kinds of different designs. This might be another opportunity, in fact, for you to promote one of your partners, if they happen to be a vendor of this product.
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.