Last year, when the world shut down, trade shows & conferences were, among many other things, canceled. During this time, companies lost a lot more than revenue–they lost the connections that in-person events provide.
According to research done before the pandemic, the top three reasons companies set up brand experiences at trade shows are to raise awareness of the company and its brand, get leads from new buyers and prospects, and touch base and stay connected with current clients. Keeping in touch with existing customers in the good old times was challenging, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made it more difficult.
That pandemic is the very reason that you should reach out to your current clients. The ones who stuck with you through the trying times are likely your most loyal customers. However, that does not mean their allegiance is guaranteed. A Rockefeller Group study found that the number one reason that customers abandon a brand is they are “turned away by an attitude of indifference on (the) part of (the) service provider.” That was the reason for the vast majority (68%) of consumer losses. The second most likely reason is that the customer was “dissatisfied with (the) product,” which only happened 14% of the time. (The least likely – yet most morbid – reason is that the customer dies, which only happens in 1% of the cases.)
Since your next trade show is likely months away, now is an excellent time to reach out to those customers who stayed by your side and let them know that you notice and appreciate their loyalty. Here are a few simple ways to tell your best clients, “Thank you.”
Send a personalized note.
This might be the most straightforward idea, but it also might be the most effective. Depending on your customers’ preferences, you can send this via email or snail mail. However, if you choose the email route, you are taking a risk that your carefully crafted message could wind up in a junk mail folder, sit unopened and ignored, or be misinterpreted as a sales pitch.
Sending a message through the U.S. postal service is slower and a little more expensive, but it dramatically increases the odds that your message will be opened, read, and appreciated.
Personalize this note as much as you can. If you can send a handwritten message to every customer, that’s great. However, most of us do not have that much time (or legible handwriting), and that’s ok. Simply adding a name or personal detail will resonate with the recipient. You may be able to fake some personalization on a large scale but be careful. Customers are pretty good at sniffing out inauthentic messages, and you could have your efforts backfire on you.
Another risk for coming across as disingenuous is to transition from a “thank you” into a sales pitch. Remember, this isn’t about selling your services or products; they’re already buying those. This letter intends to showcase the attentiveness of your company.
Give them some swag.
People love swag. That’s a hard and fast rule of any trade show booth. And, due to all those canceled events, you may have plenty of branded items gathering dust at your offices (if you still have offices). Even if you don’t, there are plenty of affordable options where you can create quality, branded items.
Several fun mailers include the message as part of the box. Imagine a box where the lid folds open with a message printed on each panel or a package the size of a checkbook that slides open to reveal a little gift. These are all inventive ways for you to send “thank you” surprises to your clients.
Offer discounts or gift cards.
People like a bargain almost as much free stuff. Just because you don’t want your message to become a sales pitch doesn’t mean you can’t provide a discount as part of your messaging.
Consider offering a set percentage off a purchase, a buy-one-get-one-free offer, or a complimentary gift with purchase. Also, if your business has tiered offerings, you could provide a free upgrade for a limited time. Fair warning, though; you need to be extremely cautious with how you present these offers. If you are too blunt with your phrasing, these could come off as sales-y and ruin your efforts.
Another idea is to provide a gift card to a business other than your own. This would have to be something of interest to your customers and (obviously) not in direct competition with you.
Create a customer loyalty program.
This is what it’s all about, right? If your business does not already have a customer loyalty program, it may be time to develop one – and this “thank you” message is an ideal way to promote it. You could even tie an exclusive discount into the loyalty program for only these customers. For example, offer a free item with every tenth purchase, but only customers who received the “thank you” message also get 15% off every other purchase.
Another aspect to consider is providing these members early access to sales or limited-time items. This way, the customers who are most loyal to you have the best shot at the items and services they desire.
Make a donation in their name.
If you know which causes are most important to your consumers, let them know in the “thank you” letter that you’ve made a donation in their name. Otherwise, include a card they can fill out and send back telling you their charity of choice. You could also have recipients select from a handful of charities you choose. You will generate a significant amount of goodwill, and you can keep communication alive with a series of “thank you for your donation” emails. From having our graphics department create a personalized mailer to helping you discover the best-branded swag (that’s in addition to our awesome trade show displays), The Trade Group is here to help. To learn more, give us a call at 800-343-2005 or contact us here.