Q: Earlier this week I received a thank you card in the mail from a vendor I partner with at my MSP business. I really liked the fact that they took the time to think of me and my employees. It was a nice personal touch and made me feel appreciated. With Thanksgiving coming up, I want to do something similar for my small business customers to show them I’m thankful for their business. The only problem is that I don’t have much of a budget to buy them gifts. How can I say thank you to my customers without breaking the bank?
Thankfully (no pun intended), there are a number of creative ways to show your appreciation for your customers, and you don’t need an elaborate or expensive gift to express your gratitude. During the holiday season, even a simple “thank you” or “Happy Holidays” greeting can make people smile and feel appreciated. Keep it simple, and remember to just say “thanks.”
To help you choose the best method, we solicited the advice of your MSP peers. With their insight, we put together a list of six options for saying “thank you” this holiday season:
1. Send a small gift
Depending on how many customers you have, you can send a small gift in the mail as a surprise “thank you.” If you don’t have the budget to send all of your customers a gift, choose a group of your top customers or those who you’d like to grow your business with (a free gift can go a long way!).
We suggest sending something simple that all types of people would enjoy. A perfect example is gift cards. Starbucks cards are a good option because most people like coffee, and if they don’t, they can use the card to buy a delicious bakery treat. A few other options include Amazon, American Express, or Target gift cards, which allow your customers to choose what type of gift they want.
One of the Intronis Partners even does a gift card contest with his customers during the holidays, and we can imagine how this helps keep customers engaged during the busy holiday season. If you do a gift card drawing or contest like this, remember to send a “thank you” in an email or card to everyone who didn’t win.
2. Host a budget-friendly event
We know most of you see “host an event” and immediately think there’s no way you have time to do that. But don’t dismiss it as an option. Hosting an event doesn’t need to be stressful, and it is possible to host an event on a budget.
Hosting an event can mean simply inviting customers to your office for holiday cookies and coffee for an hour or two one morning. Or, you could also invite them to your office for lunch and have a pizza party. Both options are affordable and get your customers into your office for a face-to-face meeting. This presents an opportunity to grow your relationship with each customer in a more casual way and ask them how their business is running, how their needs have changed, and if there’s anything else you can be doing to support their IT.
3. Mail personalized thank you cards
If you’re strapped for time and money, a great option is to send a personalized card to your customers. Cards are an easy and cost-effective way to tell your customers “thank you.” And, as you noticed from what you received from your vendor, there’s something to be said for a personal, hand-written note sent through the actual mail.
Personalize the notes beyond just including the customer’s name. Highlight a business accomplishment or milestone they’ve hit in the past year. Remind them that you’re here to support their IT throughout 2016, and encourage them to reach out if they need anything else or want to add more services. They’ll appreciate the thoughtful gesture. We know you’re busy, so consider splitting the list up between your technicians. Or, spend a few minutes each day tackling a stack of cards; it will go faster than you think.
4. Ship baked goods
This option is a bit more tricky, but can be very effective. Everyone loves baked goods, especially around the holidays. And a surprise package of cookies, brownies, peppermint bark, or pumpkin bread, can go a long way in making your customers happy. Bake something yourself or order treats through a local baker.
5. Give away company swag
If your MSP is like most businesses, you probably have a closet full of unworn T-shirts, baseball hats, sweatshirts, mugs, pens, stickers, etc. Rather than gathering dust in your office, send that swag to your customers. It can help your customers to feel more connected to your business and strengthen your relationship. Plus, it’s free advertising for your business!
6. Make a donation to a charity
As much as free food and gifts will please your customers, it’s also important to give back. With Giving Tuesday coming up on Tuesday, December 1, consider picking a charity you’d like to support and making a donation in your customers’ name. You can also encourage them to contribute to the charity you’ve sponsored. Kyle Garland of DayStar Computer Services Inc, said that his company donated six computers to a non-profit organization last year. You’ll feel good donating, and your customers will be honored to be part of the effort.
We hope you’re able to use these options to find a way to connect with your customers this holiday season. If you’re like some of us and run out of time to bake something, ship gift cards, or write out thank you notes, consider giving your customers a shout out on social media. A simple 140 character Tweet acknowledging a customer could help them gain more exposure and bring in new business.
Ask an MSP Expert is a weekly advice column answering common questions from MSPs and IT service providers. It covers topics ranging from pricing and selling to marketing and communications—and everything in between.