I started to do some spring cleaning in the office this past weekend and decided to tackle a filing cabinet that I haven't touched in about four years. I came across a file titled, "Personal Correspondence" and began to get this tremendous feeling of guilt as I perused the contents of the manila folder. Enclosed were thank-you cards and letters from business owners, politicians and acquaintences who took the time to personally send a note to me via the U.S. Postal Service.
After spending about 30 minutes reading all of the kind letters and cards, I realized why I had saved the memorabilia: I appreciated the gestures and the time spent to communicate someone's positive thoughts about me and/or my newsletter.
That's why I've decided to spend a few minutes each week to send cards and notes to those who have gone above and beyond what is asked to show my appreciation. Sure, I could easily zip off an e-mail, but I don't think an electronic message is nearly as personal. In fact, it just makes good business sense to be sure that your customers know how much you appreciate their efforts to make your company operate better.
If writing thank-you cards or letters of appreciation are not your cup of tea, then maybe it's time to mail or, better yet, personally deliver a gift of some kind to show a customer how much you recognize their investment in your company. I believe items that last for more than a few weeks have the most impact, such as pens, magnetic products or key chains.
I still have a calculator on my desk, a tape measure in the utility drawer in my kitchen and an umbrella on my golf bag from customers who rewarded me with something that has their logo stamped on it and has stood the test of time.
Other products that are inexpensive, but practical, include a small flashlight, a ruler, a tote bag or calendar. Maybe you forward something sports-related or industry-specific. Bankers could deliver a piggy bank; golf pros could hand out balls, tees or a towel; or a computer company could supply its clients with a mouse pad. Anything that prominently displays your company logo is worth the time to take advantage of the free advertising and demonstrate your appreciation to a new or existing customer.
I have golf balls, three-ring binders and tote bags with logos displayed for each of my businesses. But a personalized note and/or card saying "thank you " is a much better gift that only takes minutes out of my day. I'm surprised more business owners don't take the time.