In any business, one of the biggest realities is that it’s much easier (and cheaper) to keep an existing client than to acquire a new one. If you think about all the things that go into getting a customer, that makes perfectly good sense.

In the past, companies would send out branded calendars or coffee mugs on a customer’s birthday, or custom printed holiday cards every December. But these old style ideas lack in creativity, to say nothing of the fact that a customer might like your business but that doesn’t mean they want to walk around with a coffee mug emblazoned with your branding!

So what are some new and fun ways to say “Thank You” to your customers, all year around?

Client/Customer Coupons

Who doesn’t love to get something for nothing? Show your customers that you appreciate their business and recognize their loyalty with a discount on a future service they typically buy or offer them a new service free of charge, as a bonus. Either way, your customer will be happy that you thought of them and that they’re getting something back, into the bargain!

Another good idea is to offer some kind of benefit if they refer your business and that person or business engages with yours. Call them ‘referral rewards’ or something to that effect and let the positive effort of word of mouth do its magic.

So many companies only offer their specials to ‘new customers’, so buck that trend and be sure to reward your VIP customers too!

Send Them a Shout Out on Social

Use your business social media accounts to give your special clients a “shout out” on #FollowFriday, or any other day of the week, letting others know how much you like them! This works best in a business-to-business customer relationship, where you both have something to gain by a little public exposure. Be sure to mention why you love them as potential customers who are viewing your Tweet, Facebook post or Instagram will be curious to go check them out too!

Do you have a blog? You can profile a customer on it every once in awhile, giving them free exposure and letting them know that you value them.

Host a Family Fun Day

The effort that goes into planning a fun event is nothing compared to the happiness you are sharing with customers. Rent out an area ice skating rink for an afternoon or buy tickets for a family-themed movie, along with popcorn! It’s a relaxed, ‘offline’ kind of way to connect with your favorite customers that allows everyone to put down their work hats for a few hours and get to know one another.

Send a Gift Card

Everyone LOVES getting a gift card to their favorite coffee shop, restaurant, or salon. Get into the habit of sending gift cards to clients and customers throughout the year. Even if you haven’t heard from someone in a while, a small gesture like a coffee card can put your business back front and center in the recipient’s mind. A good place to be so that they next time they need some of what you offer, you’re the first person they think of.

Check In Once in Awhile

Even the act of checking in with clients and asking them what they like and what could be improved with your service is showing that you appreciate them. It’s a personal level of engagement that tells the customer that you value their opinion, and their business, so much so that you would actively solicit feedback, even at the risk of some of it being negative.

Create Something Personal

If you sell e-Books, create a version with a personalized flyleaf for your best customers. If you sell cake, make one that looks like the logo of your best customer and send it over. Whatever it is that you do, find a way to personalize a response that will make your best customers feel special. Even better if you can retain an element of surprise; that makes these gestures even more fun and engaging.

The key with customer appreciation is to be consistent with it. It shouldn’t be a once a year event, but should be ongoing and active, so that you are always engaging with your customers, even when they’re not actively “buying” from you.