Well, it’s that time of the year again. Gobble gobble. Everyone will eat more food and more leftovers than last year. Families will gather and (some thankfully) depart. Many people are now practicing the, “Send a Thanksgiving card to beat those who send Christmas cards.” Yeah, that’s a good idea. Instead of sending an insincere Christmas card, you can send an insincere Thanksgiving card. Now of course not everyone sends an insincere holiday card. But many have a “list,” and they send a card to everyone on it no matter what.
What Thanksgiving is really all about is giving thanks; or better said, saying thanks. How do you say thanks? Go into any retail store and most of the time (not all the time) some clerk will say, “Thanks and have a nice day.” Do they only mean that day? If I didn’t buy anything, would they still want me to have a nice day? After they say the same thing 1000 times, do they really mean it, or are they just repeating it out of habit?
Back to Thanksgiving. For many, there is a genuineness about Thanksgiving. For me personally, it’s my favorite holiday. Friends and family gather around and give thanks for the meal, but I’ve always used it for a time of reflection. Who can I call to say hello to? Who do I wish was at the dinner that has passed away? What do I really need to be thankful for? And what actions will I take to show my thankfulness? That’s thanksgiving to me. Oh sure, I love the turkey, I love the stuffing, I love the cranberry sauce, I love the pumpkin pie, but way more than that, I love the feeling. After Thanksgiving comes the panic before Christmas: the list, the shopping, the 6am sales, the traffic, the hustle bustle. In all of that you may be forgetting that “saying thanks” thing that you resolved to do at Thanksgiving. So please permit me to awaken you as to the reality of Thanksgiving and the promise of Christmas. The simple answer is: saying thanks. Most businesses spend a bunch of time and money going after new customers. Most businesses also have a turnover or attrition or churn or loss of old customers, some as much as 50%. Upper management will say “this is normal” because they wouldn’t want anyone to think it was abnormal, when in fact, 50% or more of customer loss is preventable. Most businesses fail to realize that their present customers constitute 100% of all their sales, and 100% of all their profit. Yet by comparison of marketing dollars spent, they’re frightfully less to keep their existing business than they do to gain new business, a fact that has always perplexed me. Here’s what I recommend you do this holiday season, so that you can keep people for the next holiday season:
1. Call as many customers as you can personally. No email, no letter, no card, just call. Leave a message telling them how much you appreciate their business this year, and how you look forward to earning their business next year.
2. If you are going to send a card, sign it personally with a note thanking them in addition to whatever your printed message says.
2.5 Resolve to help them over the course of the next year, so that you can be seen as more than a vendor or a product provider, and be looked at more as a partner.
Here are a few value ideas to get you thinking:
If you sold them a house, show them how to build equity.
If you sold them a copier, show them how to be more efficient in the office.
If you are an accountant or lawyer and they are your client, show them how to protect their assets or their family.
Everyone has a value that they can share, and most don’t take advantage of it. I’m not saying gift giving is wrong. I am saying that you can add to any of your gifts in a personalized way that will make your customers appreciate you, and think twice before they stop doing business with you, and not have to think twice if they are going to refer someone to you.
There’s a big difference between giving thanks and saying thanks. My recommendation is that this holiday season you overdose on both.
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