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Giving Thanks to Your Customers

| December 6, 2012 | 5 Comments

What’s one memorable way startups can thank their customers this time of year?

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

1.)     A Personal Email From the CEO

A direct email. From the CEO, that I actually write. Think of those Steve Jobs emails. Everyone talked about them. I’m not Steve Jobs, but when the CEO takes an inbound call, writes a thank you note, or welcomes you from the front desk when you stop by the office it makes a lasting impression.

Wade Eyerly, Surf Air 

2.)     Get Creative (Really Creative!)

Our creative team made a Flash game for the holiday season called “Balls Of Snow.” Advertisers and publishers chose their side and engage in a virtual snowball fight. We thanked everyone on that year’s holiday card and included a link to our game.

Michael Seiman, CPX Interactive 

3.)     December Discounts

To spur holiday sales and thank current customers, small business owners can offer a large discount for holiday purchases. Plus, you’re likely to offer plenty of discounts anyways during December, so you’re really not negatively impacting your profits as much as you might think.

Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance 

4.)     Hand-Written Thank You Notes

Last November, we launched a new product. In advance of this launch we sent postcards with a personal message to over 1,000 customers. The time and money put into this, as well as the personalized message, showed these folks just how much we appreciated their support from the following year. Plus, we were able to create a fun and unique touchpoint – the physical mailbox instead of the email inbox!

Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches 

5.)     Random Giveaways

Instead of the standard Happy Holidays newsletter, having some giveaways to your best customers will keep them coming back. We actually prefer to thank our best customers at random times, not the standard holidays like everyone else. We think a “Thank You, just because” is more memorable than a “Thank you and happy holidays” message.


6.)     Just Make a Phone Call

Call and say “thank you.” It’s amazing how rare that simple phrase has become. Adding a personal touch is the icing on the cake.

Brent Beshore, AdVentures

 7.)     Say “Cheese!”

We take a group picture of our entire startup team and sent it by mail to all of our customers with a printed letter in the back. We would love to hand-write each one, but that would take forever. Our customers love it because they feel like they’re part of our team and support us as we grow the company. We even get letters back from some of our clients!

Jay Wu, Best Drug Rehabilitation 

8.)     Homemade Treats

There’s nothing like knowing that someone not only took time to think of you, but also put a little love into the process. Bake up some homemade treats, wrap them beautifully, and deliver them to your best customers. If you’re worried about dietary concerns, make meringues. They’re not vegan, but they are gluten-free and dairy-free.

Elizabeth Saunders, Real Life E®

9.)     A Relevant Reminder

There’s no one-size-fits-all for gift giving. Think about what gifts your clients would appreciate most, and would remind them of your work. For example, we are a high-end film production company, so our gifts are custom-made digital picture frames that enable clients to watch films on their desk. It’s classy, relevant, and, since the frame includes our logo, is great publicity for our company.

David Adelman, Reel Tributes and ReelGenie

10.)     Great Service

Very simply — by providing a great service or product. Frills and unplanned gifts are great, but the best present a company can give their customers is a good value for the money they’re spending.

Zach Cutler, Cutler Group

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Category: Startup Advice

  • Lida Hasbrouck

    Great ideas – my question is, why do you think so few businesses, large and small, actually go out of their way to build loyalty by thanking customers? It doesn’t need to take a ton of time and money, but it seems like most think thank-yous are too much to bother with.

    #4 made me think of a startup a friend is planning to launch, SimplySaying ( Basically you’ll be able to automate the process of sending small thank-you gifts to clients.

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  • Anthony

    One reason that businesses don’t go out of their way to build loyalty by thanking customers is probably because they don’t have a process in place for it and therefore it never crosses their mind and vice versa. Many businesses think that it should always be the customer thanking the business but if you flip that notion on it’s head then you build loyalty and increase the likelihood of your customers referring and promoting your business for you which is pure gold dust.

    Some excellent ideas covered in this post that I will be definitely be passing on to my CEO!

  • UK Wholesale

    On this special occasion of Christmas and New Year, the best option is to give them a discount voucher. So they can do more shopping with this or save money for another purpose. And 10th point should not be avoided in any case.

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