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Building a competitive edge from a simple thank you

As the year draws to a close it’s been interesting to see how many marketing campaigns are featuring the words ‘thank you’ in them.  This short but powerful phrase leaps off the pages or resonates in our ears when we see or hear it.  We suddenly pause what we’re doing and, for a second, take notice.

Thank you still has the power to grab our attention and, for a moment, make us feel good.

‘Tis the season

Of course the season of goodwill is traditionally a popular time to thank ones customers, valued contacts and supporters. Saying that, there does seem to be more of a movement this year to publicly declare thanks.

Perhaps it’s because there are more positive economic forecasts venturing forth in the media?  Perhaps it’s because business owners feel they’ve got over the worst the downturn has to throw at them?  Or perhaps it’s because people aren’t taking things for granted and still need that customer and supporter loyalty to help them get through 2014.

At the same time, businesses I see and speak to seem to be very busy.  There appears to be more confidence about, and the run up to the Christmas holiday is looking hectic for many.  So if you haven’t yet managed to plan your ‘thank you’ to your valued customers, contacts and suppliers, you really might want to make this an urgent priority.

The perils of not saying thanks

Because, standing out from the crowd by not saying thanks isn’t going to do your business any favours.  Also, it’s preventing you from using this simple gesture to strengthen goodwill towards your business. In fact a token of thanks can prove a catalyst for forging a closer business relationship with a customer or valued contact – one which helps you deliver more value to them in the year ahead and secure even greater loyalty from them in the long-run.

6 festive thank you essentials

So with the festive holiday looming, here are some simple tips to ensure your ‘thank you’ helps your business survive and grow in 2014.  Even though the year is drawing to an end, there’s still time to acknowledge and show your appreciation for those your business simply couldn’t do without.

  1. Be sincere – whether it’s in your choice of words, your tone of voice or your choice of thank you token make sure your ‘thank you’ sounds like you mean it.  The more tailored you can make it, the more it will ring true with the recipient and give them that nice warm fuzzy feeling.
  2. Keep it simple – you actually don’t have to blow the budget on a swanky thank you gift to show you really value someone’s support or custom to your business.  Often the simple tokens can mean more – especially if they’re personalised to that person’s interests and personality.  If you have limited budget, ensure you at least give a thank you token to the key client accounts – or those people who your business really depends on.
  3. Consider their schedule – everyone is very busy at this time of year and so you don’t want your thank you effort to risk falling off their radar. If you can, avoid email as inboxes are already bulging at the seams.  Think about when might be best to deliver your thank you message, given your contact’s schedule and commitments.  Also factor in what form your thank you should take to really get noticed.
  4. Charitable thank you’s – many firms give a charitable donation instead of sending Christmas cards.  Try to at least acknowledge customers’ charity preferences so they at least feel involved in this gesture.  Run a mini poll or ’10-second-to-complete-survey’ where customers vote for one of, say, 3 charities you propose to support (a bit like the Waitrose green token/community support scheme). Make it a fun activity and communicate the end results to build interest and show you’ve listened.
  5. Follow up – check your thank you message or token has got through to the right person and re-emphasise your appreciation of their support and business this year.  Use this positive gesture as another opportunity to find out how things are going and what is on the horizon for them in 2014.  Make a note of this and in the New Year get back in touch to offer help with the points they mentioned.
  6. New year thanks – if it’s impossible for you to express your thanks before the festive holiday ensure you deliver it the minute everyone returns in the New Year.  Use this time to stand out from the crowd and, in acknowledging your gratitude for your customers/contacts’ support in 2013, also wish them hearty good luck wishes for the year ahead.  As people take a little while to get back into the swing of things after Christmas, use this time delay to secure a catch up coffee or lunch.  Discuss the year ahead and what plans they have in store, whilst this is all fresh in their minds and they (hopefully) feel energised after the holiday.  This insight can highlight areas you can better support them in 2014.

Summary

Our busy lives mean that often the simple gesture of thanking someone gets forgotten.  Yet without our loyal customers, our valued contacts and the great supporters of our business where would we be?  A thank you can still stir positive emotions in those receive it.  So turn this simple two-word phrase to your competitive advantage.  Acknowledge those who helped your business get through another 12 months and let them know you genuinely appreciate this support.  Use the opportunity to also find out how you can better support them in 2014.

And finally, a very heartfelt thank you to you, my Women Unlimited readers.  Thank you, not just for reading my monthly column throughout 2013, but also for all your great comments and support.

Wishing you a very happy Christmas and a highly prosperous 2014.

Michelle x

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About Michelle Daniels

An experienced and effective business development and marketing strategist, Michelle has built a successful career increasing top line growth for service businesses and organisations. She helps her clients turn their marketing, business development and thought leadership plans into reality with her ‘hands on’ support and practical advice. A prolific writer, Michelle also combines creative flair with business nous to produce highly effective results. She has written (and ghostwritten) for many professional and business publications and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and professional services marketing group. Extended Thinking is a hands-on marketing and business development consultancy. Bringing together great minds and great ‘doers’, we help our clients devise and implement plans that achieve real business growth. Our clients come from a wide variety of backgrounds and sectors, but invariably are those who are too busy or lack the resources to action their marketing and business development plans. We roll our sleeves up and muck in to free them up to do what they really want to do and are good at doing.

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