Customers. Clients. Patrons. Supporters. Members. Donors. The lifeblood of a successful business or organization is made of this group of consumers who believe in your product or service or cause. For without them, we are merely spinning our wheels.
We all understand the importance of expressing our thanks and appreciation to our customers every day, but why not take advantage of Get to Know Your Customers Day to show a little extra love? Get to Know Your Customers Day is celebrated every January, April, July, and October. What can you do to say thank you to your customers? Here are three ideas for you to consider.
Create a Loyalty Program to Show your Appreciation
Super gifts for “SuperFans.” You know them, the repeat customers. The ones who are totally loyal to you. How can you say thanks for their loyalty? One way is to offer a Loyalty Program. This can look like a discount on a product or service, or a gift with purchase, or an exclusive sample or free trial. Have you ever experienced a situation where the business you frequently visit only offers discounts to new patrons? How did that make you feel? Putting ourselves in the place of our customers can provide a different outlook on discounts and rewards. Don’t alienate your loyal customers—it took a lot of hard work to get them in the first place, so give them a little something to say thanks for stopping by, again and again. Perhaps on these days, you can create a special offering just for them!
Have a Party for all your Customers
Who doesn’t love a party? Invite your customers, yes, all of them, to an Open House. A no-strings-attached, get-to-know-us-and-the-staff, enjoy-some-light-refreshments, bring-your-friend, party. That’s a mouthful, but you get the idea. Give your customers an opportunity to know your business a little better, without feeling pressure to buy anything at all. Perhaps you can give away a door prize, or offer party favors with samples of your product. Your customers will leave the event loving you even more than ever.
Write Thank You Notes
Depending on how many customers you have, that may be easier said than done. If your customer list is smaller, you may be able to hand write thank you notes alone, or with the help of a Virtual Assistant or a service like Send Out Cards. Or you can send a thank you email campaign with a link to claim a free thank you gift. Additionally, you can switch up your social media sites with thank you cover photos (this is ALWAYS a great idea!). Sometimes, just saying these two simple words can mean so much.
There are many other ways to express your appreciation to your customers and get to know them better. You know your customers and clients better than anyone. Use your best judgement and find a way to thank them on Get to Know Your Customers Day. You’ll be glad you did.
14 funding resources for women business owners
“Funding is critical to a business,”
states business coach Mike McConchie. Mike did some research to see if he could find information/websites that may be able to provide grants or other funding opportunities for Women Owned Businesses. The results of his research are listed here. Says Mike, “There is approximately 1/3 of the year left. Go for it!”
You can use this website to search for any number of grants with several different parameters: keywords, eligibility, category (agriculture, business, health, etc.) and what type of agency. It is not specifically for women business owners but there looks like there could be opportunities depending on the type of business.
2. Small Business Administration
Research Grants for Small Businesses. If your small business is engaged in scientific research and development (R&D), you may qualify for federal grants under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Again, not specific for women but if their business is in any of the above areas, it would could be worth checking into. There are a number of links that are to specific SBIR and STTR programs throughout the federal government.
3. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)
This is another one where you can search for specific keywords for your business. These are somewhat specific to Federally-funded research and development (R&D) and technology areas.
4. Womens Business Centers (WBC)
This is not actually for grants but it is helpful specifically for women business owners and particularly women who are economically or socially disadvantaged to assist women in starting and growing small businesses. WBCs seek to “level the playing field” for women entrepreneurs, who still face unique obstacles in the business world. Here’s a link specific to centers located in NC.
5. SBA Economic Development Agencies
This is a link to economic development agencies in the area for small business owners or people just starting. There is a lot of valuable information here for someone just starting up. Services provided by these agencies typically include:
a. Start-up advice, training and resources
b. Financial assistance with loans, grants and tax-exempt bonds
c. Business location and site selection assistance
d. Employee recruitment and training assistance
6. NC Small Business Commerce
This is another helpful site for small business owners – more for guidance than anything else.
7. Small Business Development Centers
Similar to the WBCs, this is more guidance for small business owners. These Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) provide assistance to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs throughout the United States and its territories.
8. Amber Grant
This one is specific for women. It is not a large grant but you can apply monthly. From the website: Each month we award a Qualifying Grant of $500 as selected by our WomensNet judges. One of our 12 monthly qualification winners will be awarded our $1,000 Amber Grant at the end of 2016.The August Qualification Grant will be for $500.00. Tell us your story to be considered for our Amber Grant.
9. The Eileen Fisher Grant
This one is specific to women. They award $120,000 in grants for up to 10 grant recipients (minimum grant $12,000) on an annual basis.
10. FedEx Small Business Grants
Each year, FedEx awards small business grants to entrepreneurs all over the country who have a deep passion for their businesses. Winners become part of a community of entrepreneurs that gain and share insights from peers, and enjoy great exposure for their business.
11. The Idea Café
The Idea Café is a free gateway that hosts different grants on its site. Its current grant is the 16th Small Business Cash Grant, which awards one $1,000 grand prize to a business with the most innovative idea – this one is now closed but may be worth looking into for next year.
12. The Smart Women Grants
This is specific to women. Each year, Zions Bank awards one $3,000 Smart Women Grant in 6 categories.
b. Community development
c. Continuing education and teacher support
d. Child and elder care
e. Health and human services
f. Arts and culture
Smart Women Grants help bolster the efforts of entrepreneurs who strengthen our communities through their diverse talents and endeavors. Grants are open to anyone whose proposal promotes the empowerment of women or directly benefits women or low-income or underserved populations in Utah and Idaho.
13. Grants For Women
A comprehensive directory that lists all the organizations and foundations (in alphabetical order) that offer grant funding to women.
14. Minority Business Development Agency
Mostly just a tool for finding out information.
About Mike McConchie
Mike McConchie is owner of a Consulting and Coaching Business Firm – M&M Consultants, Inc. His goal is taking business owners beyond where they would go if left to their own devices. Mike is a Certified Business Coach and a Senior Business Consultant. He helps small business owners maximize their sales and profits, reduce the time they devote to their businesses (allowing them more time for their families) and help them achieve their dreams. He focuses on results, accountability, and helping business owners develop their entrepreneurial skills. Learn more about Mike on his website: www.mikemcconchie.com