As the marketing adage goes, it’s always easier to sell to past/current customers than it is to brand new shiny ones. The question is, how can you encourage repeat business, especially for B2C companies that depend on getting people into their stores?
Here are some examples of different brands rocking repeat business…and how your company can implement the ideas.
1. Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Days. Ben & Jerry’s sets aside a day every year and gives away its frozen treats for free as a way to “thank our customers for their support and to celebrate over 3 decades of scooping.”
Why this idea rocks: Um, who doesn’t love FREE ice cream? And what a great way to get people into ice cream shops where they will get the full Ben & Jerry’s experience, see all the other flavors and treats available, and be reminded why they should visit again soon.
How you can implement this idea: What product or service can you give away for free? If you have a brick and mortar storefront, consider some sort of “free” day or free combo day (for example, if you own a salon, perhaps you offer a free pedicure with every haircut booked in June).
2. Starbucks Free Birthday Beverage. There’s one thing Starbucks knows about each and every one of its customers: they all have birthdays. So what better way to help customers celebrate their special day (and get them in the door) than by offering a freebie drink?
Why this idea rocks: The program is brilliant because you need to have a Starbucks rewards card that you register in order to get the birthday beverage deal. So this program effectively captures customer contact info and allows Starbucks to continue marketing to these targeted customers. Plus, anything that encourages people to walk through the door is a good thing. The fact that this spreads the love every day of the year (as opposed to one day, like the Free Cone Day) is even better.
How you can implement this idea: If you own a restaurant, salon, spa, or some other food or hospitality type of business, you can easily create some sort of birthday rewards program, whether it’s a free appetizer, drink, manicure, you get the idea. But even if you can’t offer something for free on each and every customer’s birthday, a nice thing to do is to acknowledge the big day. For example, accountants and financial planners could send birthday cards to their customers on their birthdays. It’s unexpected and a nice touch (and puts your business front and center in their minds).
3. Dropbox’s “earn more space when you refer friends” offer. We love the fact that Dropbox understands the appeal of its free accounts…and that it helps customers keep their free accounts by “earning space” when friends they’ve referred sign up.
Why this idea rocks: This program creates a sense of goodwill and encourages people to use their Dropboxes with confidence (i.e. fewer worries about space limits), all of which makes upgrading to a paid account that much easier to mentally fathom when the time comes.
How you can implement this idea: This is a modern-day example of the classic referral program. Offer your customers incentives when they refer others to you and the referrals become a client/customer. The incentives could be a discount on future services, some sort of “freebie” offering, or anything else that’s seen as valuable. Read our article on how to set up a small business referral program.
4. Kohl’s Cash. Shop at Kohl’s and get Kohl’s bucks you can use to shop at a future date. The “cash” is, essentially, just that: money you can use only at Kohl’s.
Why this idea rocks: Nothing encourages repeat business so well. It’s like finding $10 (or some other amount) on the street with the one disclaimer being that you have to use it at a specific store during a specific time. Who wouldn’t do that? Kohl’s, of course, isn’t the only store using this strategy. Many retailers include bonus bucks with their receipts as a way to encourage people to come back soon.
How you can implement this idea: The goal is to get people back to your store, your restaurant, your salon, your cute little boutique shop, right? So include some sort of offer with the receipts you hand customers — something that requires them to come back to the store in order to redeem it. Make this a regular feature or use this strategy during slower months to encourage repeat business.
5. Credit Card Points. We’re not naming a specific company here since almost all of them have some sort of “points” offering. The more you use the card to buy things, the more points you rack up that you can apply to all sorts of things from frequent-flyer miles to hotel stays. You can even get cash back.
Why this idea rocks: It’s easy to understand: the more you buy with your credit card, the more “points” you get. It’s like playing a game, and people love games.
How you can implement this idea: An easy way for a small business to use an idea like this is by creating “frequent buyer” cards. Every time people buy something from you, they get “points” in the form of a stamp or hole-punch on a frequent buyer card. Once the card is filled up, they can redeem it for something: a free product or service or upgrade.
All of these ideas encourage people to get back to your store. While there, the chance of them spending money is high. Even the “free” cone and beverage days could easily result in some paid “add-ons” (such as sprinkles on your ice cream cone or a muffin to go with that free coffee).
How about you? What strategies do you use to encourage repeat business? Share in the comments.