Celebrate Customers: 100 Ways You Need To Follow

Balloons to represent celebrate customersYou don’t need a holiday or special event to celebrate customers!


Because your customers are people not business transactions.

Like you, they just want to be noticed and acknowledged as human beings.

So change your perspective to see and treat them as people not accounts!

It’s not just my opinion:

In the 1960 Harvard Business Review article, Marketing Myopia, Professor Theodore Levitt wrote, “The true purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer, not to make you money.” 

When you celebrate your business community, include prospects, customers, employees, suppliers, distributors, influencers and others.

Leave it to Gary Vaynerchuk to say it best: 

When given the choice, people will always spend their time around people they like. @GaryVee #customersClick To Tweet


When you thank your customers and your broader audience, you make them feel good. But even better, you feel happier too!

To help you build and deepen customer relationships, we’ll:

  • Show you the psychological proof to support celebrating your community.
  • Explain the 3 marketing reasons to develop customer relationships. [HINT: It’s good business!]
  • Show you 100 ways to celebrate your customers and your community. 

As a result, you will strengthen your customer and audience relationships that will help grow your business.

Celebrate Customers: Psychological Proof It’s Good For Business

Beyond showing respect, appreciating and celebrating your customers and broader audience contributes to business growth. 


Because by focusing on people, your business proves that it has higher objectives than just making money. 

Further, younger age demographics like Millennials and Gen Zers expect companies to actively help improve the world.

At the heart of the psychological research related to customer appreciation are  Robert Cialdini’s 6 Principles outlined in his book,  Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

Most important is the Rule of Reciprocity:

If someone gives us something, we feel obligated to repay this debt in the future.

Further, reciprocity defines what it is to be human according to anthropologist Richard Leakey. 

More importantly:

You don't need to make a significant offering to tap into the power of reciprocity.Click To Tweet


By using mints as an incentive to increase waitstaff tips, Dr. David B. Strohmetz of Monmouth University proved that the size of the gift doesn’t matter for triggering reciprocity. 

When you show appreciation for members of your community, you tap into their sense of needing to repay the obligation to you. 

Why Celebrate Customers: 3 Marketing Goals To Build Customer Relationships

celebrate customers

Based on the manners that your mother taught you, thanking and celebrating your customers and your broader audience develops a solid foundation for your business.

Despite business’s short-sighted focus on near-term revenues, here are 3 marketing reasons to deepen customer and audience relationships for the long-term.


1. Build customer trust

Consumer trust remains low. (Edelman’s Trust Barometer 2019).

  • 56% of the general public trust businesses.
  • 47% of the general public distrust media. In the US and Canada, 66% trust search, 64% trust traditional media, and 44% trust social media.

Further, data breaches and fake news have eroded consumers’ ability to tell what information is reliable.

As a result:

73% of respondents are concerned about false information or fake news being weaponized. (Edelman).

Therefore you must earn audience trust one person at a time.

Good news for marketers:

Your employees are trusted by the general public! 

  • 65% trust company technical experts. Even better, these employees often work directly with customers to solve customer problems!
  • 53% trust regular employees. No surprise–People feel a connection to other employees since they relate to them as employees themselves. Further, retail and customer service employees provide front line help for customers.
  • 47% trust CEOs. Unfortunately senior business executives must still win support from customers, employees and the public.
Trusted sources-Influencers

People trusted by consumers -2019 Edelman Trust Barometer chart

Actionable Marketing Tips To Build Customer Trust:

  • Create opportunities to reach out and connect with customers and your broader audience. Build trust and learn more about your prospects and buyers.
  • Tap into employee credibility to bond with your audience. Where appropriate develop an employee advocacy program.


2. Increase customer retention

Keeping existing customers satisfied, engaged and buying takes less effort and resources than acquiring and converting new prospects into buyers.

A 5% increase in customer retention produces more than a 25% increase in profit.Click To Tweet


Because you don’t invest time and budget finding new prospects and nurturing them into paying customers.

The loyalty loop doesn’t kick in until after the first purchase!
 Because newbies still test how your business treats them before buying more. 

Customer service remains key to retaining customers.  67% of customers to leave due to a poor experience. (NewVoiceMedia 2018)

And customers prefer talking to a human when they have a problem. 

To resolve a problem:

  • 48% prefer to call.
  • 24% prefer to email.
  • 11% prefer used social media.
  •  6%  prefer to use chatbots.
  •  3% prefer to text

But if customers feel your service failed, their actions have real business costs.

customer service chart 2018

Poor customer service gets people to act – New Voice Media chart

Customer service IS the new marketing. Answer EVERY customer, in EVERY channel, EVERY time. @JayBaer #customersClick To Tweet
Actionable Marketing Tactics To Retain Existing Customers

  • Improve the customer service experience. Offer training and executive support. Empower employees to resolve problems quickly.
  • Allow customers to call if other customer service options don’t work.
  • Create channels to surface problems quickly. Fast track new customer problems and facilitate handoffs to non-sales staff.

3. Encourage Customer Word of Mouth (aka WOM) Experiences

With a smartphone in hand, every member of your community has a megaphone to talk about your business.

Further, they’re trusted sources for getting the “inside scoop”.  More than “people like me” your audience trusts purchase influencers, including family and friends.

So you need help from your community to help persuade new participants and prospects.

But realize that only a small proportion of your community will publicly share their thoughts:

  • 90% will lurk or remain quiet
  • 9% will comment or share and
  • 1% will create content or communications. 

Further word of mouth (aka: WOM) improves marketing that translates to 13% increase in sales. (WOMMA research)

Word of Mouth yields positive ROI – WOMMA Research 2015-Chart


Actionable Marketing Tips To Encourage Word Of Mouth:

  • Create easy-to-use shareable moments. Help customers share their experiences. Or, set up an area in your business for taking and sharing photos on social media as I did at the Marriott Marquis.

    Heidi Cohen takes advantage of a photo opportunity at the Marriott Marquis

  • Monitor what’s being said about your brand and your business. Use a social media monitoring tool. Further, share your audience’s photos and videos.


Celebrate Customers: 100+ Ways To Show Your Audience Appreciation

Use these 100 marketing tactics to celebrate your customers and audience and show how much you appreciate them.

Continually test different methods to determine what works best for your business and various marketing personas.

Balloons to represent celebrate customers

1. Thank your customers

More than old-fashioned good manners, communications provide an opportunity to deepen relationships. Further you can check that customers are satisfied.

  1. Send a thank you email. Skip the one-size-fits-all approach.
  2. Mail customers a thank you letter. With decreased postal mail, your note will stand out.
  3. Send thank you postcards. Where possible, personalize it with a photo!
  4. Handwrite thank you notes. MarketingProfs’s Ann Handley does this for their speakers. They feel special.
  5. Include a thank you note in your package. Use this approach for online and catalog purchases.
  6. Thank your community on social media. At a minimum, respond to shoutouts and comments.
  7. Call customers. In today’s world of digital communications we often forget that we can talk to people in real time.
  8. Get together with clients. For high ticket sales, deepen your relationship by going out for drinks or a meal.
  9. Include a small gift with your package. The gift should relate to your products.
  10. Offer free shipping or delivery. While expected online, this works for local businesses like dry cleaners and pharmacies.

2. Make your customers and audience customers a special offer

Give your community a reason to shop with your again.

  1. Offer an in-store discount valid for a purchase in the future. This works for businesses with a retail presence.
  2. Provide a discount for online purchase in the future. Get customers to shop online again. Alternatively make it easy for them to order more of the same product.
  3. Give retail, online and/or catalog shoppers a “Buy One, Get One Free” offer. In essence, this is a half price promotion. Limit items to high margin products to protect profits. (Here’s how to assess your costs.)
  4. Offer shoppers “Buy One, Get One Half Price” promotion.  Use this offer to drive traffic, reward loyalty or reduce inventory.
  5. Send former customers a targeted coupon via email, mobile or postal mail. This is known as a winback campaign.
  6. Create special offers for email subscribers. Make readers feel special with tailored offers.
  7. Make special mobile offers when shoppers are nearby. 
  8. Include special mobile app promotions. Use these offers to encourage mobile app downloads.
  9. Make special tailored offer based on purchase in post-purchase emails. Take advantage of customer interest in your products.
  10. Create Get-A-Friend (GAF) or referral offers. Reward customers who bring in new business and their friends.


3. Put your customers and community in the spotlight

Give your audience and community their 15 seconds of fame to make them feel special. Think Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame in the distracted age.

  1. Spotlight customers in your retail space. My local Chase branch posted customers’ dog photos. BTW, they also offer water and biscuits for dogs!
  2. Highlight customers and your community on your website, blog or social media. For example, Rockstar knitting designer Stephen West spotlights knitters wearing his designs on his Instagram account, @WestKnits. (BTW, West has 130,000+ followers!)

    Customer Appreciation

    Knitters rock their Stephen West sweaters on Instagram

  3. Add a “Community Member of the Day” feature to your social media feeds. Also use this approach for your email newsletters.
  4. Feature customers in your emailings, newsletters, magazines and other communications.
  5. Tap into user generated content for a customer-focused content column.  For example, Spin Sucks gathers user input from their Slack Channel for their #SpinSucksQuestion blog column.

    Community appreciation

    Example of community sourced weekly blog column on Spin Sucks

  6. Video your customers. Or, even better, encourage your community create their own. For the 2018 Olympics, Oreo created a customer video contest.

    Celebrate customers

    Oreo takes featuring customers to a new level with their 2018 Olympics tie-in contest

  7. Collect customer video input. Ask customers or influencers the same question. For example, LinkedIn’s Sean Callahan did this at live events and conferences.

  1. Use customer photos in advertising and/or catalogs. MarketingProfs uses professional conference photos of attendees in its promotional emailings.

    celebrate customers

    MarketingProfs features customers in their advertising emailings

  2. Showcase customers’ work or projects in your sales materials and promotional campaigns. It adds credibility since other customers explain how to use your products.
  3. Interview customers and your community on your website, blog, podcast and/or other content. For example, CoSchedule interviewed me on their podcast.

    Influencer interviews

    Heidi Cohen is the featured guest on CoSchedule’s podcast

4. Give customers the gift of content

Provide non-promotional information that your audience needs or wants. Even better it  improves customer relationships by providing content marketing they actively seek.

  1. Reward people who sign up for email. Offer useful content as bait.
  2. Offer prospects additional information after they download information from your website.
  3. Give away e-books. Get traction for your thought leadership.
  4. Spotlight the top people in your category. Lee Odden is master of this approach with his top lists.

    How to spotlight influencers

    Lee Odden spotlights the Top 50 Content Marketers.

  5. Create online training and how to’s for your audience. Help your audience use your products.
  6. Give your audience free patterns and recipes. Kraft built their top ranked food site this way.

    Kraft’s free recipes made it a Top 5 Nielsen cooking destination (pre-content marketing)

  7. Present a webinar on a topic of interest. Then transform the recording into evergreen content.
  8. Entertain your audience, especially with videos. I love Tim Washer’s Cisco Valentine! 


  1. Snap customer’s photos. Even better make it shareable or frame it as a gift (like this one from Content Marketing World). This is my favorite give-away! Heidi Cohen at CMWorld 2017
  2. Send customers personalized updates via email. Use this communication to deepen relationships. It works well for pet care.

5. Give customers a gift

Celebrate customers by tapping into the power of reciprocity with gifts.

  1. Reward your audience sharing their mobile phone information. Give them a gift or discount.
  2. Give customers a special offer gift card for a future purchase. This helps get them to purchase again.
  3. Provide free gift-wrapping. Save buyers time.
  4. Create want-to-keep-and-reuse branded shopping bags. Help customers be green and promote your business.
  5. Surprise customers with an unexpected treat in their package. This works well to get them to try new products.
  6. Offer samples. Customers love free stuff. Trader Joe’s fuels shoppers and gets them to try new foods.
  7. Run a raffle. Use this tactic to build your email list. In 2016, Pat Flynn gave away his favorite 5 business books.

    Thank customers

    Take a page from Pat Flynn’s Playbook: Reward your audience with books

  8. Team up with another business to create reciprocal offers. Use the power of reciprocity with another firm by exchanging offers. They offer your audience something and you offer their audience something.
  9. Provide a related service for free. For example, dermatologists often give free cancer screenings to new patients.
  10. Manage free online forums to support your community. Use Facebook or LinkedIn Groups or Slack to allow your audience to learn from each other.

6. Offer shoppers and your community special services

Marketing Goal:

Make your audience feel special.

Key to customer appreciation success:

Empower frontline employees to use their discretion when offering special services.

  1. Offer targeted audiences special services. During slow periods, encourage select groups of customers to buy.
  2. Create velvet rope opportunities for high spending customers. Play into the power of scarcity.
  3. Create a special community for customers. Harley Davidson’s HOGS are legendary.

    Celebrate customers

    Harley Davidson’s H.O.G. community site

  4. Give non-drivers or older patrons a ride to your business. For example, Flying Fingers’ yarnmobile drives customers from Manhattan to their suburban location.

    Celebrate Customers

    Flying Fingers uses its Yarn Mobile to pick up customers in NYC and drive them to Tarrytown

  5. Serve breakfast. Target people with tight schedules or people who work at home and want to socialize. Open early and provide coffee and breakfast treats.
  6. Offer customers a drink. Get customers in to relax after work. Wine shops have tastings to attract customers.
  7. Bring the kids. Offer special activities for children, such as a story time.
  8. Deliver local orders for free. Expand your reach and delight customers and gift givers.
  9. Treat customers like royalty. Reward customers with a special level of service such as a better room. To succeed empower frontline employees.
  10. Make customer experiences memorable. Monitor what your audience says on social media to deliver wow experiences. Ron Tite always talks about his stay at the Westin.


7. Create celebrations to invite customers to visit your business

Throw parties and special events to celebrate your customers with special events and parties.

Give your audience a reason to build real life relationships with you and each other to improve customer loyalty and retention. #retentionmarketingClick To Tweet


  1. Throw a party for your customers. For example, Knitty City in NYC celebrates its birthday with cake and discounts.

    Celebrate customers

    New York City yarn store, Knitty City celebrates its birthday every year

  2. Take the party to your customers. Use the old-fashioned Tupperware party.
  3. Host a live clinic and provide product-related help. Become a customer resource. For example, Lions Brand Studio hosts weekly knit and crochet doctor hours.
  4. Give your audience a special sneak preview. Use scarcity to engage customers.
  5. Host special experts, book readings and/or trunk shows. Support influencers and your community.
  6. Create a monthly book club. Encourage your audience to get together on a regular basis.
  7. Host movie night. Lion’s Brand Studio yarn store showed movies with a knitting scene once a month.
  8. Create a special event for your best customers. Invite customers who would benefit from meeting each other.
  9. Honor customers and their BFFs. Get customers to bring their friends to a special event.
  10. Throw a pajamas party for kids. Invite kids to your store for an evening party.

8. Remember your customers’ special milestones

Show your customers that you appreciate them by acknowledging their birthdays and anniversaries.

Celebrate customers

Celebrate your customers’ birthdays & other milestones

  1. Send birthday email. Since some people don’t reveal their age, collect only the month or month and day.
  2. Use the post office to deliver a birthday card. Or, even better, handwrite the note.
  3. Wish your community Happy Birthday Facebook. But, don’t disclose information they may want kept private!
  4. Hold a monthly birthday party in your store or office. This gives you a great reason to gather additional information about your audience.
  5. Give customers a birthday shout out on your website or newsletter. (To help, here’re 50 birthday tactics!)
  6. Send customers a special birthday promotion.
  7. Mail customers thank you cards on their shopping anniversary.
  8. Provide a birthday or holiday reminder service. Help forgetful customers buy gifts for family and friends.
  9. Acknowledge graduates. Give recent graduates a reason to do business with you by giving them a special discount or gift.
  10. Salute the military. Show your gratitude to veterans and active service members by offering them special treatment and/or discounts.

9. Support social causes to celebrate customers

Show your customers and your broader community how your business helps society.

Millennials prefer to support businesses that are concerned about social causes. #millennials #marketing Click To Tweet


Millennials support socially responsible companies compared to other demographics – Nielsen Chart

  1. Donate a portion of your sales to charity. For example, Subaru advertises the NFPs it supports.
  2. Get your business involved in a social or charity cause. For example, offer your product to a charity.
  3. Offer space at your business for a NFP group. Before you do, check your insurance policy for potential issues.
  4. Supply a location to collect donated items. Help not-for-profit groups with limited physical presence.
  5. Include not-for-profit flyers in your shopping bags to help reduce the charity’s media distribution costs.
  6. Put not-for-profit inserts in your packages.
  7. Place not-for-profit “Take Ones” near your checkout or entryway. 
  8. Offer part of your retail window to promote a not-for-profit. For example, Zabars supports the local JCC. This work when you don’t need your window to promote your products.
  9. Promote a not-for-profit on your shopping bag as a co-promotion.
  10. Donate products or services to a notfor-profit raffle. Show your support and get some brand awareness.

10. Celebrate customers by going green

Help to build a better future by caring for the environment and how your products are made.

  1. Go green! Select products that contain recycled or recyclable ingredients. For example, in Belize, some merchants use bags made from corn waste not plastic.
  2. Offer a discount when customers bring their own shopping bag.
  3. Provide a location where the community can bring difficult-to-recycle products. For example, Walgreens collects expired drugs.
  4. Offer a discount to encourage recycling used products. Staples does this for printer ink cartridges and H&M does this for clothes.
  5. Give customers stylish reusable bags. As a result, they promote your business when they shop elsewhere.
  6. Give your leftover food to local soup kitchens and other charities. This applies to food and restaurant businesses.
  7. Provide quality information on your website on how to recycle your products post-use.
  8. Give your customers the option of receiving your communications by email instead of paper. This saves you money as well as reducing trash.
  9. Create a local event to support increasing environmentally friendly consumption. To this end, work with other local businesses and government agencies.
  10. Show your community how your follows green practices. Create videos and other visual content to take them behind the scenes of your business.


The Ultimate Guide To Celebrate Your Customers Conclusion

When you celebrate customers, your goal is to delight your audience by showing that you care.

Thanking customers and showing your appreciation isn’t a promotion parading in a “I Care About You” costume.

Rather show your audience that you truly appreciate their time, consideration and business. To work best, really caring about your customers must be ingrained in your company, brand and employees.

Your objective is to continue to build and deepen your relationship with each customer so that she feels special and positively disposed to your firm.

Bear in mind that one bad experience can not only hurt your relationship with a specific customer but also can have an impact on other potential buyers.

Chances are you’ll never know about this multiplier effect because most word-of-mouth occurs face-to-face.

To maximize the results when you thank and celebrate customers, test a variety of options and test different presentations. Integrate the means to track results in terms of improved customer relations, incremental sales and profits, and increased marketing ROI.

Go on show your audience that you care.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.


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PS: Check out Dan Gingiss’s Winning At Social Media Customer Care.

  Ballons: https://unsplash.com/photos/JpCOGj0uIlI cc zero
  Love hands: https://unsplash.com/photos/Pw5uvsFcGF4 cc zero
  Birthday cake: https://unsplash.com/photos/6KX5uP0sMAw cc zero

Bain reference: http://www2.bain.com/Images/BB_Prescription_cutting_costs.pdf

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on February 14th, 2011. It has been updated and expanded.


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