Appreciation marketing is a relatively new term but it’s a way of business that most small business owners have built their customer base on for years. By letting people know they are appreciated, a relationship is established and customers feel valued. They, in turn, become lifelong customers and sources of many referrals.

All because of simple appreciation.

You know that birthday or Christmas or Birthday card you get from your insurance agent?  There’s a lot of thought that goes behind that concept. He or she becomes more of a real person to you, not just an insurance agent. And you probably feel a little happy being remembered on your birthday.

With the surge of online business, work-at-home moms now have a lot of competition. Any consumer can buy their products or services, but if the customer “forgets” the site, or simply feels there was no value in returning there, the sale is lost. A  simple 5 second Google search can lead the buyer to another site for the same, or similar product.

And this cycle will continue until a relationship is established. 

How do you break that cycle? Send your customer a thank you card, a birthday card, or a holiday card. There’s a much higher chance they will return to make subsequent purchases from you. If you create a mailing list and distribute useful tips and personal tidbits, you become “real” to your customer.  If you offer free gifts, or raffles, you keep them coming back for more, feeling special that you are generous enough to appreciate their business. Facebook fan pages can be another great way to build a relationship, but don’t forget personal, customized mailings.

The solid foundation you are building is a priceless tool.

The cost? It can be only several dollars a year per person to mail cards or postcards of appreciation to your customer. It’s easy to build a database and even send gifts out automatically with sites such as SendOutCards.

The return? They may become lifelong customers, refer friends and may even join on your team if your business grows this way.

In a time when a Facebook or text message to say Happy Birthday is becoming the norm, it’s time to stand out from the crowd and be the one people remember. Showing gratitude to the customer who purchases and uses your products is the way to build a strong relationship. It also just feels good!  Create value to your customer, let them know that their business is appreciated and watch your repeat business and referrals surge.