When I hear people talk about the best tools for business growth and creating customer loyalty, I can’t help but smile. Because among the lists of complicated 10-step marketing plans and expensive apps, there’s a simple, super effective one that so many people miss. And that’s the power of the “creative thank you.”
One of the easiest, most fun, and most effective ways to create fans and forge strong connections is to tell someone thank you. But we’re not talking about any old thank you here. What we want to do is write sincere notes of gratitude in a creative way that connects at a deeper level, builds new relationships, strengthens existing ones, and leaves a lasting impression.
According to social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk, we are living in a “Thank You Economy.” In his book with that same title, he stated that only those companies who mind their manners in a very old-fashioned way, and treat each customer as though he or she were the most important customer in the world, will have a prayer of competing.
I couldn’t agree more.
However, I feel that Gary’s advice can be applied to more than just customers or clients. Yes, business growth and success is built on a foundation of satisfied customers. But there are more people than that who have a hand in helping us to grow and thrive, including mentors, masterminds, vendors, joint venture partners, newsletters subscribers, virtual assistants, graphic designers, social media followers, and even baristas who keep us fueled up and running strong all day long.
Since the first days of my own business, I’ve made it a practice to send a variety of thank-you’s to people who make a positive impression in my life. Customers, yes. But also all the other people I’ve just mentioned and more.
As a writer, I like to get creative with what I do, even when writing something as simple as a thank you. I’ve found that taking an extra step and sharing creative thoughts of gratitude make a much bigger impression – and ignite some pretty positive results. Subscribers pay it forward by sharing my newsletter with colleagues and friends. New clients keep coming back. And connections turn into relationships that turn into lucrative joint ventures.
How can you harness the power of appreciation? It starts with what you say (or write). And the format, or place, you send your thank yous. Cards are great, I love ‘em, but a surprise thank you in a different format can have as much impact as well.
Here are 5 unique ways you can share gratitude with special people in your business and life, and a little help for brainstorming the perfect words to spread warm, happy feelings during this season, and all year round.
#1: The Top Fan Creative Thank You
Make a list of your Top Fans. You know, the ones that have been with you from Day 1. They’ve cheered you on, participated in your programs, given you valuable and honest feedback and support. They are the best! Send them a personal email. And with that email, a special gift, something that took a little time or effort and they would really appreciate.
As an example, I recently sent a “love letter” to one of my biggest fans. And as I knew she was launching a new branch of her business, and using social media, I took some time pull a few quotes from her own writing and create gorgeous graphic images that featured her quote, name and website.
All of this was done in less than 30 minutes (both email writing and image creation). And I used a free online graphic design site, so it cost me nothing.
#2: The Unexpected Thank You
Thank someone who won’t expect it. Out of the blue. For no specific reason, or because you really appreciate some small way they helped you out or made a difference in your day. Use email, or do it publicly using social media. Keep it simple, sweet, and include a silly token such as a cute photo, quote, or link to a happy, inspirational video. Put a smile on their face and a spring in their step.
Here’s an idea for how to write something like this:
Every time I see you I smile. Why? Because you were the first person to say hi to me when I joined that new bootcamp. You always make me smile, you helped me over that first hump, and your high-fives are what keep me going when I’d rather just run away. You took the time to make me feel like a part of something great, and because of you I’ve finally stuck to something that makes me feel better too!
#3: The Pre-Thank You
Thank new fans or followers BEFORE they invest in you.
When a new potential customer first signs up for your newsletter list, follows you on social media, or sends you a simple inquiry, NOW is the time to let them know how grateful you are.
Where’s the best way to do this? Have a few template emails ready to go.
For newsletters, set up a welcome email that is automatically sent when someone subscribes. Just say no to using the automatic emails your service set up for you – rewrite your welcome email in your own voice and address it to that person using their first name. Make a strong first impression by sharing how grateful you are that they took a chance on you, and include a small thank you gift such as access to something secret, a download, a tip about a cool free graphic design site, or an invitation to set up a quick phone chat.
For people who reach out via social media or email, you can have the same templates ready to go in your Draft folder as well.
#4: The Old School Thank You
There’s nothing quite like a handwritten letter. Think about your best clients of all time, mentors such as business or life coaches, colleagues that cheer you on, or your biggest fans on social media. Take a minute to find their snail mail address and surprise them with a hand-written note.
Be specific about what you’re thanking them for. Not just “thanks for helping” but “thanks for taking the time to sit down over PSL’s and brainstorm what I needed to add to my new program. Every time I have a maple pecan scone now I’ll think of you!” Make them personal, original and to-the-point and you’ll really make their day.
#5: The Secret Handshake Creative Thank You
This one is my favorite! Next time you attend a business networking meeting or live event, take the opportunity to sneak a thank you gift or card to someone who deserves it. Maybe it’s the leader of a networking group that has transformed your business. Or a woman who took the time to make you feel comfortable at your first meeting. Someone who sent a lucrative referral your way, or someone who just makes you laugh. Write up a card, include something small such as a gift card, invitation, sticker, candy, etc. Slide it into their bag so they find it later, or smoothly hand it to them as you’re leaving the event. Make it low-key so they don’t feel awkward or obligated – just appreciated.
Bottom line, gratitude is super valuable in itself just for the joy it brings to everyone involved. But it can also support a strong and growing business by creating unbreakable bonds between you and your audience – and inspiring them to return again and again because you make them feel special. Because really, isn’t that what we all want?