The secret of appreciation marketing

by Rafael Mael

There are countless places to put your company’s name: online and offline, social media and email marketing, your storefront and your store’s bags. But where’s the MOST powerful place for your company’s brand?

The answer is on the wall of your customer’s house.

Come on, you say. My customer would never let me advertise in his/her personal domain. Private spaces are private. Right?

While it’s true that you can’t make a customer slap an ad on her living room wall, you can gain entry to the most powerful spot of all for your brand. 

The Secret of Customer Appreciation

Customer appreciation is a neglected art. Although most independent store owners have good intentions, the stress of running a retail store often means that gratitude equals a heartfelt “thanks” after a purchase, and not much more.

That’s a mistake – but it’s one that can be fixed.  The time to start showing appreciation is NOW! 

Now, I’m not talking about a bogus “Customer Appreciation Sale” that’s really a “Store Appreciation Sale.” I’m referring to straightforward, no-nonsense, honest-to-goodness appreciation for the people who spend their money in your store.

My Grandmother’s Rule

I remember my grandmother discussing thank you letters. Her rule was simple: if someone gave you something, you needed to show gratitude, in writing.

My grandmother’s rule was true then, and it’s true now. But now, since it’s so neglected, a genuine thank you letter truly stands out.

A thank you card needn’t be fancy, but it needs to convey authentic feeling. That means physical (nope, email doesn’t count), personalized (no “Dear Customer”), and – unless your handwriting is truly illegible -- written and signed by hand.

Where Thank You Cards Go

Go into homes (and workplaces) around Canada and what you DON’T see are ads plastered on the walls. But what you often DO see are cards. Cards stuck to the refrigerator, cards pinned on the corkboard and cards hung on the walls of an office cubicle.

That’s because cards are about feelings. Nobody wants to stare at something that is a reminder of a dry transaction. But a card that encompasses the relationship that you have with your customer – well, that’s something we all enjoy seeing.

That’s how your store’s name ends up in the most prized location of all, right in front of your customer’s eyes as a reminder of your appreciation.

Making It Practical

Now, making this happen does take some effort. But it’s worth it!

Let’s say you’ll be sending thank you cards when someone has been a customer for a year. You’ll need some system to regularly review your customer list and “trigger” the card writing and sending activity. Of course, as an independent business owner, you have a little advantage: you know your customers personally. Because you serve a local market, you know them – and you even know what they like.

For extra special customers, it may even be appropriate to send a gift. Here is a very clever promotion run by TD Bank, where they transformed ATMs into “Thanking Machines” to display gratitude to customers across Canada.

Granted, you won’t have that kind of budget. But your relationship with your customer can certainly be as strong (or stronger) than their connection to their bank.

Sure, some of the cards you send will end up getting tossed. But all of your effort will be worth it for those customers who stop and smile – and then put your thank you card right where they can see it.


Rafael Mael is a marketing strategist, business adviser and an electrifying professional speaker. He’s the founder of Maelstrom Marketing, focused on helping independent business owners boost sales and streamline operations.

Rafael will be a speaker at the Alberta Gift Fair. Don’t miss his presentations, Making Your Message Irresistible and Fire Up Your Store’s Marketing Now!