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Make your business memorable without breaking your budget

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These days, we often seem to live our lives in front of a screen. We’re bombarded with emails and dazzled by websites, and online transactions don’t need any human input at all. It’s thought that 80% of revenue comes from 20% of existing clients but, without that personal touch, even loyal customers can drift away.

How customers feel drives their behaviour. Businesses using imaginative ways to build an emotional connection not only stand out from their competitors but are also more likely to have happy, returning customers.

Here are two budget-friendly, IT-free ideas to make your customers smile during the holiday season. Better still, you’ll get the chance to spend a little creative time away from your computer.

Idea 1: Write a thank-you note
Do you remember how valued you felt the last time you received a handwritten letter or card? Knowing that someone has taken the time to write, when they could have dashed off an email or not bothered at all, makes a big impression in this electronic age. In fact, research suggests that it really is the thought that counts.

Personally thanking customers (or suppliers) who have supported your business is not just about increasing sales – a wise company genuinely appreciates its customers. After all, without them there would be no company at all. The best approach? A handwritten note. It might sound retro, but you’ll be making someone’s day for just the cost of stationery and postage.

Here are some tips for the perfect thank-you note:

1. Always use high-quality stationery, at least 120gsm writing paper or 300gsm silk-coated postcards or gift labels.

2. Think carefully about your pen. A standard rollerball is fine but if you’re wanting to wow your recipient, consider using a good-quality paint marker such as the edding 750 and edding 751. Shimmering, smudge-proof and hardwearing, they come in 14 vibrant colours, including festive gold, so you can really let your ideas bloom. If you want to send more than just a letter or card, they also work on coated paper, glass, metal, wood, ceramic and plastic. They’re opaque even on dark surfaces or paper. Contrasting the ink colour with the surface colour gives your message maximum impact.

3. Spell your customer’s name correctly, or they’ll be more annoyed than delighted.

4. Explain why you’re writing, relating it directly to the recipient, so that they know your message is just for them. It’s not a sales letter, so don’t include a money-off voucher or ask for anything in return.

5. Keep your note short and to the point, so that the recipient knows that you are genuinely grateful for their custom. It’s fine to show some personality, but bear in mind that humour can fall flat.

6. Your handwriting should be legible, but don’t worry if it’s not perfectly cursive – in fact, a realistic, everyday style produces the friendly, informal tone that you’re looking for.

7. When you’ve finished, check your message carefully and then ask someone else to spot any errors. They’ll also be able to tell you whether your handwriting is easy to read!

It’s worth making personalised notes a regular commitment. Everyone likes to feel appreciated, whatever the time of year. And, of course, this approach can raise a smile - not only with customers, but also with business partners, friends and colleagues. If you’ve recently benefited from a team member’s support, for example, why not write to let them know how much they’re valued?

Idea 2: Write on your windows
Of course, not all shopping is online and nothing beats the bustle of a busy street. With so many options grabbing the attention of passers-by, once again personalisation can draw them in. It’s also true of offices – you can really engage staff by customising corporate surroundings.

Whether you want to celebrate the season or announce a flash sale, adapt your conference room, shop windows or menu boards to make a statement that’s hard to resist.

Consider these tips:

1. Chalk markers, such as edding 4090 and edding 4095, are an inexpensive and easy way to set your store or workspace apart without having to use messy glue or paint. Their water-based liquid chalk draws and writes on any non-porous surface, whether it’s glass, chalkboards or mirrors – in fact, anywhere that customers or colleagues may look.

2. Let your creativity run wild with bold images and eye-catching colours, but know when to stop. A sign or design that’s too complicated will put people off. Often, a single colour, such as white for a snow-scene, works just as well. But choose your colours carefully – it’s thought that colour affects the decision to buy.

3. If you’re including words, make sure they’re readable and spelled correctly. Quotes or fascinating facts often go down well.

4. Keep your message at eye-level so that it’s most likely to attract potential customers or influence your colleagues.

5. Regularly change your design or message to maintain its impact. If you’ve used a chalk marker, you can simply wipe it away with a damp cloth. If you want to replace Christmas snowflakes with, say, spring flowers, it’s easy to do.

Whatever you decide, personalising your marketing will have a big impact for a small cost.

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