January 19, 2023 — Sometimes we learn the most from our mistakes. But it’s even better when you can learn from the blunders others make, especially when it comes to customer appreciation events. Maybe that’s because repeat customers spend 33% more than new ones. So you want customers to leave the event feeling valued. Start by steering clear of these common mistakes and maximize the impact of your next customer appreciation event.
Mistake #1: Don’t Set a Budget
It’s easy for event costs to get out of hand. You upgrade the food, you choose a fancier venue, you decide to give away prizes. All might be good ideas but only if you can afford them. Look at an appreciation event just like you would any other investment. Consider that you’ll have expenses for items like invitations, refreshments, or entertainment. Remember, your time is also part of the expense equation.
Mistake #2: Forget to RSVP
Include an RSVP request in your invitation. It helps you anticipate how many people will attend. More importantly, it identifies who isn’t coming—yet. That should be your cue to follow-up with nonresponders. Consider a different mode on the second contact. For example, if you sent an email the first time, use a personal phone call as the follow-up.
Mistake #3: Invite Only Current Customers
Don’t limit the invitation list to current customers. Your best advertisement is a satisfied customer. So extend an invitation to a few promising prospects too. During the event, they’ll get a first-hand look at what it’s like to do business with you—from the eyes of your best customers. Be careful not to overload the event with prospects, the focus is still on thanking current clients.
Mistake #4: Rely On Just Your Instincts
You may think you know what your customers like but take the time to verify it. Ask for their input. Would they prefer a weekday or weekend event? Is it better to have an open house where they can come and go or a set time for the event? Asking them demonstrates you value their opinion and want to make the event meaningful for them.
Mistake #5: Unveil Your New Product Line
Ever get one of those invitations for a free dinner that turns out to be a sales pitch? Don’t make the same mistake by turning your event into a commercial for a new offering. Your objective is to thank customers. If it doesn’t support that goal, save it for another time. You’ll have the opportunity to approach them in the future with the goodwill you’re creating with the event.
Mistake #6: Don’t Bother With Reminders
People are busy and it’s easy to forget an upcoming event. So send a reminder the day before the event. Some e-invitation websites will automatically send a reminder to everyone you invite. It’s also an opportunity to highlight something that makes the event special, like a speaker, an interesting location or a free gift.
Mistake #7: Trust Customers to Mingle
One of the fears people have at events is the social aspect. Whom will I talk with? That’s why you don’t want to leave interaction to chance. Be ready to introduce attendees to each other as you circulate throughout the room. Point out commonalities that help spark a conversation. For example, “Sam, this is Mary. She just sent her daughter off to college this fall. You’re coming up on that milestone with your son next year, right?”
Mistake #8: Consider It Done When the Last Customer Leaves
Just because the event is over doesn’t mean you’re finished. Follow-up after the event by thanking customers for attending. Some businesses include photos of the event. Don’t forget the people who weren’t able to attend. It’s your chance to say they were missed and that you appreciate their support of your business.
Customer appreciation events can pay big dividends for your small business. The trick is to avoid the common mistakes that can lessen their impact. Watch out for these slip-ups and maximize your next event.