A friend of mine works for a professional hockey team in their sales department.  We were discussing customer relationships and the difference between types of customers.  He was talking about how season ticket holders have an emotional commitment to the team, while group customers require a unique one-time experience to effectively lock them in as long-term repeat customers.  His philosophy is true in all forms of sales; there will always (hopefully) be YOUR customers that do business with you because of an emotional investment in your company and your products, while some other great customers might turn to you in search of something different than the alternative.  Here are threeways that you can create a unique experience and develop long-term customer relationships.

Give Back

If you don’t have some kind of rewards program already in place, then you NEED to start one now.  Don’t just cut a deal like “buy $100 and get $5 off…” this is overused and tired.  Perhaps placing your brand on some unique, useful, and valuable things is a better route; the more the customer buys the more rewards they get on top of their order.  Build your brand around giving – people will notice.

Invite Them In

New Belgium is the 3rd largest microbrewery in the United States.  They offer FREE tours of their brewery with samples of their beer five days per week; these tours are full 3 weeks in advance.  They invite about 150 people into their building most days to touch, feel, smell, learn, and enjoy how their product is made.  Inviting people behind the curtain provides them with an experience; providing them with great content about your product and company history provides them with the opportunity to share that with others.

Be Grateful

It seems like common sense to “be grateful,” but you could probably think of a time when places of business just didn’t care.  I cheated on my diet the other day and got Taco Bell (don’t judge…); in my attempts to not totally kill my efforts I kept it under $4, and the attendants seemed like my tiny order was legitimately a burden.  Imagine if you could receive sincere gratitude from the people that you give money to in exchange for products and services.  Let’s face it, we ALL have competition in our markets, so outdo everyone else with genuine respect and gratitude for every person that comes through your door.

Take your business to a new level!  Start giving back, inviting your customers behind the veil, and being more grateful and your business will do better – it’s that easy.