Out of OfficeOut of Office Blog

‘Tis the season to rekindle your community connection

John JantschJohn Jantsch

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With the holidays fast approaching many businesses are preparing for sales and events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There’s no denying that the fourth quarter is an important one in the world of business, particularly if yours is a business that counts on the sales of items given as holiday gifts.

But, in all the hustle and bustle of business, we sometimes overlook the fact that the holidays are meant to be a time when we give thanks and celebrate the important people in our lives.

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In the context of a business there’s no one more important than the customer.

One of the best ways to get ready for the holidays is to look for ways to bring your customer community together to celebrate and learn.

Below are five ways to get your customers together and add value to the relationship you already have with them.

Appreciation Gathering

This is perhaps the most traditional type of gathering. During the holidays you can show your appreciation for your customers by hosting an event or open house.

In the past I’ve had clients hire a video crew to capture testimonials and success stories during these events as well as provide an opportunity for photo prints or other fun ways to share via social networks.

There’s no need to limit this idea to a cocktail party type of event either. Why not choose an organization like Habitat for Humanity or a food kitchen and organize a volunteer outing for you staff and customer community?

Partner Lunch and Learn

Building relationships with other businesses is a great way to grow your referral base and enter into joint marketing arrangements. If you’ve developed strategic partner relationships of this type or if you know of an organization you would like to partner with at some point why not invite them to present some form of useful information in a casual lunch and learn or open house setting?

This can work as a wine tasting, business topic or some current trend. Many organizations find that an ongoing series of events really attracts interest.

Peer 2 Peer Group

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Most organizations have customers that have solved some challenge by virtue of the work they’ve done for them. These leading customers can often be tapped as spokespeople of a sort for the issue or challenge they solved.

For example, a software company that sells productivity software for medical offices could host a panel discussion on productivity and invite several success story customers and several prospects to meet to talk about how they are dealing with specific challenges. There’s no selling in this event, but there’s tremendous value exchanged and in most cases both customers and prospects feel good about participating.

Referral Champion Event

Fortunately, most businesses that are doing a few things right receive referrals from happy customers. It’s important to really celebrate these referral sources and treat them as the true champions in your customer community. Think in terms of creating something akin to a special membership program that rewards your referral champions in the form of access, add-ons, special pricing, appreciation, gifts and special events.

A remodeling contractor I worked with years ago would take his referral champions to a Christmas tree farm to celebrate with their families and pick out a tree as part of his gift to his referral champions.

Community Space

Another great way to celebrate with your community is to make your facility available to customers and the community in general for their events, meetings and non-profit gatherings.

If you have a suitable space you can show appreciation by hosting Cub Scout meetings, PTA events, business networking, MeetUps, workshops and other types of events that keep your business top of mind with your customers and prospects.

The holidays are of course a great time to do more business and attract new customers, but it’s also the best time to show how much you appreciate the community that’s built your business to this point.

Thanks for reading!

John

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network. Find out more at ducttapemarketing.com

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and best selling author Duct Tape Marketing, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine. His blog was chosen as a Forbes favorite for marketing and small business and his podcast, a top ten marketing show on iTunes was called a “must listen” by Fast Company magazine.

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