In our previous post, we discussed the advantages of turning your customers into “raving fans” of your business through a customer referral program. For many small businesses, and especially small retailers, the holiday shopping season is more crucial to the continuing growth and even viability of your business than ever before, and it’s becoming difficult and sometimes even impossible to compete on price alone.

Even The Large Retailers Aren’t Invulnerable To Criticism

The largest retailers, including Walmart, Amazon, and Target, dominate the retail space both online and off, and it’s almost impossible for small retailers to compete on price and often selection as well. However, these large retail behemoths aren’t perfect or completely invulnerable. As shoppers, we can probably easily recount a time when we were unhappy with the impersonal customer service, shipping errors, mainstream product selection, and large crowds at a “big box” store. Yet a small retailer, through hard work, research, and perseverance, can attract customers by filling these niches in the retail shopping experience.

Customer Referral Programs

It is possible for small retailers to siphon away customers from the large retailers when it comes to customer service, as large retailers are far too big to address every customer complaint. Yet when it comes to discounts and rewards, such as customer referral programs, the large retailers typically always come out ahead. Large retailers almost never make mistakes or errors with discounts and rewards, as they have teams of experts on staff or on contract who can calculate the exact amount to offer. Yet smaller retailers do not have access to the same resources and must often calculate discounts and rewards through trial and error. A customer referral program could be a significant factor in boosting your business during the holidays, but only if the reward for the referrer is lucrative enough to attract interest, but without breaking the bank.

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try And Try Again

Without a team of expert consultants, small business owners often have to find other means to determine the effectiveness of an incentive of discount. One method of determining what reward or incentive to offer is through simple trial and error. Start by offering what you believe to be three rewards or incentives that are reasonable to your bottom line and attractive enough to your customers to compel them to seek our referrals among their friends, family, and colleagues. Based on customer feedback, you can then determine at a later date whether or not to amend your program to remove the one or two less popular options. Also, ask your most loyal customers if they are happy with the program, and if they have any ideas for new incentives and rewards that you can consider offering as well.

Add A Personal Touch

Small retailers often forget that a huge advantage they have in the marketplace is the personal touch. A small retailer can build personal relationships with customers that are often impossible for larger retailers. It’s not that the employees of larger retailers don’t care about their customers, but the sheer volume of customers in a big box store makes establishing personal relationships difficult. One way to establish a personal relationship with a customer is to offer an exclusive product or service as a reward for a customer referral. This product or service doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant, but it is important to add a personal touch. For instance, consider offering a personalized signature product, or a service with a more exclusive or personal touch to it than your standard service. Even just a small personalization or bit of special attention can create a dedicated and loyal customer for life!

Add A Handwritten Touch

If it is impossible for you to personalize a product or service, think of ways you can personalize your reward in other ways. When sending out a gift, coupon, or gift card, consider including a handwritten note thanking the customer for their business. It may take an hour or two out of your day to write these notes, but they can make an incredibly powerful and positive impression on a customer.