A forgotten marketing technique that costs nothing but really works

The other day in my mail was a Gold Card from Eddie Bauer, the company from which I buy nearly all of my non-dress-up clothing. I was thrilled, which is exactly what the clothes company wants.

Eddie Bauer Friends logoFirst, I can rub it in the face of one of my sisters-in-law, who also enjoys Eddie Bauer and once accompanied me to the Eddie Bauer Outlet in Smithfield, N.C., the day after Christmas, in the pouring rain. Second, I had no idea there was a Gold Card component of the Eddie Bauer Friends program. For me, it is the equivalent of George Clooney’s character in “Up in the Air” earning his special airplane privileges card.

But really, I appreciate that Eddie Bauer recognized me as an important customer, someone special, someone who spent $750 in a calendar year (yikes!). In return, I will tell anyone who asks about an Eddie Bauer item I wear and lots of people who don’t that I am a member of an exclusive club. And in each discussion, I will be promoting Eddie Bauer.

The company couldn’t buy the kind of advertisements and testimonials I will offer about great customer service, a 100% guarantee on all items, their clearance sales, the outlets, and on and on. (See, I do deserve the Gold Card.)

But also, they have encouraged me to spend more money with them. I want to show them how special I am and the only way to do that is to use the Gold Card. I also want to save more money, not thinking, except now, that to earn the 6% rebate, I have to spend money. Throwing 6% of the cost of the item to me as a kickback still leaves the company with 94% of the cost. That’s a good return on investment. Among the best I can think of.

The Gold Card program recognizes that people who patronize a business want to feel valued by the company.

8 Easy Ways to Show Customers Their Value

  1. Smiling and being polite
  2. Handling a customer in the store ahead of a ringing phone
  3. Thanking them for coming in
  4. Learning return visitors’ names
  5. Correcting errors in a fair or customer-friendly way
  6. Volunteering when your price is higher than a competitor’s
  7. Telling a customer where they can find something you don’t carry or have run out of
  8. Asking a frequent customer’s advice on the goods or services provided

Treating a small business’ customers like gold is one of the easiest and best means of marketing. It always pays off — for the small business and the customer.

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