Saying thank you is a common-sense tool in business development strategy

Never underestimate the power of a ‘thank you’. It’s easy to take a client’s patronage of your services for granted. Then, when the time comes for contract renewals or repurchase decisions, there’s a good chance that your client’s feeling of neglect plays a pivotal role.

My uncle once gave me some wonderful marriage advice; “You wooed your beautiful bride into marrying you. Now keep woo-ing her every day so she knows how much she’ll always mean to you.”

You get the picture. Whether your client is able to accept gifts or not, there’s always a way to extend meaningful gratitude to them. Check out some of my ‘thank you ideas’ below.


1. Deliver a handwritten note.

It’s tempting to just e-mail someone, thanking them for their support. But consider how many electronic mails you receive in a single day. How would you feel if a client or a service provider sent you a handwritten thank you letter? Nuff said! Use decent paper stationery to write a letter or a short note. Then have it hand-delivered or couriered directly to your client’s office. Don’t leave it to chance through the Post Office. If they can accept a gift, throw in some tickets to a show, or add a fancy voucher (not Woolies! Be creative). Need ideas for the wording? E-mail me, and I’ll be glad to help you.


2. Premeditate an impromptu invite!

Whiskey Live, tickets to sport events or concerts! Many companies arrange tickets to big events for their VIP clients. But beware of ‘big ticket fatigue;’ many corporate event coordinators are reporting a drop in the take-up rate by their clients.

Event invitations are still a great idea, but ‘planned’ impromptu invites for much more exclusive events will work even better. Think of events like Shindig in Cape Town, or French Icons in Jo’burg and Cape Town. Trust me, business development is about tailored ‘thank yous’.

3. Offer to give to their favourite charity.

When it comes to ‘giving’ our thanks to our valued clients or service providers, many have a policy that forbids or restricts the receipt of gifts or gratuities. But that doesn’t mean you can’t give something anyway. South African companies have a proud tradition of supporting charities and social organisations. And we’re each passionate about a different group of causes. So, ask your client if, as a token of your gratitude to them, you can make a donation to a charity of their choosing.


4. Pay Attention. And Support Local.

Remember my suggestion last week about sending your client news that you think would apply to them? The same goes for giving gifts. Make notes when they share something about an interest or passion. Ask them about their favourite food, drink or brand the next time you have coffee with them. Then buy a gift that shows them that you’ve paid attention. Just don’t get them something inappropriate! Also, buy local. There are many luxury product makers in SA that have exquisite niche brands that will add colour and narrative to your gift.


5. Write a glowing report.

Finally, if you would like to express your appreciation for a client or colleague, why not do it in the form of a testimonial? Platforms such as LinkedIn provide an excellent opportunity to write a review or testimonial for one of your connections. Take the time to write something creative and complimentary. Often, boosting the credentials of someone will be far more valuable in the long run than any other gift you could possibly send their way. Make the testimonial interesting and unique.