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How to use surprise and delight for the holidays

in Customer Retention

Using surprise and delight marketing strategies can be a great way to keep customers on their toes, but these tactics don't have to be used all on their own. In fact, it can be an excellent idea for businesses to implement elements of surprise and delight in conjunction with various holidays throughout the year. While consumers might be expecting companies to be planning some celebratory activities or offers, businesses can ensure they stand out in these individuals' minds by going above and beyond to craft truly memorable experiences.

With these ideas in mind as starting points, any business can be well on its way to having a more successful holiday season through the power of surprise and delight.

Create a celebration
Offering tailored loyalty rewards is an essential element of any holiday promotion, but companies should be sure they are providing ones that are truly valuable. An excellent way to do this is by infusing the holiday spirit into many different elements of a business' daily operations. For example, a bank could offer complementary hot cocoa during the December holidays and warm apple cider around Thanksgiving, supplying shoppers with a beverage that isn't just delicious, but keeps them toasty in the colder weather.

For gift-giving holidays, surprise and delight customers by offering a free gift wrapping service. Shoppers tend to be more anxious around the winter celebration season when they need to contend with crowds to make purchases and may be spending a significant amount of money on others, so anything that relieves some of their stress, such as eliminating concerns about when they'll get around to wrapping, will be welcome. 

Let them know they are appreciated
Use the holiday to let your customers know how much you appreciate them.  Sending simple holiday greeting cards and emails is a perfect way to celebrate the season and celebrate the relationship you have with your customers. One way to make these communications extra special is to help them save money during the holidays. You can embed discounts to retailers in greeting cards or emails to help them stretch their shopping dollars farther. Or, you could provide them savings at local restaurants via email so they don't have to cook during the hustle and bustle of the stressful season.

Make it a game
Everyone loves to play games, so it can be an effective idea to bring a gaming element into one's surprise and delight-based holiday promotions. Social Media Today cited Starbucks' winter 2011 campaign in which they released an app that allowed customers to use their smartphones to use their coffee cups in a modern twist on a scavenger hunt. By using their devices to look at their beverages, the source explained that individuals could find and interact with five different quirky characters. People who were able to encounter all of them would then qualify to win a prize. Additionally, Starbucks also used social sharing tools to help the app's users send gifts to friend and family, which the news provider noted is an excellent way to delight and engage customers while reinforcing the brand.

Go off the beaten path
Another great way for companies to keep their customers engaged is to host promotions that center around unexpected holidays. It's important to have something special happening around the winter holidays and Thanksgiving, for example, but businesses can also tie in lesser-known days of celebration to catch consumers off guard and make them feel special. For instance, The Cheesecake Factory draws in diners every year by celebrating National Cheesecake Day with half-price slices of their desserts. Beyond that, hotels could offer special travel-related discounts in time for Summer Solstice or December's Mountain Day, while May's Jazz Day could be an excellent opportunity for a company to team up with local music venues to offer deals or invite customers to join them for a concert in their own stores.

For any holiday, people want to feel a sense of magic. Times of celebration often make consumers think back to their childhoods and the wonder they felt when experiencing new things, getting together with family and friends, and receiving memorable gifts. Businesses that recreate those strong emotions through surprise and delight strategies are sure to earn loyal fans, boosting customer retention and bottom lines in the process.