How to Turn a New Customer Into a Repeat CustomerI received this message the other day from Amazon:

As someone who has recently purchased a Panasonic Blu-ray DVD Player on, we have applied a $20.00 credit to your account, good towards any eligible Amazon Instant Video purchase, including rentals and new release titles in HD.

I was struck by two things with this message:

  • It builds goodwill because I’m receiving something free.
  • At the same time, it familiarizes me with another product that I may purchase in the future.

I wasn’t even aware you can stream videos through Amazon, but now I’m definitely going to try the service.

While a Blu-ray followed by a credit to a DVD service is a natural partnership, this idea can be applied to other wares and services as well. Say you sold someone a fancy coffeemaker — give them a coupon that awards them a free bag of coffee with their next purchase.

Granted, this won’t work for all businesses, but with a little creativity, it can work for most industries. Here are some tips for offering customers similar deals:

  1. The smartest offer is a credit toward a small purchase that goes along with a large item just purchased.
  2. Offer the deal on a item or service that the customer will need again and again — not something that fulfills a one-time or rare need. Ideally, they’ll keep coming to you for this particular item.
  3. Offer the deal only after the initial purchase is complete. Remember, you want a customer to come back, and then  create a habit of coming back. That’s better than a really happy one-time customer who just got some free tennis balls to go with their new  racquet. Instead, the offer could be free tennis balls with the next purchase — or even better, a free restringing of the tennis racquet or credit toward that service with the next purchase. That’s something any committed tennis player will need regularly.
  4. While Amazon offered their deal online, you can do it in person as well. Figure out the deal in advance, print out coupons and give them to customers buying the related items.
  5. Christmas is a perfect time to offer a deal like this because people are in large-item buying mode. In fact, you may want to make the coupon especially attractive because if it looks nice and useful, the buyer may stick it in the box to the person receiving the gift — and then you have another potential customer.
  6. While retail may seem like a better fit than a service-based business, this concept can work for service industries as well. A mechanic can offer a customer who just spent a tidy sum on their car a $15 credit toward gas or a tuneup the next time they bring their car in. This idea is not unlike the gift certificate I received at a nail salon that ensured my second visit.

If you have other creative ideas for applying a deal like this to different industries, please tell us about them in the comments!

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