Should You Invite Your Customers to Punch You in the Gut?

As I was reading my Sunday Trib last weekend, I came across a story in the business section about customer loyalty programs. Here is the article.

A new comic book shop in Andersonville (north side of Chicago) came up with an outstanding way to encourage people to shop there frequently. After 50 purchases, the customer gets to punch the owner in the stomach. BRILLIANT! Or is it?

It got me thinking about whether retail strategies have any place in our commercial world. You may remember several months ago I wrote a blog post about whether the Groupon model had any place in our business. It received a mixed response—some thought it would just dilute our profits and probably not generate any real new customers, while some said anything was worth a try. I wonder if any of you have tried something like that? Anyone care to share?

So what ABOUT customer loyalty programs? Do they work in our business? And what would they look like? I usually end up on the side of, “You should try ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING to get new customers.”

Here are some ideas you could try:

• Frequent/repeat buyer rewards—for every 10 orders a customer gets something free or discounted.

• Drawings – every order enters you in a drawing to win something (an iPad?).

• Discounts/rebates—spend $XXX,XXX and get XX% off or $$ back.


• GET WACKY— You could invite your most frequent customer to be “Pressman for a Day,” or dedicate a day in your shop to celebrating your most frequent customers with an event.

As I always say, Creativity is king! And I also say, What have you got to lose?

What have you tried? What has worked? What hasn’t? I’d love to hear some success or failure stories from all three of my loyal readers out there!

Now working as a consultant, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include client recovery, retention and acquisition, and marketing communications projects.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league.

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  • Greg

    I did a loyalty program where I would buy lunch for a customers entire office ( most were small offices, 5-6 people) if they hit a dollar amount in sales and I would have lunch with them. Everything was working fine until one time as we were sitting around having lunch, one office worker said " we’ll I guess our printing prices are going up next month" hahaha – talk about a punch in the stomach. PS: they’re still a customer.

  • kansasquaker

    First of all, I went to a seminar you and Bill did in Chicago – you two are excellent together. Count me as loyal reader number four!

    On topic tho, we’re apparently not that creative. About all we’ve tried is the rebate program. It seems to work reasonably well with small customers, where the owner is more or less directly involved. If you get much bigger it looses impact. Actually, it reminds me of that USPS commercial – "it ain’t my money . . . I seriously do not care"