Hands Holding Thank YouThe U.S. is home to almost 28 million small businesses, according to the Small Business Administration. As a small business owner yourself, you probably didn’t need to read that statistic to know that competition abounds. To help retain customers, make a personal connection with them this holiday season.

Choose Your Gift. There’s a reason millions of people post photos of themselves online and go into great detail describing what’s for breakfast via social media: People want to be acknowledged. No matter what you choose to give out this holiday, it simply tells your customers that you’re thinking about them during this season of goodwill. Send a greeting card, desk calendar, fancy pen, small address book, notepad or anything else that expresses your gratitude for their business.

Opt for an Alternative. Purchase small, inexpensive stockings and slip a gift card redeemable for your company products and services. Not only will a gift card show your customers that you appreciate them, but they may also bring in additional profits since customers often make purchases beyond the amount on the gift card.

Make it Personal. If possible, deliver the token of your appreciation in person. That’s easy enough if customers come into your establishment or you make trips to them to do business, but for those really special customers, make a special trip. Yes, it will take time, but it’s likely you’ll be the only business owner going to so much trouble. If this isn’t feasible for your type of business, simply mail out your holiday tokens.

Simultaneously Send an Email. Sending a relevant holiday email at the same time you deliver/mail your holiday gift is a great one-two punch. Send a holiday cookie recipe, decorating tip or roundup of special events taking place around town. Include a picture or two if you can—people are naturally drawn to images.

Good for Company Morale. Few things raise spirits more than handing someone a gift. Each time one of your employees gets to hand a gift to a customer, both parties have the opportunity to feel good about the experience. Plus, your employees can have pride in knowing they work for the kind of business that reaches out to their customers.

Help Customers Remember Your Name. If you own one of three coffee shops in a four block radius, it’s important to do whatever you can to keep your business name in the forefront. No matter what you give as a gift, make it easy for people to remember you by emblazoning your company name somewhere on the product.

Branch Out. If you have extras to spare, leave gifts at your local chamber of commerce to be given out to people there. The more people you make contact with, the more potential customers you will impress.

We also want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have been following us on www.thebrandauthority.net and www.barefootwinefounders.com. Your support is what keeps us writing! Thank You!