After a successful fundraising season wraps up in December, it can be tempting to put your feet up and wait for September to roll around before giving wreaths another thought. Don’t fall victim to this! It doesn’t take much to engage your customers—and potential customers—during the off season.
Put these simple steps into action to increase your customer base from season to season—you’ll soon see the results are worth the effort.
If you want to grow your customer base every year, retaining customers is as important as reaching out to new ones. Research shows that for every 100 new donors a fundraiser recruits, 102 existing donors are lost. In short, it’s not enough to merely reach out to new people. You also need to keep your existing customer base interested.
First, start by hanging on to all your sales spreadsheets and customer notes. Instead of sending these documents to the shredder, file them away so you can start to see customer trends through the years. Knowing a customer’s order history makes it easier to upsell the following year. If a customer has only purchased wreaths in the past, make a note to remind them of our garlands or centerpieces next year. Upselling is much easier when you have clear notes about each customer’s order history.
And don’t just keep track of completed sales—hold on to contact information from interested parties who didn’t end up buying a wreath. If they considered it at one stage, it’s worth keeping them in the loop for next season.
Now that you’ve taken the time to jot down information from previous years, organize it. Put together a complete email list with a valid email address for all customers. This makes next year’s communication strategy that much easier to implement.
Simply open up a new email draft, copy all emails into the ‘BCC’ field and send your customers a handful of reminder emails throughout the year. Or, for professional-looking newsletters with your logo and colors, use a free email marketing program like MailChimp, one of our favorite tools for promoting your fundraiser online . Either way, a list of email addresses gives you the opportunity to keep customers in the loop throughout the year.
A phone tree is another effective tool for contacting customers quickly. You can create one in three simple steps:
1. Create a spreadsheet with all customer phone numbers.
2. Break that list into groups of eight to 10.
3. Identify the top sellers in your group, then assign each a group of customers.
Anytime you need to get in contact with your customers, perhaps to let them know you’re now taking orders or to arrange item pick-ups, all you need to do is contact your key sellers and ask them to pass the message on to everyone in their assigned customer group. Instead of you calling 100 customers yourself, you only need to call your top sellers and they’ll do the rest.
Your customers want to know what you’ve been able to do with wreath fundraising. They will become more engaged and invested in your cause when you tell them of your successes. The more connected they feel to your story, the more likely you’ll retain them as customers in the future.
When the fundraising season wraps up, tally up the amount of money you earned, or the number of items delivered to those in need, and include that total in a thank you card for customers. If you beat your sales target from the previous year, include the percentage increase so that they can share in your feeling of accomplishment.
Was your group able to take a trip or buy new supplies? Perhaps you followed the ‘wreath-giving’ model and encouraged customers to buy wreaths for folks in need. However your group chose to spend the funds raised, let your customers know where their support went
Consider hosting an annual event to kick-off the fundraising season. An event will give your customers something to look forward to throughout the year. It will also ensure they mark their calendars and don’t forget about supporting the wreath fundrasier each year.
✓ Rent out a community hall or keep things simple with a bonfire in your backyard.
✓ Send invitations to existing customers via email. Encourage your group members to invite their friend, relative and neighbors.
✓ Let people know they’ll have the opportunity to get their holiday gift shopping all figured out months ahead of most, all while supporting your group’s fundraising goals.
At the event, serve light refreshments and hold a brief program that allows attendees to hear a bit more about your goals and what they can do to support you. Keep the event simple and build upon it year after year. Although the first year of any event can be hard work, once you’ve put it on a few times, it’ll soon be running like a well-oiled machine.
In your efforts to retain existing customers, don’t forget to reach out to new people both in the off-season and once your fundraiser has kicked-off.
This may seem like a no-brainer but, if you offer incentives to your sellers, it’s easy to end up chasing the same targets year after year. Your sales staff are used to being able to get a prize if they reach a certain level, and it can seem unfair to adjust those levels. However, as sellers gain experience and build up a strong customer base, selling will become easier for them and they’ll relish a challenge.
Instead of sticking with the same goals, push your sellers to go the extra mile—instead of selling 50 wreaths to get a prize, challenge them to sell 60, or even 55. If every member of your sales team sells just five more wreaths, you’ll see a big impact on your overall sales total.
One major fundraising tactic is to inspire current customers to pass your name along to others. Call it a refer-a-friend program or word-of-mouth marketing—either way, it’s worth setting up. In fact, research shows that referred customers are 18 percent more likely to stay with a company than someone who wasn’t referred. To do this, consider giving your customers a once-off discount if they recommend a friend and that friend ends up buying on of our evergreens.
Boost referrals further by offering discounts to customers who send people your way. It’s simple—let’s say Kathy tells her friend Sally about the wreaths. Sally orders a wreath during the 2015 selling season and quotes Kathy as the person who tipped her off. Come next year, Kathy gets a small discount on her 2016 order. This tactic encourages Kathy to keep recommending friends and it may even inspire her to order more products during her discounted order year.
It’s a basic principle of fundraising—market your cause. Chances are, your friends and family already know you’re selling fresh evergreens but members of your community may not. Create flyers highlighting your group’s mission and the reason you’re fundraising. Post them on community bulletin boards around town and ask sellers to each be responsible for handing some out to people they know.
Network with local businesses throughout the year. Join your local chamber of commerce, attend town events and get talking to local business leaders to let them know who you are. Don’t push your agenda right away—let them get to know you and, after you’ve built a relationship, try to demonstrate what you do for the community. This will make it easy to approach those businesses for sales in the fall.
The earlier you start planning, the more time you’ll have to sell. Start by setting incentives in August, and then hold weekly group meetings to keep your members motivated. Create a timeline for your fundraiser highlighting weekly goals in the lead-up to the final order deadline.