Small Ways To Build Your Brand: Lagniappe

If you’re starting a business from scratch there are a lot of small ways to build your brand that won’t break your budget. Lagniappe is one practice that I use to help build customer loyalty.

What is lagniappe?  First, it’s pronounced lan-yap. Second, basically think of it as a small gift that you give with a purchase as a  compliment or just for good measure.  It’s a little something special.  How did I get the idea for enclosing a bit of lagniappe with my products?  I first learned about the term while living in New Orleans. But I rediscovered it by ordering things from Japan.  There are lots of small businesses in Japan and they all sweat the small stuff.  Things I’ve ordered from Japan came with fun little extras that brought a smile to my face.

Examples of lagniappe from Japanese purchases.

I like these sorts of little extras because it makes me feel like a person I don’t know  took the time to think of me.  Lots of times these little origami cranes or little gifts of tea or candy come with a hand written note explaining the symbolism of the gift.  I’m sure there are people in Japan with lousy handwriting, but every note I’ve gotten showcases impeccable penmanship that puts my chicken scratch to shame.

It’s these little touches that keep me ordering from the same sellers again and again – well, that and great products and customer service.  I feel a sense of loyalty to sellers who go that extra mile and prefer them over trying someone new for the same item.

That feeling of loyalty is why I have emulated this practice for my own sales.   Since JOY COMPLEX is a Pittsburgh based business I started giving out little pieces of Pittsburgh memorabilia. One fun extra I’ve used are little Heinz Ketchup and Pickle pins that I got in bulk from the Heinz History Center.

I also turned some of my own photos into postcards that I got printed on Zazzle. One unexpected results was that I noticed people buying the cards for themselves as well!   Zazzle is a great place to get things made because they are ALWAYS having sales. When they have a 70% off coupon I bulk up but if I miss the sale, I’ll just wait because I know another one is right around the corner. There’s also the possibility of additional sales if customers like the cards themselves.

Lately I’ve been enclosing cute sized Almond Joys because it’s always nice to get something sweet in the mail. The name plays nicely with JOY COMPLEX and they are an inexpensive way to say thank you.  (Fun fact: did you know that the company behind Almond Joy  was founded in 1919 by Armenian immigrant Peter Paul Halajian in New Haven, Connecticut? Learn more here.)  But, I’m thinking of going back to the cards, maybe with some limited editions.

As you can see there are many ways to add a little something special for your customers to further brighten their experience and build loyalty without breaking the bank.  I’d love to hear some of your ideas in the comments below!

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