Customer Experience, Customer Experience Spotlight, Marketing, Professional Articles

Customer Experience Spotlight: Christmas Tree Lot

Periodically I profile a different industry from the perspective of the customer. I’ll detail my experience and talk about how that industry could improve the customer experience. Retaining customers is a key business function, enabling organizations to grow and reach their goals. It also affect the bottom line: it costs four to 20 times as much to get a new customer as it does to retain an existing one. View all Customer Experience Spotlight posts. 

Every year for the past decade I have taken my kids to the same Christmas tree lot. How did they get my business, and how have they held onto me as a customer for so long? They have a simple, but perfect, two-pronged marketing strategy.

Customer acquisition

How do they get new customers? Simple – they know their audience, which is primarily made up of drive-bys and families. To attract that audience, they put out a giant inflatable snowman next to their lot. Not only is it visible from miles around, but it’s highly appealing to kids. Every year as we drive by, seeing that snowman reminds us that it’s time to get a tree. And we always have to get a picture with it.


Customer retention

They only see their customers once a year, and that’s a long time to lose a customer’s loyalty. That’s why their retention strategy is so simple and brilliant. When you go in to pay for your tree, they have a box of pre-printed post cards with a 10% discount coupon on the back. As you pay, they have you fill out that post card with your name and address, and they put it in another box. The following November, they mail out the post cards. It’s that simple. I never fail to bring my post card in to get my discount. This is the simplest of customer loyalty programs, and it is highly effective. It also helps that the trees are high-quality and reasonably priced.

How does this apply to your job?

I don’t work at a Christmas tree lot, and it’s likely that you don’t either. But if you’re in marketing, you are probably concerned with customer acquisition and retention. Why not do what they do, and start with the basics?

  1. Who is your audience?
  2. How are you reaching new customers?
  3. What’s your customer retention strategy?
  4. Does your product or service deliver on its promise?

Sometimes it’s the simplest, not the most complex, strategy that works the best.

(And it helps if you don’t drive into your garage with the tree still tied to the roof …)

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