Editor's Note: As part of Marketing Month, we're revisiting some of our best, and most importantly timeless, articles of marketing advice.

One of my recent postings described how HDR Remodeling made clients feel special by inviting them to dinner at the home of the owners of the company. I received some emails commenting on the column.

Here is one from Mark Bisig, owner of Home Sweet Home Productions, located in Maplewood, Mo.

“Paul, while it is not dinner, I do have a bit of a twist on the getting together with clients," Bisig wrote. "Every year for the past 20 years I make this year’s clients--and a good many of my past clients--an apple pie. Homemade, all from scratch.”

What a nice, simple thing to do. Certainly is a good fit, given the name of Mark’s company! Baking the pies doesn’t cost much, it just takes time and care. I have to think that Mark must like to bake, too, which makes it fun for him to do this.

“Then I have a basic open house," Bisig continues, "a drop-in, visit a few minutes or however long you want, grab a pie and you can leave anytime you want.”

The open house brings in a group of past clients who think the company is special and like being a part the community Mark has created.

“I find that most years I am making around 40 pies. Quite often I hear my clients asking each other ‘What did Mark do for you?’ ‘A kitchen.’ ‘Yes, he did ours a few years back, this year it was the bathroom.’ So they help promote what I do, how the job went, give others an idea that we do more than what we did for them.”

The best marketing possible is what your raving fans tell others. To have a group of them telling one another how good our company is powerful.

“It is a fun day to have as well as just something nice to do for customers who really have become friends," Bisig adds. "I am one of those who believe you can be friends with your customers--sometimes tricky, but it can be done.”

I agree that being friends with clients is possible, and that doing so will get your company more work. I didn’t always think that. Once we started I found it very satisfying.

“It has become a tradition that was started when I noticed that I myself did not really remember the Christmas card or even the thank you card that I got from my suppliers as much as being invited to their luncheon or being given a gift card. We went with apple pie because we figured just about anyone could make a batch of chocolate chip cookies. We worked for some Jewish people, so getting them a holiday ham was out of the question as well as the budget. And we had and still have a fair amount of clients that are non-drinkers so a bottle of wine was not in order. But over the years I do not know how many have told me that they are too intimidated to make a pie.”

An experience trumps a mailed card or gift. Something that you made being served to your past clients in your office is wonderful. You are giving these good people what you took the time to bake, your attention, and a sense of being part of a community of great people just like them.

Well done, Mark! What better way to celebrate your clients is there?

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