It’s that time again—when we thank our customers for their business this past year and encourage them to stick with us throughout the next.

But how can we do this in a more personal, human way than automated thank you emails? Nine entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council share their simple but effective ways to show appreciation for their best customers.

1. Meaningful gifts

Kelly AzevedoWhen creating a holiday or year-end gift for many customers, you do what’s most efficient. But for your best clients, a meaningful gift is so much more impactful. It could be as simple as a french press for the coffee lover, a custom journal for the writer, or a skydiving trip for the adventurer. A hand-written card is also important to include when thanking these customers.

– Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

2. Personal, handwritten letters

Brian HonigmanCommunication has gone through so many evolutions in the past century, but there is still something enduring and memorable about receiving a handwritten letter. It signals a certain sense of care that is impossible to convey digitally. It is also exceedingly rare. I plan on investing in some quality stationary, whipping out my best pen, and showing my customers how much I appreciate them.

– Brian Honigman,

3. Short thank you videos

Jake KloberdanzWe are creating a short video and sending it out to our top 10 percent of customers with a personal thanks from our management team.

– Jake Kloberdanz, ONEHOPE Inc.

4. A sneak peek of a new feature

doreen-blochOne great way to thank customers for their business in the past year is by giving them an exclusive sneak peek of what’s to come next year. If you have a new feature you’ll be rolling out, provide it to your existing clients first in a beta roll-out. Not only will a value-add feature or service be beneficial for your clients, it will also make them feel valued if you let them get it first.

– Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.

5. Cards and cookies

Lane CampbellA simple card can go a long way. And depending on how much they purchased, some customers will receive cookies with their card as well.

– Lane Campbell, Syntress SCDT

6. Increased product development

Ioannis VerdelisWe plan to issue very frequent and very substantial updates that existing customers get for free. It turns out people love to watch a product evolve and feel like part of the early supporter group.

Ioannis Verdelis, Fleksy

7. Incentive programs

Sean MarszalekWe have had great success using incentive programs as an avenue of thanking our loyal customers. For example, our customers enjoy complimentary samples of our latest products, and it’s our way of thanking them for their continued business. We have found the greatest success with our incentive programs through an effective social media campaign.

– Sean Marszalek, SDC Nutrition, Inc.

8. Thank you calls from the CEO

Joshua LeeIt’s rare for customers to get a call from the CEO. That’s why I call them directly. I talk to them about where their business has been, where it’s going, and thank them for working with us. Founder and former Build-A-Bear CEO Maxine Clark would personally respond to each customer email that came to her. Obviously, Build-A-Bear has had pretty good growth and success.

– Joshua Lee, StandOut Authority

9. An in-person thank you

Alex FriedmanAs a service provider, it’s always about face time with the client. While cards, gifts, and trinkets are fun ways to express gratitude, nothing is more meaningful than saying it in person. Opt for a dinner or a cocktail after work instead of choosing something more impersonal and material. I find that it’s always more meaningful and much more appreciated.

– Alex Friedman, Ruckus 

How do you show your loyal customers that you appreciate their business? Do you use any of the suggestions above, or do you have a tip of your own? Share it by reaching out to us @Bplans on Twitter!

AvatarScott Gerber

Scott Gerber is the founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs.