If you own a small business, nothing should be more important to you than keeping your customers happy. The people who buy from you regularly are the most important commodity you have, and without them you'd very quickly start to feel the pinch! We believe that the best way to keep your customers on board is to make sure you keep them happy. After all, happy customers will return again and again.

Delighting your customers doesn't always have to be about offering freebies or discounts (although these can definitely help!). Below, we've put together 12 suggestions for putting a smile on your customers' faces. They range from simple ideas to complicated plans, but they all have one thing in common: they're about going that extra mile to show your customers how much you value them.

One: Give them a sample of a new product

There's no use in denying it: we all love getting something for nothing! If you're launching a new product, why not figure out a way to let your valued customers try it for free? Invite them to try your new cookies/perfume/yoga class before anyone else has a chance to, and they'll love you for it!

Two: Send them a postcard

Everybody likes receiving mail, so why not send out cheerful postcards to your customer list? Something with an attractive design and a meaningful quote will make sure your business is remembered, but won't look like an advert.

Three: Make your newsletters personal

The reason big business' newsletters are often more successful than the ones small businesses send out is because they're personalized. Big businesses collect data to enable them to target specific news and products at the customers they're most appropriate to. Replicate this by collecting a few snippets of information about the customers on your mailing list (such as age bracket, gender, general interests) and putting together different newsletters for each target group.

Four: Send them a birthday present

What could be better than a small business we care about remembering our birthday? A little token gift and a bright, branded card will make your customers feel really special. The token gift could be anything from a cupcake to a discount code.

Five: Chat to them on social media

Customer service and social media strategy isn't just about managing bad reviews it's also about celebrating the good ones! If you spot your customers posting about you on Twitter or Facebook, why not join in the conversation? They'll love to know that their comments are appreciated.

Six: Learn their names

Learning the names of your regular customers, and greeting them with it when they come in, is a great way to make them feel valued. Learning names comes easier to some people than others, but make it your priority and you'll see a real difference in how your customers react to you.

Seven: Hold an after hours event

Nothing makes us feel more like a 'VIP' than a personal invitation to an exclusive event. Why not plan an event and invite along a group of customers you want to charm? Whether it's an after hours food or drink tasting, the unveiling of a new product/service, or a free workshop, this is a great way to show your customers a really great time.

Eight: Send a one off email

Over time, you'll get to know the general likes and dislikes of your regular customers. If you launch a new product or service you think they'll love –- drop them a one-on-one message to let them know! They'll really appreciate the thought.

Nine: Give them something great to eat

Whatever business you're in, all customers enjoy something tasty to eat! Whether you make it your mission to provide freshly baked goods at every meeting, or whether you keep a big bowl of candy by the till -– you may find that the way to your customers' hearts is through their stomachs!

Ten: Send a handwritten note with all deliveries

Receiving a package in the mail is always exciting – but it's much more so if there's a personal note tucked in to the box. Pop a handwritten note in with your deliveries to let your customers know how much you hope they enjoy their purchase. They'll love you for it!

Eleven: Introduce a loyalty card

A loyalty card system doesn't need to be high-tech: it can be as simple as a piece of card, a stamp and an ink pad. But coupled with an incentive such as a free drink/voucher/free class, they give your customers even more reason to keep coming back.

Twelve: Share your expertise

Offer your expertise and advice to your customers whenever possible -– either by giving them an extra five minutes of your time at the time of sale, by sending out an information pack with deliveries, or by following up with a courtesy phone call a few days later. This will help your customers to see the service benefits of shopping with small businesses!

All 12 of these suggestions are great ways to let your customers know just how much you value them. However you chose to show your appreciation to your customers, put in the effort to delight them and you'll build a loyal fan base that'll bring their business to you again and again.