This is one of those years when we have one less week between Thanksgiving and Christmas. You’re in luck though, because in this week’s blog we’re getting a head start on the best gifts to give your clients to show them you truly appreciate their business.
Obviously, you don’t want gifts to be seen as bribes to continue doing business with your company. The first step to corporate gift giving is to consider the monetary value of gifts. It’s important to not overwhelm your clients or customers with a gift that is over-the-top in regard to cost. Conversely, you don’t want the gift to be considered “cheap” and have your clients equate your gift with low-quality products or services the rest of the year.
The gift you give will depend on the size of your company, the size of your client base, and most importantly, the kind of relationship you have with each client. It’s important that your clients know who is sending the gift; even if your name is on the “from” line on the tag, the gift should speak for itself regarding its sender.
There is really only one hard and fast rule when it comes to choosing the best gift: know your recipient. If you understand your clients’ businesses and their modus operandi, choosing the perfect gift shouldn’t be a challenge.
Many companies send greeting cards as a way to connect with each client throughout the holiday season. Hand-written notes are unexpected in today’s digital communication sphere, and a personal hand-written note is even more cherished. Take the time to remark on a specific event that you enjoyed with each client: “Our monthly lunch meetings at George’s Grill are always so productive. Let’s make sure to build on that tradition in the New Year.” “So great bumping into you at the farmer’s market last week. I hope you and Teresa have a wonderful holiday with your in-laws in Boston!” Taking the time to remark on personal events in your clients’ lives will help cement your relationship and show you pay attention to the details. If you operate within the same geographic area as most of your clients, consider dropping off the holiday notes in person. If your clients have recently become paperless, there is always the e-card option. Also consider the chance to record individual video messages for each client. Not only will they appreciate the time you take to record each message, but they also get to see and hear your thanks.
Physical gifts are a great way to make the gesture last longer than a wall of holiday cards in the building entrance. However, it’s important that your gift has purpose for your client, or else it’s just another trinket taking up space in a drawer. When it comes to these kinds of gifts, consider the place and purpose of most of your meetings. For your clients that appreciate business meetings on the back nine, consider quality personalized golf balls or a club towel with your logo imprinted. If your client tends to take notes during meetings, an engraved pen with their name or company logo, or stylus for the technologically inclined, is a great option. Clients who listen to music while they work would appreciate a nice set of speakers or headphones.
Finally, food is the reason for the season for so many people. Food allows you the chance to honor more than just your direct contact, too. You can send fruit baskets or baked goods for clients to share with the office. It’s important to not send just another fruitcake, though. Instead, offer to pay for the catering at the holiday party, or surprise your clients with a random hot lunch in house. (Make sure someone is in on the secret, so it’s not an overwhelming surprise.) Bonding moments happen so often over meals, and many of you have forged business relationships or even signed contracts at the dinner table. This gift is a way to take it back to basics and show you care about keeping your clients satisfied.
The bottom line to gift giving with your clients is the same bottom line when giving gifts in general: This is an act of appreciation for the relationship that exists. While the gesture can be an opportunity to boost your brand image and awareness, this is also your chance to say “I know that this particular gift would be important to you and your team because I understand and appreciate you.”
Now that you have these tools and ideas in your gift-giving warehouse, I’d recommend you start organizing. There are only five shopping weeks left!