Business Owner’s Guide To Holiday Gift Giving
Many of us who run businesses, especially small businesses, send gifts to our key clients each year during the holiday season. The reason we all do this is because it is expected of us, but the real reason behind it is to improve relationships and even use this yearly event as a marketing tool.
So how do you stand out from the crowd and make your gift translate into the best return?
Make It Last
If you ask most people what they remember about a gift, few if any would say they recalled a specific chocolate gift, or a specific greeting card. This is because both of those gifts are only used for a short amount of time. The chocolate gets eaten, the card gets read. If you want to appear in your client’s heart and mind, you need a gift that will last.
An example of this long-term use thinking is offering your client a subscription for a few months or a year. To what? Well, where do we start…NetFlix, A golf club, a bowling alley, a web service, or even a business software license. These are just a few of the ideas that are out there. See the difference between these and a gift certificate? A gift certificate usually gets used up in one visit. That’s it. A subscription lingers for longer and reminds your client “[insert name] cares about me, that was really a nice gesture.” They can be the same total cost, but the effect is very different.
Make It Personal
There are two basic categories you should fulfill with your gift to your client:
Help him spend his time at work wiser
Help him relax better in his leisure time
Either one you choose, however, requires you to know something personal about that client. From the way they prefer to work, to what they do after work, you can get clues. Do they always ask you if you saw the latest movie? NetFlix would be a good gift potentially. Do they always complain about their slow computer or software? A computer part or better software might be right for a gift.
The goal is to improve your client’s life. If your greeting card makes that known, and your gift fulfills a need (which your client may not have even been aware of), it shows you care. In fact, it shows you care enough to take the necessary time to analyze their current life situation, be it work or personal and see how you can improve it. These are the gifts that count and make emotional impact.
Make It Appropriate
Alcohol and cigars have often been sent as gifts, especially business gifts. This may or may not be appropriate, depending on the company and the individual you are sending it to. If you are a children’s book company, for instance, it would not be advisable. All Public Relations efforts (like it or not, that’s what gift giving is) should adhere to the theme of your company. Or, the company where your client works at may frown upon gift giving, especially of the alcoholic variety. Or, the person you are sending it to is a recovering addict. Obviously, these are all catastrophes for your brand. Make sure you look into each situation to sufficiently assess whether your planned gift will be received well.
Make It Handwritten
I specifically placed this item in here because the odds are most of the readers love computers and the internet, and shun pens as often as the offline world will allow them to. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, touches the heart like getting a handwritten note along with a gift. An easy proof is we all know a friend who keeps all the notes and gift cards he ever received. Also, just about everyone opens the card before the actual present. This is an unconscious way of them saying “Hey! It’s the thought and the personal time the giver took that counts more than the actual gift”.
Another bonus of sending these gifts is the IRS permits you to deduct up to $25 per business gift as an expense.
Gone are the days when we send 100 pens with our brand on it to clients…those simply get tossed, and it is clear that there is no thought that goes into the creation of it. The marketplace demands personalized gifts, not carbon copies of what each other client will get. This is the true way to build up your brand, and strengthen those relationships.