The holiday season is a time to hold friends and family dear, to tell them how much you love them and how lucky you feel to have them in your life. It is a time to celebrate the past twelve months, and share your hopes for the bright New Year ahead. This is the season of gratitude as much as it is the season of giving.
This is also traditionally the time to say “thank you” to your customers.
Before I had my own business, I worked for companies that routinely gave generic corporate gifts. Each year, some unlucky intern or admin would be drafted to make the rounds through the office, collecting the names and addresses of clients from various account teams. After sorting the list by “appropriate gift value,” a massive bulk order would be placed with one of the same old-same old corporate gift companies … Harry & David or some similar outfit. (You know the kind of thing.) Nothing against Harry & David, but I always found the mass production approach a bit depressing. Where was the imagination, the personal touches, the element of delight?
How can a generic gift accurately express your gratitude for your customers’ patronage? (Hint: It can’t.)
My first few years as a freelancer, I wasn’t able to send actual gifts, but I sent handwritten and heartfelt cards to each of my clients, thanking them for their business and for being great human beings. (I only work with great human beings.) When I finally found myself in a position to send gifts, I felt like one of Santa’s elves. Even though this is unquestionably one of the busiest times of the year, I really enjoyed creating special packages for each client.
Some of my packages did include yummy treats from Harry & David, but those holiday snacks were bundled along with other treasures like ornaments, funky notebooks, and beeswax candles. I filled each gift box with a unique collection of gifts that I hoped would inspire smiles during the holidays and beyond.
With this year’s holidays just around the corner, I’m once again preparing for my role as Santa’s Helper and would like to share some thoughts and suggestions that might provide a spark of inspiration for your business gift giving:
- Give gifts that have nothing to do with your business. Just because you’re a baker doesn’t mean you have to give cookies. The gifts you give should be about the people receiving them, not about you. You don’t give your family gifts that reflect who you are (at least, I hope you don’t); you give them gifts that reflect their interests and style. Do the same for your customers.
- Give a variety of gifts. It’s absolutely okay to give multiple people the same gift if it’s a good fit; BUT if you’re inspired to give different things to different people, that’s great, too. People appreciate unique presents.
- Consider virtual gifts. I love putting together packages and traipsing down to the post office. (I know, I know – I’m a little weird that way.) However, virtual gifts can be really fun, too. A year of PandoraONE makes a great gift. (I actually gave that to my Dad and he loved it.) Online classes and programs can also be really thoughtful. I’ve gifted people with writing classes and meditation programs. Lumosity is a fun brain training tool that I have given several times. Think about the products and tools you love. Is there someone on your list who would enjoy them as much as you do?
- Make gift cards personal. I’m not a huge fan of gift cards, but adding a special note explaining why you chose a particular one makes all the difference. You can also make a gift card personal by purchasing one from a small business that’s local to your customer – an indie bookstore or coffee shop, for instance.
- Skip the usual suspects and explore renegade gift sources. I love Amazon as much as the next gal, but I love discovering cool products (especially handmade things) via “indie” sources even more. Check out smallish operations like Uncommon Goods, The Grommet, and Etsy, to find unusual and even one-of-a-kind gifts.
- Think like a kid. Just because these are “business gifts” doesn’t mean they have to be serious. I love giving toys and picture books to grown ups. Inspire someone to let her inner child out to play with a funky and fun gift that’s just a little left of center.
- Think small. Some of my favorite gifts to give and receive are collections of “small pleasures” – little things that make people smile and deliver just-right doses of TLC. The types of things that fall into this category include miniature notebooks, special teas, beautifully packaged skin care products, letterpress cards, and so on. These are the kinds of things people don’t usually buy for themselves, but will appreciate as a gift.
I hope these suggestions give you some ideas for how to make your business gifts more fun to give and receive. Go ahead and let your personality and feelings shine through. Choose gifts that let people know you not only appreciate their business, but you appreciate them for who they are.