It's December, the time of year when our thoughts are drawn to holiday festivities and the purchase of gifts. As a small business owner, it's also the time when you need to think about what you are going to do about client gifting.
Of course, before we dive into gifting ideas you'll need to make the decision whether or not you're going to give your clients gifts. With the increase in virtual services and communication done entirely via email, Skype and Slack, you may not even have a physical address to send a gift to. And if your business is totally project-based, you may not feel that a client gift is appropriate.
No one says client gifting has to be elaborate or even a physical item, so before you write the idea off, let's talk about the benefits of client gifting first.
Doing a little something for your clients is a great way to show your appreciation for your client's business. Some industries have the opportunity to gift their clients at the end of their project. For example, real estate agents often give their buyers a gift upon the successful purchase of a new home. For my website project clients, I gift them a month of free support at the end of their project.
What if your business isn't ideal for an immediate gift after completing a project. The holidays give us the perfect time to do a little something for our clients. It's mostly to show appreciation, but can be a good marketing method too. Why do you think you're local heating oil or propane company gives out those calendars every year? If it's hanging in your home, it keeps them in mind all year round.
Once you make the decision to give client gifts, the next step is to decide what to give. You could follow in the footsteps of tradition and give a branded calendar, pens, or some other useful item with your business logo on it. While that definitely works, I prefer to go a more personal route with my online technology retainer clients. These are the clients I have built a relationship with over the years, so I like to give them something more individualized than a logo covered calendar.
Of course this decision leads to the question;
Below are 5 ideas to help you show your appreciation for your clients this holiday season:
- Something local. I'm lucky enough to live in the beautiful state of Maine, which means I can gift my clients with some delicious gifts like Maine Maple Syrup, items made with Maine blueberries or even Maine lobster if my budget allowed for it. I'm sure your state or locality has it's own special treats that could give clients a taste of where you are located. I don't draw the line at food gifts either. In past years I've gifted clients items from LL Bean and SeaBags, two Maine businesses that allow me to give something to clients that they can use for years to come. Check out what some of your local businesses may have that could prove to be perfect for client gifting.
- Something handmade. Are you an arts and crafts person? Use your talents to create something totally unique for your clients. For example, one year I created personalized notecards for clients. I've also created handmade notepads with my client's logos on them. Are you an artist? Give them something with your own artwork on it. Believe it or not, clients do appreciate handmade gifts and it will definitely mean something to them that you created something specifically for them.
- Gift cards. It's the old holiday gift standby and it works for clients too. If you don't know your client that well, Amazon or Staples are great options. If you've gotten to know them a bit better, maybe you can find a restaurant local to them or a movie theatre close by. Put the gift card in a nice holiday card with a personal message.
- Donate in their name. If you happen to know some of your client's favorite charities and/or causes, dedicate a donation in your client's name. Or if it's an organization that offers products for sale, purchase something and gift it to your client. Most of these products come with an information card about the proceeds being used to further the cause or help others. It's a nice way to support a client's favorite cause or charity and show your appreciation for them at the same time.
- Handwritten Cards. What if your business budget isn't healthy enough to buy client gifts? Sometimes when you're first starting out, you just don't have the money for client gifting. A handwritten card letting your clients know just how much you appreciate is a great idea and will be very much appreciated.
What if you have only ever corresponded by email and you don't have their mailing address? There's nothing wrong with asking them for it or even letting them know you'd like to send them a little something in appreciation.
You don't have to purchase elaborate gifts to impress clients. It's more about doing a little something to let them know you realize they had a choice when it came to services and how much you appreciate that they chose you.