Clients remember great gifts and terrible gifts, never the ones in between – so take the time to be great, or take this year off and save up for something next year.
Picture this: It’s the holiday season, sparkling lights, festive décor, and a stuffed mailbox. You eagerly sort through the barrage of envelopes to a find a small, wrapped package with your name on it. Your inner child squeals with glee as you tear off the paper and open the brightly colored box to reveal … a Christmas tree shaped stress ball with [VENDOR LOGO] plastered all over it.
Disappointed, but not deterred, you spot a larger package with a massive red bow. This has got to be something good, you tell yourself. The bigger, the better, right? And it’s from one of your top vendors, a firm you tripled your spend with this year. The bow slips off, the tape undone, and out pops, literally, a massive tub of caramel popcorn. Your least favorite flavor.
The popcorn ends up in the breakroom, its big bow in the trash, while the stress ball goes into your desk drawer, only to be thrown out years later in an ironic moment of deep desk cleaning rage. And your inner child consoles herself with dreams of better gifts in the years to come.
The holidays are supposed to be a time of happiness, joy, and gratitude. Nothing says the exact opposite more than a terrible holiday gift. We’ve all received them – the 2XL shirt when you typically wear a small, golf balls when you don’t play golf, a bottle of wine when you’re pregnant, and yet another knockoff Yeti insulated coffee cup. And the worst part? It just feels like no one cares. It feels like that new relationship you worked on this year didn’t mean anything. At a time when we should be thankful and grateful, we cringe with every “special delivery” which just adds another fruitcake to the never-ending pile of bad, cheap sweets in the office breakroom.
Let’s take this opportunity to reset client holiday gift giving. We appreciate our clients all year round, but it’s important to show them that you care, and many of us choose to do so with a holiday gift. So make it count. Make your clients feel like they are important, special, valued. And how do you do that? Well, what’s important, special, and valuable to them? Are they always talking about their kids? You could get them a family experience to enjoy – maybe an annual family pass to a local attraction. Are they the consummate foodie? Try a gift card to a trendy new restaurant or even a unique food delivery service. Do you meet them for coffee at the same cafe every time you meet? Perhaps a local coffee subscription or mug from their favorite spot.
Good, quality food is always appreciated (emphasis on the quality). Gift cards with wide appeal (like Starbucks and Amazon) can be a fallback. You could also consider a subscription service, so they’ll get a monthly reminder all year long of how much you appreciate them. Take stock yourself of the best and worst gifts you’ve ever gotten and what made them stand out. Wander through the breakroom on a December Friday afternoon and see what off-brand pre-packaged gift hasn’t been touched and take note.
Clients remember great gifts and terrible gifts, never the ones in between. So either take this year to be great, or take this year off and save up for something great. Prioritize your top clients along with a few new key clients and maximize your spending there. The bottom line is that the gift should be about your client, not you. It should have less logo and more mojo. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be personal and thoughtful, like every great gift you have ever received.
Malory Atkinson is co-founder and managing partner of Shear Structural. She can be reached at email@example.com or via social media @maloryatkinson.