….to give and receive gifts, thanks and appreciation. And I do have a bee in my bonnet about this one. I believe that gifts, thanks and appreciation should be personal, not corporate. Even when you are thanking clients or partners. Selling is personal. Remember? Know, Like ,Trust. If you want a client to continue to like you and trust you, you need to relate to them person to person. Not corporate entity to corporate entity.
So what does that mean for gifts?
1) Holidays cards should not have your logo on them. Regardless of the holiday you are celebrating, trying to align your brand and the holiday is just plain cheesy. I don’t want to see your logo on the Christmas tree ornament, or your logo on my box of valentine’s chocolates. If you want to wish someone happy holidays, make the wish from you personally, not from your corporation. Reach out from your heart – its good for the pocket book!
If you are so concerned that the client will not remember who you are without your coporate logo attached to the gift or card, you have a a relationship problem that a card alone will not fix. Time to work on making yourself more memorable.
2) Cards and gifts should be physical not virtual. E-cards are the most impersonal thoughtless “gift” you can give at this time of year. Most end up in spam. E-Cards send the message of “I’m too lazy to hand write you a note and put a stamp on this letter even though you netted me $10,000 in commissions last year”. Do you want your clients to think you are lazy and ungrateful?
A physical hand written card and/or a gift is a reminder of you. A nice card, plant, or gift basket sits on the receiver’s desk for days, week’s maybe. It’s a reminder of who you are. A representation of you. When people open cards and gifts, they feel good, they say out loud “how thoughtful, how sweet how kind”. When was the last time you caught yourself remarking that an e-card was a “kind gesture”.
3) Telling clients that “in lieu of a gift, a donation has been made to X” is a cop out. Now, before you beat me up for being uncharitable, you are missing the point. My point is not to stiff the charities. Everyone should give. For themselves. All year. I give all year round to many charities that have personal significance to me. (Diabetes because of my brother, Human Society because of Conrad, Women’s Shelters because I think they are important, Boys and Girls clubs because I want to help kids). And that is exactly my point.
Giving to your charities of choice on behalf of your clients is selfish because giving to your favorite charity only benefits you. You get to pick the charity. You get the satisfaction of making the donation. You get the benefit of the tax write off. You get the thanks from the charity. Your client gets nothing but an e-card they delete within 5 minutes of reading.
Besides, their are some cynics who wonder aloud if the money “saved by not buying you a card this year” is really going to a charity or just going back into the general ledger to buoy profits…. I know that’s not true for you but why risk your clients feeling that way?
If you want to give your client a “thanks for doing business with us gift” , give them something that is meaningful and personalized to them.
4) Your gift does not have to break the bank. Send a card and a nice package of gourmet hot chocolate to those you know like chocolate. A $5 Coffee card to the coffee drinkers. A small book or magazine to the readers in your database. All these choices are easy to mail, will cost you less than $5, and can be personalized. If the client has spent $5,000 or more with you this year, is $5 too much to spend thanking them? If you company won’t spring for it, you should. Top performers know that making the effort to reach out to their clients personally will make the difference between being in the top 10% and being mediocre next year.
5) Thanking your clients should not be a once a year activity. In fact, this time of year is not even the best time. If you truly want to stand out to your clients, and be remembered as thoughtful and appreciative of their business, make it a habit of sending regular thanks, throughout the year.
Thanking clients is an important business building skill. The more appreciative you are the more repeat business and referral business you will receive. Just make sure to do it right. Thank from the heart and make it about the client. Doing so will ensure you thrive in any economy.
Dedicated to helping you increase your sales,
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