Why give gifts to clients and customers at the holidays?
The right holiday appreciation gift stay can help you show your gratitude for and stay top of mind with your customers all year round.
Gift giving is also a powerful, underutilized marketing tool.
By showing your customers you care, it goes a long way to building positive word of mouth. Giving to clients makes them more likely to speak highly of you to their clients, customers, and fellow entrepreneurs.
How to get started with gift giving for entrepreneurs
The hardest part of customer appreciation gift giving is getting started!
Don’t overthink holiday gifts. Many companies and entrepreneurs don’t send any. You’ll automatically stand out by taking the time to gift give.
Start by keeping these 12 gift giving for entrepreneur tips in mind:
12 gift giving best practices
1. A bigger budget doesn’t necessarily mean a better gift
As a small business owner, you may not have a huge budget for holiday gift giving.
How much should you spend, then, on customer appreciation gifts?
The most memorable, most impactful gifts are the ones that are genuine and kind. A thoughtfully-handwritten card does very well to show your appreciation.
2. But resist going cheap
If you’re making the effort to send clients and customers gifts, don’t skimp out. This means no mass-produced, dime a dozen gifts, like a branded USB charger.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes: would you enjoy receiving this gift? If the answer is yes, you’re golden like the lights on a Christmas tree.
3. Personalize the gift
Don’t overthink this one. Personalization can be as simple as writing their first name on a gift.
When a client receives something personalized, they’re more likely to love it and feel connected to your company.
4. Consider what the client likes
If you have the luxury of getting to know your clients throughout the year, go one step further with a custom gift.
What do they like? How do they spend their time? Customise your gift to their interests.
Not sure what to give? Ask them.
5. Add a handwritten card or note
Is there anything better than receiving a handwritten card? We don’t think so.
Build on points 1 & 3 by sending a handwritten card.
A research poll from a few years back showed a third of adults hadn’t received a
handwritten note in over a year. Your business will stand out if it sends one over the holidays.
The best part: it only takes a sentence or two to tell the customer you appreciate them.
6. Presentation & detail matters
A thoughtful gift deserves thoughtful presentation. A gift’s wrapping is the first thing a customer will see, afterall.
It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to beautifully present a gift. A pretty envelope, some lovely twine, and—voilá—your gift is ready to make a good first impression.
7. Gifts are not marketing opportunities
The point of sending a gift is to let your client or customer know you appreciate them, not a chance for shameless self-promotion.
Sure, you can cleverly use your branding colours in the gift packaging (see point No. 6)—and we recommend it!—but avoid slathering the gift with your logo*.
Rule of thumb: avoid putting your brand on the gift.*
*There are exceptions to this rule. We’ll cover these later in this article. *Cliffhanger*
8. The gift can relate to your product or service
What your business does should influence your holiday customer gift giving.
For example, if you sell soap, give customers a sample of a new scent or, even better, a scent available exclusively to current customers, i.e., not available to the public.
If you provide a service, as a marketing agency, lawyer, or real estate agent, it makes more sense to send a personalized gift.
9. Be mindful of holidays
Unless you explicitly know that a customer celebrates a specific holiday, it’s best to keep gifts non-denominational.
Use wrapping and language in cards reflective of the season, not a particular holiday. Think winter-themed instead of Christmas. Say, ‘Seasons Greetings’ instead of “Happy Hanukkah’.
10. Have gifts reflect your business values
The type of gift you send says a lot about your corporate values.
If you believe in environmental stewardship, give something compostable or gentle on the Earth. If supporting small business matters to you (you may be a small business!) give a gift that supports one in your community.
11. Think local
This goes along with the previous point about expressing company values.
Support your community and tell your customers what matters to your business by shopping locally.
Go one step further by giving a gift from another one of your (small business) clients or customers. Your gift back to them will be the best one of all: showing them you believe in what they’re doing by spreading the word about what they do and supporting them financially.
12. Take a year-round approach
Forgot the holidays. Why not wait until another time of year to give?
A birthday, a business anniversary, or another milestone (like the anniversary of when they became YOUR client) all work as unique opportunities to surprise and delight your customers.
You’ll also stand out from other businesses who all give around the holidays.
What is the best type of gift to give a client?
Now that we’ve covered gift-giving best practices, it’s time to talk about ideas.
Here is a list of holiday gift ideas that will be sure to keep you top of mind with your customers all year round.
12 holiday gift ideas for customers and clients
1. Coffee or tea
This gift is not only non-perishable, and it’s also work-themed. Who doesn’t enjoy a cup of coffee or tea at the beginning of their work day?
Even if they don’t, you’ve now given them a lovely present customers can re-gift.
2. Hot chocolate
Along the same lines as coffee or tea, hot chocolate is a delicious seasonal option that works for anyone regardless of which holiday they celebrate.
3. Mini succulent plant
Give a present that will add some life to your customer’s home office—like a plant.
Having said that, you wouldn’t want to give a plant that’s too delicate. A succulent is the perfect amount of green that requires the least amount of effort.
Show people you care by giving them something that doesn’t require a lot of care!
4. Gift card
A gift card ticks off a lot of boxes. They don’t cost a lot of money, are easy to send, illustrate your taste and values, and show your support for other local businesses.
Gift cards for a local coffee shop, restaurant, or boutique are all good options.
A slightly highly commitment price-wise, books also make an excellent client present.
Depending on your budget or how many books you want to send, we recommend you select a few special clients to give a book or look for a discount on bulk orders.
To inspire you, here are the Best Books of the Year: Top 10 Lists.
A neat alternative to the book idea is an audiobook. Companies like Audible offer gift cards your customers can then apply to a membership.
7. Online course
Give the gift of learning this holiday season.
8. Movie voucher
Nowadays, you don’t need to go to a theatre to see a movie, you can watch them at home.
A notebook or journal is a useful, beautiful, and classy touch as a client gift. Depending on how well you know the client, you can even have some fun with the colour and style of the notebook.
10. A donation in their name (charity donation)
A donation is the gift that gives twice: once to your customer and once to the organization you’re donating to.
Pick a cause important to your client. If you don’t know of one, pick one that’s important to your business (see point no. 10 above in our gift giving best practices).
11. Baked goods/bakery delivery
Send a box of baked goods from your favourite neighbourhood bakery, or combine them with coffee, tea, or hot chocolate (see idea 1 & 2), and you have the makings of a simple and delectable holiday gift idea.
Worried about dietary restrictions? There are many delicious options these days for baked goods made without dairy, gluten, and nuts.
This is another opportunity to ask your client what’s appropriate. Or, pick something that works for all nutritional needs.
12. And last but not least, a handwritten card
We keep mentioning it but a handwritten note is a wonderful way to tell your client’s what they mean to your business.
Whether you send it along with a gift or on it’s own, a handwritten holiday card is the perfect way to say ‘thank you’ to customers.
What are the exceptions to the gift giving rules?
Remember earlier we mentioned exceptions to the branding rule on corporate gifts? Well, here it is:
If you can make a gift that’s truly unique, creative, and/or useful then by all means, include your branding on it.
Here is an example of an awesome branded customer gift:
Branded coasters with quotes from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
If your team has come up with something so original that you’re having a hard time keeping it a secret, you deserve to have your company name on it!
Final thoughts on our gift giving guide for entrepreneurs
We hope you found this gift giving guide for entrepreneurs helpful.
Whether you’re looking for ideas for the holidays or need gift giving ideas for other times of the year, the best practices and ideas in this guide are designed to help.
When done right, sending a small token of your appreciation can go a long way to creating long-lasting relationships with customers.
Remember: the worst gift you can send is the one you don’t send!
A handwritten holiday card is all you need to make a customer’s holi(day).
Happy gift giving from the team at Backbone Executive Offices!
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