As wonderful as the holidays are, they create an awful lot of clutter. We’re in the month of love, and gifting is on everyone’s mind.
I recently read the book, Giftology, by John Ruhlin and knew I needed to chat with him to find out how we can be more thoughtful in client gift giving.
I mean, take a look around – how many unburned candles and half-eaten fruit baskets are sitting by your desk? How many new coffee mugs are gathering dust in your kitchen cabinet?
So how can we be more thoughtful about giving gifts to our clients? The Giftology Group has these tips to share.
1. Take a Year-Round Approach
Everyone gives around the holidays. When there are a dozen other gifts sitting in someone’s mailbox, it’s incredibly hard to stand out.
Why not wait for the right moment? Ruhlin actually advises against giving business gifts around the holidays. Giving something to a client when he or she isn’t expecting it is a far better use of your gift budget. And outside the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas period, you’re far more likely to find a good deal on your gift.
2. Make Sure the Price Is Right
How much should you spend? “Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to that question. If a client is spending $10,000 a month with your company, gifting a $10 pair of socks might come across as cheap. On the other hand, a $500 gift could come across as lavish or excessive.” advises Ruhlin.
As a rule of thumb, look for something in the $50-$200 range. A gift in that range probably won’t cause the client to feel embarrassed, but it also won’t seem stingy.
3. Consider What They Collect
When you only interact with someone in a business setting, getting a true glimpse of their interests can be tough. Pay attention to what she collects: is her desk covered in baseball bobbleheads? What’s on her walls?
When in doubt, ask. Lucy Bartlett, who currently heads the strategy team at performance video company TubeScience, learned a sales leader in her network enjoys and collects interesting umbrellas, Bartlett surprised her with a MoMA art umbrella instead of a “normal” client gift. The client reportedly loved it and felt more connected to the company.
4. Add a Handwritten Note
Is there any better feeling in the world than getting a handwritten letter or card? I know I’m not alone: More than eight in 10 American adults see handwritten notes as more thoughtful than emails or texts. “You don’t need to spend a lot of time on it, either. It only takes a sentence or two to tell the recipient why you appreciate them. If you can’t find a card you think the person would like, jot your note on stationary or even notebook paper.” says Ruhlin.
5. Pay Attention To Packaging
The first thing your recipient sees about your gift isn’t the gift itself; it’s the wrapping. A good gift deserves a good presentation.
Again, you don’t need to spend a lot of time or money to pull this off. Gift bags and wrapping paper often go on sale right after the holidays. Non-traditional wrapping materials can work as well: Fabric, tissue paper, or even foil can help you put the finishing touch on your gift.
6. Gifts Are Not Ads
If there’s anything that turns someone off to a gift, it’s when the giver tries to make the gift do double duty as an advertisement. I can’t count the number of logo-covered tote bags and water bottles I’ve received. Michelle Buelow, an award recipient of the Ernst & Young Winning Women Award, is the founder of Bella Tunno. The company creates thoughtful baby products, which is an example of a more thoughtful gift during a time that can mean a lot to a person.
The point of a gift is to truly let a person know you care about them and the important people around them, not advertising to them. Printing a logo, slogan, or phone number on your gift is like telling a client, “I care about you because you might bring me new business.”
When it comes to client gifts, choosing the right one is just the start. The difference between “not quite right” and delight comes down to wrapping, timing, and delivery. Nail those things, and you’re sure to make them smile.