The holiday season is fast approaching and the questions surrounding gift-giving are once again upon us. What do we get? Who do we buy for? How much do we spend? Here are my insights and helpful hints to make this a most memorable season.
1) Put your team first. In a recent study of pay scales in Marketing Magazine, it was determined that morale, purpose and autonomy were all of high importance when it came to compensation. Ensure your team members are your greatest ambassadors by feeling appreciated and connected. Something simple as a snow brush, carving set, key flashlight, throw blanket, winter jacket and serving tray are all good take-away suggestions. 2)
2) Gift proportionately. Oftentimes one size doesn’t fit all. Instead, look at your list of potential recipients and break them down in categories. For instance if you’re looking to gift your customers, take an ABC rating approach. “A” clients deserve something unique and custom that appeals only to them and is delivered by senior management. “B” clients enjoy a special visit from the account manager with a branded gift and seasonal message of thanks. “C” clients’ gifts can be mailed or couriered with a note of appreciation and best wishes for the holiday. Make the gift value proportionate to the client. 3)
3) Choose a gift that can be shared equally amongst a team of people at one location. Concerned about leaving someone out when there are many people who deserve a gift? Try a large candy bowl for the reception desk or boardroom jammed with pillow wrapped decadent chocolate cookies. The bowl is kept long after the season has passed and provides an excellent opportunity for you to refill that bowl later in the year and be a hero all over again.
4) Consider all the stakeholders. Who else has supported your business this year? Your bank manager? Courier drivers? Outsourced service providers? How about prospects? The Chamber of Commerce? Your M.P.? Remind them how important they are to your business with a token of thanks. 5)
5) Be relevant. Don’t be tempted to buy what you like unless you know that’s what your clients (staff/providers/circle of influence) like. Look carefully at your list and match the gift item to the demographic.
6) Give them something they can use. By identifying your audience you’ll identify whether a business gift or something more personal is in order. Step out of the usual with mittens or toques, power charges, home safety kits, a pepper mill, travel mug, cutting board, or how about a Christmas bulb USB with a recorded message from your team? 7)
7) Create a keepsake. Custom ornaments can be a work of art and become a series of keepsakes. Same goes for picture frames, candle holders and artist prints duplicated on the cover of journal books. 8)
8) Personalize. People keep a gift that bears their name. (A note on personalization, though; it backfires if the name is spelled incorrectly. Personalize accurately.) 9)
9) Appeal to the senses. A gift that ignites multiple senses will be more memorable. How about a crystal mug filled with mouth watering truffles? Or a wreath with fresh eucalyptus? Or a holiday tune sound card with a pen/stylus combination? Or a selection of cheeses on a branded cheese board? Or a cuddly robe and cinnamon hot chocolate? 10)
10) Make every element of your gift useful. Go Eco by offering your gifts in reusable, seasonal packaging like stockings, drawstring fabric bags, toiletry pouches, wine sleeves or wrap them in scarves, zippered ipad sleeves, kitchen towels or aprons. 11)
11) Save a tree. How about putting your message on a sticky note pad, a luggage tag, a banner pen, a coaster, or a holiday shopping bag? If you choose a card, select recycled or even better, seeded paper. 12)
12) Involve a charity. While a financial gift to a charity is noble, it tends to leave out those who supported your businesses. A three-way program – we call it “Hugs from the Stars” – is a way to bring your clients into your charitable gift program by sending them a token gift relevant to that which your intended charity receives. For instance: want to give teddy bears to children in the hospital? Send teddy bear ornaments to your clients sharing the message of your gift. Giving “keep warm” kits to the shelter? Send mini gloves with a message to your customers. 13)
13) Surprise someone. One of the most meaningful client programs we orchestrated was potted plants with seasonal embellishments and a custom card. The client – a Benefits Provider – had the plants delivered to the nursing stations at the local hospital just before the holidays. The feedback was phenomenal as the hospital staff members were touched by the thought and generosity. The people who serve us the most are the ones often forgotten. The Christmas season is a perfect time to share your appreciation and tidings of great joy. Remember we’re not companies dealing with companies; we’re people dealing with people. Create a gift budget that will enable you to communicate your sentiments effectively and be memorable all year long.