As we approach the 2012 holiday season, our thoughts turn to gift giving. I’ll speculate that some (most?) of you B2B and B2C peeps will include your clients/customers on your “naughty or nice” list.
Client/referral appreciation comes in many giving forms: some involve money, some involve time, and some involve both. Before overindulging in your Thanksgiving meal this week, consider your options for saying “thank you” to the people who value your business acumen and talent:
Look to Your Local Client Retention Ninjas for Memorable Gifts: Many businesses send the obligatory calendar to their clients at Christmastime. If you want to be Far From the Madding Crowd, consider giving a tastier (and tasteful) gift either after Thanksgiving (exactly so) or closer to New Year’s Day. Locally in South Jersey, businesses that create client retention edibles at all price levels include More Than Gifts, Jest Notes & Baskets, and RuCrafts Designs.
A Donation Is a Terrible Thing to Not Do: If your gift-giving budget is lean this time of year, you have an altruistic alternative. Something I’ve done and will continue to do is make a lump sum donation to a charitable organization on behalf of all my clients. I then send out individual cards notifying them of my donation. It makes me feel good, it makes my clients smile, and it benefits people who really need some help. A variation on this theme is to make separate, smaller donations to the charitable groups or fundraisers your individual clients champion.
Candy Is Dandy, but Referral Gifts Give Lift: When a business friend sends a new client your way, a small token of your esteem is a great way to give thanks. If possible, tailor the gift to your friend’s personal preferences. Ways I second that emotion include gift cards from Panera Bread, Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, local restaurants, Target, and even the Home Depot. (Sorry my techie friends – the Apple store is a bit beyond my reach.)
When Money Is an Object, Give Link Love: Okay, so your gift-giving budget is Gone With the Wind. Fear not, Miss Melanie (or Mister Ashley), appreciation doesn’t always mean opening your wallet. Because social networking offers many broadcasting channels, you can give your clients the gift of free publicity! When you promote a client’s upcoming business event or e-newsletter or website/blog, you push some good karma out into the online world.
Goodwill Ambassadors and Online Introducers (Yes, I Made Up a Word) Rule: When you’re out networking in the physical world, be ready to promote a client’s product or service when appropriate. Similarly, if you know/meet two lovely people who would benefit from an introduction, do the right thing and be an online/offline connector. More “instant karma” will follow!
How do you express appreciation to both clients and business friends? What is the most creative “business love” you’ve either given or received? Don’t be shy about appreciation – goodwill tends to accumulate during the holiday season, but you can spread it any time of the year!
Lori Shapiro is the owner of By All Writes LLC, a business writing, editing, and research company in Marlton, New Jersey. She revels in shielding her clients from the pain of writing their own print and web marketing copy. Call her (856-810-9764) or email her (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a no-obligation project quote today!