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December 4, 2013

“Should we send holiday gifts to clients?”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is one of those questions that always stirs up a lot of additional questions within businesses.

What do we send?”  “How much to spend?”  “Who do we send them to – all clients or just our largest ones?”  “Do we send them to individual contacts or just one per client?”  “What about past clients or sales prospects?”

“Can we afford to send them this year?”  “Are there any religious or cultural implications?”  “Who do they come from – the executive team, sales, marketing or the project managers?”  “Do we also send holiday cards?”

“And if we decide not to send them, will they think any less of us?”  “What if we don’t… but our competitors do?”  “Do our clients even care?”  “What does it really get us?”

That’s a lot of anxiety for what should be a simple and kind gesture.  Sort of makes you believe in the old adage… “No good deed goes unpunished!

There is no right or wrong answer here, but a couple of thoughts come to mind…

  1. Perhaps one way to look at this is from a “resource perspective” (a lens I suggest to clients for all business development decisions)… let’s say you’re willing to spend $2,500 on client gifts.  Fine.  Is sending holiday gifts to your clients the best use of that $2,500 (and the man-hours necessary to make it happen)?  Maybe there’s a better marketing use of that same $2,500 worth considering.
  2. If you’re going to do it… be memorable.  Anyone can (and most everyone will) send a gift basket or a box of baked goods.  But there are exceptions… I have friends in Baltimore who send fresh-roasted, red pistachios in a brown paper bag tied with a red ribbon every year to all clients.  Not fancy, not expensive… but (as you can guess) – no one else is doing anything like it.  And because they’ve done it for years… it’s now at the point where their clients are asking, “Are you sending out the nuts again this year?”  Not bad, huh?

Like I said… not an easy decision.  Good luck… and good shopping!

By the way, if you’ve got a unique gift-giving idea or suggestion to share with our readers, please post it below.

Happy holidays.

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