Tis’ the season of giving! Although it’s important to show your appreciation year-round, sending reasonably-priced gifts during the holidays can go a long way in keeping you engaged with your clients and centers of influence, while continuing to nurture those all-important business friendships. Remember – a sense of “engagement” with you and your team is what makes you Super Referable and can stimulate referrals without even asking.
While some will argue that “it’s the thought that counts,” not all client gifts are created equal. While sending a mass-produced gift basket from some magazine or website may be better than nothing, if you want to send a client gift that is memorable and makes you stand out from the crowd, the key is personalization.
There are two ways to personalize client gifts. The gift could be personalized to the client’s world. For example, I’m always sending reasonably-priced gifts related to a client’s favorite sports team, university, author, etc.
Client gifts can also be personalized to your world. I have a lawyer friend who spends a full day every holiday season baking gourmet brownies with his wife to send out to his clients and referral sources. Since they have been doing this for years, their lucky recipients (myself included) have come to expect and look forward to the brownies’ arrival.
Please note… personalizing client gifts does NOT just mean slapping your logo onto something and calling it a day! Instead, it means investing a bit of time and energy into choosing a gift that will be personally meaningful to the person to whom you giving it.
As I mentioned above, not only might you personalize client gifts relating to a favorite sports team or where someone went to college, you could also take into account their hobbies or special interests, their children’s names, or even where their children go to college
***NOTE – If you are a financial professional, you probably have restrictions on the amount you can spend on client gifts. Usually with dinners and such, where you can attend, the restrictions are removed.
While centering the gift around the client’s world is arguably the best way to show that you’ve been pay attention to what they are passionate about, if you’re struggling to come up with something, the next best thing is to share a bit of your world with them.
One good way to do this is to send a gift with some local flavor – something that falls into the category of the “best of” your area.
Being from Maryland, for a number of years I sent my out-of-state clients a “taste of Maryland” gift box that included Old Bay, a spice that is most commonly used in the steaming of Maryland Blue Crabs, but can be used to season almost anything – even sprinkling on French Fries. (Heck, some die-hard Marylanders will even put it in their coffee!)
Another way to personalize a gift is to share something with your clients that gives them a little peek into who you are as a person. Doing so can help people to feel like they know you better, and connect with you on a more personal level. For example, , one of the most well-received client gifts I ever sent is when my daughter was a little girl selling Girl Scout cookies. I sent out 144 boxes of Thin Mints! Not only did my clients love the personal nature of the gift, but my daughter led her troop in cookie sales that year! Win, win.
My long-held philosophy has been, “If it has your logo on it, it’s not a gift. It’s a promotion.” My exception to this rule is if the item that is likely to be truly used or enjoyed by the client or referral source. For example, I had a financial advisor give me a high-quality golf umbrella that I still use to this day.
Forget the mugs, mouse pads, or pens. If you absolutely must send a branded gift, the key is to ensure that the promotional nature of the product is outweighed by its unique functionality, especially if that functionality relates to one of your client’s passions or interests. For example:
This article is not meant to be an exhaustive list of gift resources; rather something to stimulate your thinking and get you rolling on anything you might want to do in this last quarter.
I wouldn’t be the “Referral Coach” if I failed to reiterate the point that you should be making it a point to thank your referral sources whenever they make an introduction for you. Don’t wait for the prospect to turn into a client. Just “reward” the giving of the referral or making of the introduction.
While a phone call or handwritten note would be minimum and might suffice during the year, it is often a good idea to go the extra mile at the holidays by sending a nice “thank you” gift or even a “thank you” event; a social event where you only invite clients who have sent referrals your way over the course of the year.
Tags: Be More Referable.