When I owned and operated Horizon Interactive, I made it a point to give my clients a beautiful calendar as a Christmas gift each year. I put a lot of effort into the visual appeal and the quality of the calendar so it could stand out and be something that my clients would treasure all year long. My thinking was that I was pretty brilliant giving them a gift that would keep my business name and phone number at their disposal all year long.
Knowing what I know now I was not only wrong, I was very wrong! Here is why.
First off, the calendar never came with a good story. A gift with a story is an artifact everything else is just stuff. As I discussed in Make Client Interactions More Memorable With This Technique a story attached to a gift makes it memorable and something of meaning and not just more stuff.
The next mistake I made was including the name of my business and my phone number on the calendar. By including these items on my calendars, I not only made the calendar, not even a gift, I made it promotional swag. A gift should not include your logo or any other type of branding.
The next mistake was giving all my clients the same calendar. Other than selecting the best-looking calendar, whose pictures and quotes I thought my clients would enjoy, as a gift it was not, in the least, thoughtful. Since every client got the same calendar, it was like sending a clear message that they were not special in any way.
Another mistake was giving out the calendars at Christmas each year. Gifts stand out when they are unexpected. Christmas time is a period where my customers probably received several gifts so my calendar was just one of the many gifts they had likely received. Perhaps even several identical ones like Mr. Shirley received in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation from all his employees. You should avoid giving gifts to clients during holidays and on their birthdays because it will not stand out. It is much better to give a gift on a random day when it is unexpected.
The last piece of advice related to strategic gift giving is to consider not sending a gift at all to your client, but to the people that support them such as their admin or better yet their spouse. Your client’s admin is their gatekeeper and can become your biggest ally. A client’s spouse can be your greatest ally too as they sleep with your client. In one case a client jokingly complained that his wife, who received a thoughtful gift, was recruited as a pretty effective salesperson.
In conclusion, a gift needs to have a story, and not be promotional in nature. It needs to be uniquely suited to each person, and be delivered when it is least expected. It is also helpful to give a gift to persons that have the most influence on your intended target.
How can you gain customer loyalty through strategic gift giving?
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