There are hundreds of ways to show appreciation for your customers this holiday season—even on a shoestring budget. Many businesses hold off until closer to mid-December to deliver gifts to clients, but Thanksgiving is also an ideal time to show them appreciation with gifts or notes of thanks.
Here are four ways to apply Dale Carnegie’s 2ndHuman Relations principle, ‘Give honest, sincere appreciation,’ between now and the end of the year.
- Gifts– Whenever a sales rep. or account manager arrives with holiday gifts, it’s amazing to watch everyone’s eyes light up! The gift could be as small as a winter-flowering bulb or as large as a tower of gourmet cookie tins and the reaction is the same—pure delight! If budget allows, it’s ideal to choose gifts that can be branded with your company’s logo because it helps keep the name of your organization top-of-mind and is a great form of advertising. The cost of purchasing appreciation gifts usually outweighs the benefits, so begin researching options once you’ve nailed down your budget and have an accurate count and categorization if necessary. Some organizations may choose to segment gifts based on clients’ annual spend, for example.
- Merry meals– In my personal opinion, breaking bread with top clients provides the best bang for budget because relationships are so very important! Only by sitting down with people and applying Mr. Carnegie’s 7th principle, ‘Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves,’ can we truly get to know another person and establish, or maintain, a meaningful relationship. In a perfect world, we would have time to do so during the workday, but because today’s business environment is fast-paced and high-pressured, this practically never happens. If budget allows, take your best clients out for a lovely lunch or dinner, and watch relationships grow.
- Thank you notes– I’ve received dozens of holiday gifts over the years, from Bluetooth speakers to rolling coolers, but those I treasure most are hand-written thank you notes. Everyone is short on time, however jotting down just one or two sentences can make a memorable impact on the recipient. Give a specific example of what you’re grateful for to avoid sounding as though you’re sending generic statements to everyone. Don’t limit your list to clients; rather, consider investors, mentors, employees, etc. worthy of a thank you card.
- Re-purposed promotional items– In many industries, it’s common for manufacturers or distributors to give promotional items to retailers or supply-chain intermediaries throughout the year. For example, a company that sells adventure apparel at trade shows and major expos may receive enough samples during the year to stockpile for holiday gift use. Another option is to ask vendors if they have any products available for cross-marketing through which their brand would be featured, for marketing purposes, on items for you to give to your clients—it’s a win-win!