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Holiday Client Gifts – how do you do it?

by Taylor White

Do you give holiday and/or year-end gifts to your customers/clients? If so, what do you provide and what do you think is appropriate? Do you find it difficult to buy just the right thing? Do you have an issue with how to actually get the item(s) into the recipient’s hands – distribution issues, if you will? Is it an awkward process for you or one  you enjoy and look forward to? Are you concerned you are going to establish a precedent with your gift that is hard to meet or exceed in future years?

I’m curious how small business owners handle this annually and how you feel about it.

For me my mood around the holidays and toward the end of the year is based largely on how well the business is doing or what kind of year we’ve had or are having. But that’s basically what determines my mood every day, so this should be no different. However, as with many small business owners, the end of the year and the holidays bring with it a certain amount of stress. Since I’m a professional services provider, the end of the year for me is a time of fewer sales and higher costs. Additionally, it’s a time of lower productivity from my team – it’s hard to say, but it’s true.

I try to forget about how I’m feeling right then and there and just think about the entire year and what is “right” to do, gift-wise.

Here’s how I do it. I look at my top clients (mostly determined by revenue I generated from those clients that year) – this year it was 20. I then determine who my most important clients of the top group are. So for my business in 2013 I picked my 20 clients to get a gift of some kind – a small gift that the entire office or some larger group besides my main contact(s) could enjoy. This year it was Peppermint Bark from Williams-Sonoma. Whenever possible we hand delivered this gift to our clients the first week of December. Then, within the group of 20 I felt like five clients deserved something more, something in addition to the “group” gift.

I then purchased separate items for the key decision makers within each of these five clients (between 2 and 4 decision makers each), gifts like golf shirts, gift certificates to their favorite restaurant, etc… I then hand wrote a note and hand delivered those gifts myself.

I’m not sure if my way is the right way or if there even is a right way. But I do think acknowledging your customers and clients sometime during the year or at the end of the year is a smart thing to do.

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