It's the Thought That Counts

3 Unusual Gifts of Appreciation That Your Clients Actually Want

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It’s here again – that ‘most wonderful time of the year.’ Many agencies and consultants take the opportunity to thank their clients at this time of the year. Sadly, many gifts are either too conventional or boring to be noticed. Here are some ideas for acts of appreciation that clients do pay attention to and help you differentiate and stand out.

To many, the holiday season is viewed with ambivalence. For a time that should be about reflection, in many, it triggers a bizarre amount of stress. Buying gifts is often a big part of that seasonal rat race.

When Gifts Lose Their Relevance

As if gifts for family and friends weren’t enough, many feel compelled to buy gifts for customers and business associates too. Sadly, many business signs of appreciation and gratitude are often a wasted effort. As companies get buried in too many all too similar gifts for the seasons, these tokens of appreciation get devalued and lose their impact.

I’m not saying that gift-giving is a bad idea in itself. What I do say is that it doesn’t work or show true appreciation if there’s no clear intention behind the gift. Also, consuming more resources for something that risks going to a landfill seems incredibly short-sighted, given the state of our planet.

Building Client Loyalty Through Appreciation

Giving gifts can be an incredibly powerful way to connect with customers and build loyalty. A well-chosen gift or act of appreciation, makes you stand out. As we’ve covered in previous articles, standing out is necessary in order to differentiate and position yourself well. Businesses that differentiate successfully are in a better position to charge for what makes them unique. In other words, get paid for the unique value only they can give their clients.

As an independent consultant who often works on client premises, I’m used to seeing the enormous boxes or baskets of seasonal candy in time for the holidays, gifted by IT consulting companies to their clients. These boxes aren’t noticed anymore, just taken for granted. As such, I consider them to be a massive waste of money.

3 Simple Ideas for Showing Appreciation You Can Try Today

Gifting candy isn’t a bad idea. It’s just that everyone does it which means you’ll be “yet another.” There are better ways to get noticed and showing that your customer is important to you. Ways that don’t strain the planet and which people will remember you for.

1. Send Hand-Written Cards or Letters

In this digital era of cheap and simple digital content duplication, the mere act of grabbing a pen and writing some words on paper stands out. Writing and sending a simple greeting card as a way to show appreciation is an attention-grabber.

I’ve been writing and sending cards to my clients for years now, and I know it’s noticed. Clients often thank me for the cards. I also see these tokens of appreciation being displayed prominently on my clients’ desks.

Just sending a written note is great. But if you want to step it up a bit and show your customer some real appreciation, here are some things you can try:

Be Personal

Write a personalized message of appreciation to your client that relates to what you’ve worked on together. I usually cheat and type something on the computer before I write it out by hand, just to make sure it turns out right.

Improve Your Hand

Practice your handwriting. My handwriting isn’t the best so I usually write out the message of appreciation a few times on paper to make sure it’s readable.

Make It Look Interesting

Simply use an interesting pen instead of the old blue ball-point. You can try different colors or use calligraphic pens for extra effect. Stickers and stamps are other ways to augment the card-reading experience.

Give Some Thought to the Packaging

If you send your card in an envelope, seal the envelope using wax. This is, in fact, easier than it sounds. A wax seal stamp doesn’t cost much and they can even be customized with your company’s logo. There are also wax guns that melt the wax using electricity, making application easy and non-messy.

Use Cards That Communicate Your Values

Instead of a plain card, send a card that gives back. I’ve sent UNICEF cards, for which a share of the price goes to helping children displaced by conflict and war.

2. Send Useful High-Quality Gifts in Lumpy Envelopes

Direct marketing research has shown that people are more likely to open lumpy envelopes compared to flat ones. That’s why many direct marketers include pens and simple gifts. It increases the open rate.

The same principle works for mail you send to your customers. You can try something similar by buying useful branded gifts and mailing them in a gift-wrapped padded envelope. Gift-wrapping a plain brown padded bag will make it stand out.

The key thing is to gift something useful and of quality. The better the gift, the more positive the association with you and your brand. Gifts also serve to trigger reciprocation. The reason why car salesmen offer you coffee isn’t only kindness, but to create a feeling of having to return the favor.

The same psychological principle works for other types of gifts. Just make sure you give something sustainable, or at least substantial. For your client, and for the planet. Cheap items break easily and just add to our growing landfills.

USB Memory Sticks or Pen Drives Are Always Appreciated

Many people still use memory sticks. If you choose to buy one for a customer, make sure it has at least a few gigs of storage. You can choose to have your logo printed on it.

You can give this idea some extra boost by loading a video of your personal greeting to your customer on the pen drive.

The drawback of this idea is that many large companies block USB pen drives. Check before to make sure your client can in fact use the drive and view any content on it.

Phone-Powered Mini Fans Are Fun and Practical

These are one of my favorite giveaways. Highly practical and appreciated by everyone. Clients that live in hot climates will definitely appreciate this gift. My mini fan came in very handy while attending a wedding in a church in Italy in 42 degrees C!

Power Banks Always Come in Handy

The more connected we become, the more we rely on batteries. As we all know, running out of battery is a daily nuisance. Many of us have come to rely on power banks to give our phones extra juice when needed.

A branded power bank with your logo on it can be a good gift. Just buy one with enough capacity to be useful. I’d say at least 5,000 mAh.

3. Simply Tell Your Clients What They Mean to You

The act of appreciation that comes with the least negative impact on our planet is to simply to send a video message digitally. It doesn’t have to be complicated to be appreciated.

To do this, grab the people who have worked with the client during the last year and gather in a conference room. Prop up a laptop on the table and record a video in which you all tell the client how much you’ve enjoyed working with them.

If you’re a distributed team, ask each member to record a message. Then combine all the clips into one movie using iMovie or your preferred video editing software. Keep it short and sweet, under a minute if possible.

I promise you your clients will like what you’ve done. It will not go unnoticed.

Visit Client.Love For More Ways to Show Appreciation and Saying Thanks

Our client happiness generator offers even more ideas for ways to express appreciation to customers and clients.


Author: Jakob Persson

Jakob is the founder and CEO of Zingsight, the company behind Bondsai. He's been involved with the web for over twenty years and has previously co-founded and grown a web agency from 4 to 70 people. Jakob holds degrees in media technology and cognitive science. He consults in product design and management, and business development. Jakob is an experienced skier and a learning scuba diver.