My dad is a bright guy -- he's been feeding me good business ideas for a long time. One of my favorites is something I adopted four years ago and has worked incredibly well for me ever since.
That idea? We give Thanksgiving gifts to our clients and vendors. (Don't forget your vendors -- check out my blog from October 2007 if you need a refresher.) In the past, we¹ve given mugs, specialty coasters, and staplers. This year, we sent everyone jalapeño plants with our logo on a tin pot. On the other side of the pot, we also branded our non-profit organization, Tree Neutral, since it is a "green" gift.
Along with the pot, the soil, and seeds, we also printed a specialty card that fit into the box. One of the luxuries of running a publishing company is that I have very talented, full-time designers who are very creative. They design a new card every year that is both funny and clever. We even get requests from our recipients to buy cards they can customize for themselves for the next year. The point is that it's a person gift that is unlike most other holiday gifts.
The idea of a Thanksgiving gift is great for three reasons, all of which are "Blue Ocean" type ideas. The first is that ours are some of the first gifts received every year. Rather than being one of many that arrive mid-December, our gifts arrive in mid-November in the season of "thanks." They are memorable, if for no other reason than they are arriving before the flood of gifts. Second, we avoid holiday issues. Most of the December holidays are religious in nature and rather than potentially offend or cater to a specific group, we avoid it all together. The spirit of the gift is simple -- we're thanking everyone for a great year. Third, rather than the traditional holiday gifts of food or other consumables, we give something that has a good chance of staying on someone's desk for several months.
This trend is growing in popularity, so I figured I'd get on record as being a visionary for it -- even though I stole it from my dad. If you send gifts during the holidays, consider this approach. You'll be surprised how well it works.