This time last year I wrote an article about the 7 worst gifts to give your customers, with the bottom line being that it is time to move beyond the cheap and nasty pen with your logo on it. In fact it is pretty much time to move beyond anything with your logo on it when it comes to giving gifts.
So what makes a great gift? I think there are a few elements to consider: it should be relevant to the individual receiving it, it should be about them not you, it should show that you value their business and it should show that you have put some serious thought (and ideally effort) into finding the perfect gift to say thank you.
Over the years I have given and received a lot of gifts, and without wanting to sound ungrateful, most were terrible. They were cheap products with a company logo, that served no real practical use--imagine if people thought of your company the same way?
Here are 9 types of gifts that I think send a great message and help to build a relationship.
1. An experience
A friend of mine, who is a great gift giver, always gives gifts that are experiential for his clients. Over the years he has given everything from dive trips with Great White Sharks, fighter jet flights, a luxury car to use for a day and a cooking class with a celebrity chef to mention just a few. He believes that giving experience based gifts to his clients and to the people who refer him to others has been what has made his business so successful. Now not all experiences need to cost a lot, hunt around and you can find some very affordable and very cool experiences that can be purchased as gifts.
2. A considered book
I might be biased as an author, but I still believe that a well-considered book, which means it is totally relevant for the recipient, is an excellent gift. I do receive a lot eBooks as gifts and whilst I do appreciate the thought, this is nowhere near as memorable or meaningful to me as a physical copy of a book. Gifts should be tactile in some way to have maximum benefit.
3. A smart gift basket
I was pretty harsh about gift baskets in the past, but my point of clarity around this was "a lousy" gift basket, filled with weird exotic produce that you will never use and in many cases has ended up in a gift basket because no one would buy it otherwise. This is very different to a smart, well thought out gift basket filled with relevant, customized products. Think about the person (or people) who are receiving the basket--what do they love, what do you joke about, where is their business at now, where are they heading, what are their challenges--consider all of this and fill the basket with relevant gifts that will put a smile on their face.
4. A totally unique gift
One of the best presents I have ever received was from my IT consultant. He had a bobble head made up of me (which now features in my promotional material and even on my website). It was funny, it took considerable effort and time on his behalf to make it happen and it was absolutely unique. Think of something totally unique, that is one hundred percent about the person receiving it. I've also received hand painted t shirts, other artwork, framed photos from clients with us in the image at a specific event, a short film made by some clients and lots of other clever ideas. These gifts make for very special memories.
5. An impulsive gift
I like to think of these gifts as the ones where the customer has no idea or expectation of receiving a gift. As an example, something as simple as the owner of a coffee shop giving you your coffee to say "thanks' for your business. In many ways the impulsive gifts are the most meaningful and sincere, and they can and should be used often.
6. A well being gift
These are the really nice, personal gifts that create connection. If you buy a gift voucher for a day of spa pampering, it would be hard for your client not to feel a wonderful sense of gratitude regarding your gift. You gave them a day of indulgence, being pampered, and you helped them to feel good physically and mentally.
7. A membership
A few years back a friend of mine bought me a 3-month membership to a Yoga studio. I had expressed an interest in doing Yoga, but had never done anything about it. After receiving his gift I had no excuse so I started doing Yoga, loved it, and it helped me to get much healthier in many ways. I recently received a gift subscription to Dollar Shave Club--which was a great gift from a client of mine who loved the concept. This was a fun gift, totally appropriate and well thought out.
8. A magazine subscription
Over the years I have bought many subscriptions to magazines for my clients as gifts and I always get fantastic feedback for a few reasons. Firstly there are so many magazines to choose from it is generally easy to find one that is really relevant to the recipient. Secondly, every month, regular as clockwork, another issue keeps arriving, as a warm reminder of my gift--subscriptions really are the gift that keeps on giving.
9. A world changing gift
I recently received a thank you letter and a gift from a coaching client of mine, which really made me stop and take notice. They had made a donation on my behalf to a charity that provides food and water for people in developing nations. The donation they made for me meant that 500 children were fed and given water for a month. Now that is a pretty special feeling. When buying a gift like this the real opportunity is to know what causes really resonate with the recipient--make it as personal as possible.