I love the sketch (see below) with Ricky Gervais, Steve Merchant and Karl Pilkington about Christmas presents – it’s that time of the year again and the subject of corporate gifts is upon us!
I remember the first Christmas after we had entered the recession I was dropping a small hamper to a client as a ‘thank you‘ for the business during the year.
The strangest thing happened – he turned me away quite awkwardly and refused to accept the gesture of thanks “not under the circumstances” he said .. “We are in a recession“.
To me I wanted to simply show our appreciation for the work and I felt the gesture was valid regardless of how the economy was going.
That was really the end of the Christmas business gifts as we knew them and even the sending of physical Christmas cards became an exception.
It was noticeable last year as the economy started to improve the gifts and gestures of appreciation started to slowly reappear and I tried to pay particular attention to the ones that impacted on me and the ones that had less impact.
At best the gift gesture should be an opportunity to show appreciation and even strengthen the business relationship – at worst the gesture will make no difference to you and might even make you feel like you are on a big database!
The Thoughtful Gift
This one is a beauty where the person meets you and gives you something they have really thought about, which clearly had significance to you – fantastic!
The Christmas meal
This is a powerful gesture but it is a really time consuming one. With special relationships it is invaluable – if you can break bread together in a relaxed setting then go for it.
The Homemade Gift
On this occasion the person makes something for you … It doesn’t have to be big or extravagant but it was made by them for you. This is an incredibly personal gesture and very powerful.
The Gift for all
This is the gift that you know is one of many. It is great to get a gift but always better if you know it came with special thought and effort. If this is delivered with a personalised card it works.
The Charity Donation
This is definitely a nice idea (it could even be a goat!) but it does rob you of that opportunity of giving something to your client.
The POS gift
The gift of a calendar or diary complete with their logo only works if it is something of genuine quality – if not then it is probably more about them than you .
The Christmas Card
The card alone can be powerful if the sender takes the time to personalise it with a genuine message. Some card is better than no card. Personalising is time consuming but it makes all the difference.
The ‘thank you” message (email/text)
A personalised message (email or letter) with a genuine note of appreciation works well if there is no hint of it being generic. Written well this can be better than any card. This can even work as a text but make sure it is 100% personalised
The generic Christmas card sent by email was a real product of the recession – for me this is just jamming up my inbox and it has very little meaning. Some of these come with a note about Christmas opening hours, which is fine I guess.
I did notice that many of our business relationships weren’t acknowledged in any way – I don’t hold anything against any of these business partners but an opportunity was lost to say thanks and make these relationships stronger.
Christmas is that time of the year that gives you an opportunity for saying thanks and you shouldn’t waste it.
When deciding what gifts to give I wouldn’t worry too much about the monetary value, however I would go along with ‘it’s the thought that counts‘ sentiment and I would add Personalise with a capital ‘P when possible.’
If you want to show genuine appreciation then go for it!
Merry Christmas and thank you for your custom..