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Thinking of cancelling Christmas?

If you think this year’s economic climate gives you an excuse not to invest in customer thank you gifts or Christmas greetings, then think again. While your customers and key contacts will be expecting you to be prudent, they still need to know you care and really value their business.

You don’t have to break the bank to say thank you. A small token specific to a customer or client’s interests will speak volumes over a more costly ‘one for all’ option. This year make ‘it’s the thought that counts’ your mantra for your season’s greetings.

One size never fits all

When you look at your customer or client base, different accounts will vary in importance to your business. Importance may not lie in the amount of money they invest, although this will probably be one consideration. You may have a customer who refers lots of business or who is a good name to have on the books, as it stimulates others to choose you.

With budgets being tight, now’s not the time to be fair, and use the same approach equally across all accounts. It’s unlikely that your customers will get together and swap notes on what you gave this year. They’ve got other things on their mind. So if you are looking to protect revenue for the future, consider the value of each client/customer to your business now and looking forward. This is a great opportunity to devote some thinking time to how business from each account could develop over the next year. And then thank each contact in an appropriate way for the value they represent.

A match made in heaven

We all know when we receive something that has been mass produced and mailed out. We also know when we receive something that had us in mind. So for your most important contacts, think about their tastes and try and match the ‘thank you’ to those. Yes you will have some who will be content with a card; others will be delighted with chocolate. You may have a customer who prefers to be wined and dined and another who would prefer a ‘good cause’ gift (especially for their favourite charity). Consider the hobbies and passions of those customers or clients who mean a lot to you and look for DVDs, a book, or even a day out relating to that obsession.

This may involve a bit more brain-power, but the result will be a thank you that really stands out from the rest and will be remembered well into 2009. You’ll probably find this approach gentler on your bank account than doing the same thing for everyone. The ‘it’s the thought that counts’ approach speaks volumes and if it’s something specific to them, your contact won’t care if you spent £5 or £500 – the fact that it has them in mind will mean so much more.

Bring out your branding

If you’re going for branded gifts or cards do make sure the quality and experience they give adds to your image, rather than contradicts it. The best branded tokens are those that reflect the ‘personality’ of the business they come from. This ‘personality’ is the one perceived by the customers or clients of that organisation, rather than how it views itself. So think about what is fun or good about your business, what customers and clients like about your approach. What thank you item/message would tie in well with that perception?

Need some ideas?

Here are some ‘Santa’s elves’ we’ve used in the past. Each helped us to deliver a ‘thank you’ that stood out. Their quality was good and their customer service made the job a whole lot easier:

1. Hotel chocolat – for high quality chocolate gifts that suit all pockets. These guys are great at handling different corporate orders and you can get your branding on the goods too. Their delivery tracking and alert system was really helpful.

2. The good gift guide – from saving a tiger, buying a vital resource for a village in a developing country to sponsoring a day out for deprived children in the UK – this site has all sorts of ‘good cause’ gifts for all budgets. Their ‘stocking fillers’ were very good value for money.

3. Trees Direct For something a little larger and more permanent this is a good option.

4. Vouchers – if a certain experience would create a more memorable thank you, think about sending a voucher. Here are some unusual ones – contemporary family photographic portraits – http://www.fresh-face.co.uk/, steam engine rides for all ages – http://www.watercressonline.co.uk/section.php?xSec=134 , and for other ideas see http://www.intotheblue.co.uk/

5. Something unique? We’ve come across a couple of design agencies who are great at devising innovatively branded promotional materials – check out The UP Agency and Breeze

6. Email Christmas Greetings – there’s a great agency we’ve come across, who have currently have an offer on personalised electronic Christmas Greetings – see Vuture

7. Tanners Wine Merchants . A wine merchant who has brought out a number of individual bottle gift packages. The quality is excellent.

8. Chococo – Wonderful fresh chocolates that your client will love – fantastic gift boxes.  Women Unlimited readers are entitled to a 10% discount.  Just enter the code WUNLTD at the checkout.  They deliver anywhere in the UK

Get your skates on

And finally, if you are saying thanks this season don’t let the delivery sabotage the sentiment. Check out the last posting dates at Royal Mail or ask your courier service when you need to dispatch so that things arrive on time. Beware, it’s often sooner than you think!

Have a very Happy Christmas and a good 2009.

___________

About the Author:

Michelle Daniels is the Managing Director of Extended Thinking. An experienced and effective business development and marketing strategist, Michelle has built a successful career increasing top line growth for service businesses and organisations. She helps her clients turn their marketing, business development and thought leadership plans into reality with her ‘hands on’ support and practical advice. A prolific writer, Michelle also combines creative flair with business nous to produce highly effective results. She has written (and ghostwritten) for many professional and business publications and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and professional services marketing group.

About Extended Thinking
Extended Thinking is a hands-on marketing and business development consultancy. Bringing together great minds and great ‘doers’, we help our clients devise and implement plans that achieve real business growth. Our clients come from a wide variety of backgrounds and sectors, but invariably are those who are too busy or lack the resources to action their marketing and business development plans. We roll our sleeves up and muck in to free them up to do what they really want to do and are good at doing.

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About Michelle Daniels

An experienced and effective business development and marketing strategist, Michelle has built a successful career increasing top line growth for service businesses and organisations. She helps her clients turn their marketing, business development and thought leadership plans into reality with her ‘hands on’ support and practical advice. A prolific writer, Michelle also combines creative flair with business nous to produce highly effective results. She has written (and ghostwritten) for many professional and business publications and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and professional services marketing group. Extended Thinking is a hands-on marketing and business development consultancy. Bringing together great minds and great ‘doers’, we help our clients devise and implement plans that achieve real business growth. Our clients come from a wide variety of backgrounds and sectors, but invariably are those who are too busy or lack the resources to action their marketing and business development plans. We roll our sleeves up and muck in to free them up to do what they really want to do and are good at doing.

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One comment

  1. I guess we should start thinking about xmas soon, its only 100 or so days to go. I like the idea of buying a tree for someone. It will last a while.

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