Thoughtful gifts |

Thoughtful gifts

Tierra Griffiths

How many catalogs for corporate holiday cards and gifts end up on your desk or your assistant’s desk this time of year? And, be honest, how many times do you ask someone in your office to “just order something’? You know you need to do it send client cards and gifts, bonus your employees and hold parties. But year after year you might start to dread coming up with new ideas which lead to boring gestures that not only get lost in the mix, but can end up defeating your purpose of showing appreciation.

So, this year, instead of doing a generic “something” why not do something extraordinary and use this time of year to stand out?

As the gifting season is almost upon us, consider some of the following ideas to get the most marketing bang for your holiday buck:

* Custom Cards. Rather than ordering a holiday card with a holly wreath or silver bells out of a catalog like all your competitors and almost every other company your clients and vendors will receive a card from, why not design a holiday card unique to your company? This not only shows your clients you’re thinking of them during the holidays, it’s an excellent opportunity to reinforce your company’s strengths and unique attributes and reinforce your brand. For example, last year for a client of ours who is one of the state’s longest standing law firms, we designed a card that had a visual of Santa Claus’ suit on the front and read, “We’ve been around so long we handled Santa’s suit.” It stood out from the sea of catalog cards and was consistent with the firm’s marketing campaign. And, for another client this year, who holds the world’s largest pet products trade show, we designed a card with an illustration showing Santa shopping for pet gifts at the pet expo demonstrating that the expo is where everyone goes for the latest and greatest of pet products.

* Thanksgiving cards. Another way to get your card to stand out from the rest is by sending a Thanksgiving or New Year’s card instead of a Christmas card. That way everyone receives your card either long before or long after the masses.

* Fourth of July Gifts. While holiday gifts are always appreciated (and at the very least, re-gifted), how many food baskets does any company really need during the same three week period? So, why not consider sending independence-themed gifts around Fourth of July, celebratory champagne around the New Year, and while too late for this year, something to consider for next year Halloween candy instead of Christmas chocolates?

* Gifts that Brand. Again, foregoing your catalog addiction, put some thought into unique client gifts that say something about your company, are consistent with your branding and advertising, or recognize attributes and interests of the person or company on the receiving end. If this requires too much creativity on your part, use it as an excuse to have a company brainstorm session and serve something fun to the staff. This is good for team building, and you might be surprised to find, depending on what you serve, everyone has fun! For example, an interior designer could offer to decorate one of her largest client’s office for the holidays or give pre-decorated artificial trees, a media company could rent out a theater for a special movie viewing for their clients or any company could give coffee table books that relate to their industry.

* Go Big. If you go by the 80/20 rule and 20 percent of your clients bring in 80 percent of your business, treat your biggest clients right this holiday season and lavish them with nice gifts, expensive wines, gift certificates to upscale restaurants, or this year’s hottest tech gift.

* Just Because. Most of us agree that unexpected gifts often mean the most. With that in mind, consider sending your clients gifts “just because.” They’ll really know you appreciate their business. Also, remembering birthdays and acknowledging accomplishments goes a long way in demonstrating genuine interest in your clients.

* Going to the Dogs. How about a gift that will make your clients drool, or at least make their beloved pets drool? Nearly three-quarters of Americans own pets and most of them consider their pets a part of the family. Giving a gift to your clients’ pets will not only make you stand out, it will show you care enough to take the time to find out a personal interest of theirs.

* Be First. As an agency that strives for first ideas and concepts, we make it a point to hold our holiday party early in the season (typically the first week of November). That way we don’t conflict with other events during the busy season and we avoid having our guests feel partied-out.

* Throw in a Theme. When it comes to employee parties, consider giving yours a twist with a theme. Depending on your company’s culture, you might think about having an “ugly holiday sweater” party. Themes can add a new element of fun to your party and put everyone at ease by not having to worry about whether their outfit is nice enough.

* Shopping on Company Time. In lieu of a company party on an evening (which can cut into employees’ personal time during one of the most time-pressed seasons of the year) you might think about something to alleviate stress. Hire a masseuse to come to the office for a day of relaxing massages. Or, depending on the size of your staff, close up shop, rent a bus, serve something fun, give everyone bonuses and take the crew out for a day or half-day of holiday shopping. This gives them the opportunity to get their shopping done when the stores aren’t so busy and they have to worry about taking care of the family. And, it eliminates one more holiday to-do.

Here’s to making your company and employees shine this holiday season!

Tierra Griffiths is a former broadcast journalist and a partner in the Nevada based public relations and advertising firm, MassMedia.