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A Very Business Christmas: A Guide to Shopping for Clients

The holiday season is a great time to build and foster relationships with vendors and #clients. We’ve mentioned hand-written cards - but let’s say you want to be extra festive by buying gifts for certain individuals important to your #business. We say, good idea!

Here are a few guidelines to help you show your appreciation to important clients and vendors while not breaking your budget or committing and #holiday gift faux pas.

Don’t overspend/be fair

Consumer culture runs rampant during the holiday season, with tons of commercials every day telling you to spend, spend, spend. It sounds like a cliché, but the idea of “it’s the thought the counts” does ring true - especially if the recipient is not expecting anything from you.

A pleasant surprise from your #business - whether it be box seats to their favorite sporting event valued at thousands of dollars, or just a handwritten card with a candy cane - will do wonders for that relationship. The idea is to make sure these important connections know that you’re thinking of them during the #holiday season and that you value the relationship. Don’t turn “valuing the relationship” into “trying to put a dollar amount on the significance of this client/vendor/business partner”.

Who you should gift and who could be left off the list?

This is a tougher question that really can only be answered by you. No #business sends gifts to every single person they interact with; but most businesses will get a gift for their most important client. You decide what your threshold is.

The best answer is probably to come up with a #budget for what you’re willing to spend on client gifts in general, and then work within that budget. By process of elimination, you’ll arrive at the clients that you could afford to spend on, and clients that it might be more prudent to just send a nice card to.

Make sure your gift giving is proportionate.

Let’s say you decide that your business is in a position where it can and should get a #holiday gift to every client/vendor you work with. Great! Be careful, however, to make sure you keep your gift giving in proportion. A smaller client, while important, probably doesn’t deserve the same gift as a big spender. Remember, it’s the thought that make the difference! Small gifts do work in this scenario. That being said…

Try to mix it up.Buying a slew of fruit baskets or wine for everyone is convenient, but you have to consider that a lot of those clients might end up throwing away or not using a generic gift. Not to pinch pennies, but if you’re going to spend money on gifts, you’d like to make sure that they’re somewhat useful to the client.

Instead of opting for a “one-size-fits-all” approach, consider a few different gift ideas and send one of your options to each client on your list. That way, you’re not sending wine to non-drinkers. It’ll also show the client that you considered them individually as opposed to just checking off a box by sending them something you probably ordered in bulk. Making the connection seem #personal - even when it isn’t entirely - is important.

Brand, if you can. The big #holiday gift win is to get a few simple gifts, catered to the lifestyles and relationships you have, and get them made with some sort of #branding or #logo attached. Calendars, notebooks, pens, coffee mugs, beer mugs - those are great holiday gifts that can be relatively low in cost and can also be easily branded with your business’ logo! Getting a small gift to keep your business top of mind during the holidays - that also keeps your business top of mind every time your client uses it - is a win-win!

Most importantly, do not forget that it IS the thought that counts! The goal should not be to impress your clients or to win them over. You’re not trying to buy affection (most people can tell when you do that); you’re trying to make a small and simple gesture to let your business partners know that you’re thinking of them and that you value them and their relationship.

A small gesture like that can go a long way in creating and fostering lasting business relationships between your #smallbusiness and its community.

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