Client Christmas gifts: hot or not?

by Peter Crocker

Up until last year I thought giving clients a gift at Christmas – or at least a card – was a sure-fire winner. It turns out there is a very passionate divide on the subject amongst business owners.

In response to my newsletter last year called four unique corporate gift ideas, 75 commenters jumped in to have their say.

Karen from Melbourne was supportive of gifts. “We have given gift-wrapped poinsettias and boxes of cherries and both have been received appreciatively. But it really is the thought that counts, so give something.”

Peter from Byron Bay didn’t agree. “I don’t send gifts or cards. If my clients and business associates don’t already realise how much I appreciate them then I have a serious problem! Be careful the silly season doesn’t end up making you look stupid!”

Even the seemingly win-win charitable gift drew criticism from quite a few people, including Sarah from Brisbane.

“While I’m all for sponsoring children / saving the environment etc. I’m afraid I think it’s tacky when businesses do this and then shout about it via their seasonal messages. If you genuinely want to thank me for my business, send a personalised message or gift.”

So this year I’m just not sure anymore.

Arguments for Christmas gifts: 

  • It’s a great way to show appreciation to those who have supported your business. 
  • It’s a good excuse to stay top of mind with your prospects for the year ahead. 
  • It’s a relatively low cost way to make a big impression – everyone loves a freebie! 
  • Why not give a charitable goat and everyone wins?

Arguments against Christmas gifts: 

  • There’s enough stuff in the world already. 
  • It’s a waste of time, money and bad for the environment. 
  • In the flurry of holidays no-one remembers who gave them which bottle of champagne. 
  • Religious celebrations are a personal thing, not a marketing opportunity.

So what’s the bottom line?

From a business point of view, I still believe a thoughtful and creative gift and/or hand-written card at the end of the year is worth the effort. For me the key is to make it personal.

Where do you stand on giving gifts and/or cards to clients? Give it to me straight.

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