The Art of the Awesome Business Gift
We're not talking 20-cent leave-behinds.
You don't put this in a bowl at a street fair, and you don't drop it through the business mail slot and move on.
You're not, in fact, giving this to anyone who does not already know you.
This is a GIFT. It is a Thank You. It is a Business Valentine.
It might be a Reward for a Referral, or just for a great business relationship.
That's why you spend $40. Or $60. Or $260. Not that the dollar amount is truly important, but the thoughfulness you display by consciously choosing, purchasing, packaging and/or personalizing, and then delivering, a gift of obvious character sets your entire relationship apart from those people involved in the daily ins and outs of your client's day.
Every quarter you should be identifying your top clients or colleagues. It shouldn't be hard, they're the people you see probably all the time, or work with on a daily basis. If not face-to-face, it's a relationship that is central to your business success. You know who they are.
A fine and thoughtful business gift or a thank you gesture serves a couple of purposes.
It first of all shows the client that you truly value them. I have two very successful colleagues who, not coincidentally, both exude the same attitude to their clients. They LOVE them. They let them know, regularly, with nothing required in return, that they appreciate the relationship they've forged.
This is far more important than you may realize. These people have relationships with their co-workers that are facilitated in-house, through daily contact, retreats and social events, even carpooling and lunching. Your relationship with these people, too, is just that, a relationship. They trust you, professionally, and part of that is their familiarity with you and your ability to work with them personally.
None of this is a substitute for being competent, and professional, and serving your clients' actual needs, providing solutions. This, point of fact, reinforces your recognition of the value of the client and appreciation for their trust in you.
The second effect of a gesture of this stature is to create a talking point outside of the business minutia. Put simply it's a chance to talk about other stuff. The photo above is a Swiss Army brand USB Flash memory stick. The USB stick is removable, and it actually replaces the knife blade. You can take it on the plane; note also the pen included. You are guaranteed that at various times after the client has taken possession of this thing, that he or she will relate some random story about using it or showing it off somewhere, the way any two day-to-day co-workers might relate on a given day when not talking business.
Build those relationships, but just as importantly, acknowledge your appreciation of them.