“A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.”
― Seneca, Moral Essays: Volume III
Business to CUSTOMER
As a loyal customer to a few favourite brands, I subscribe for news feeds on their websites. On my birthday and around Christmas and New Year I get the occasional email with good wishes and a small discount here and there. In fact, my inbox gets cluttered and more than often I ignore these emails and forget about them straight away. Do not get me wrong, I do appreciate that a computer program remembers my birthday, it is kind of nice to know that it is not only your parents who know your day of birth. Even though I appreciate the good wishes, they do not make any impact on me as a customer. The fact that there are so many at the same time turns these emails to something annoying that needs to be deleted from my inbox.
What if we slightly change that custom and turn it into a marketing strategy. With the same effort, the impact on the customers will be different. First, we stop sending the emails on a birthday or a popular holiday. Instead, start sending the wishes at a week or two before. Completely out of the blue for the customers, which makes a huge impression. This sort of surprise and will make the customers talk about what the brand did for them. Word of mouth is still and will always be the best advertisement for any organisation.
The other advantage is that there will be no other company that would have done this for them on that day. Or even instead of doing it on birthday the brand can do it on the day the customer signed up on their website. It could write something like:
“Happy one-year anniversary”
“It has been one year since you signed up! To show you our appreciation for your loyalty and support we would like to give you
on any of our products!”
This will make the customer like the brand more and will be more likely to take action and take advantage of the discount.
Business to business
This was the business to customer strategy, but what about when it is business to business. This is where this strategy works best. When it is business to business, companies are much more careful with their clients and should pay more attention to detail, because the stakes are higher. Every company should make a little more effort, to go the extra mile and get to know their business customers better. Who the managers are and more importantly who are the people working directly with them. Who exactly is on the other side of the keyboard or phone during their correspondence? What are their interests in? Do they have a family? What hobbies they have? This information is priceless because you can make them a gift that will touch them and that will cost you little.
Take this as an example that should be familiar to most. At my day job, like many other workplaces, I am sure, colleagues exchange gifts for Christmas. There is usually a limit on the price of the gifts that can be exchanged. This limit is usually as low as €20-€40 for example, which limits the choices. So if you are working in a place like this, think of all the times you got a tie if you are a man or a cheap make upset if you are a girl. This for me is worse than getting no present. It shows no effort whatsoever.
What I like to do is to make the effort and find out what my colleague likes or what their hobbies are. It is not hard at all and it only takes a few minutes and a few questions to find that out. When you know what they like you need another 10 minutes and device with internet access. Amazon and eBay will have something not expensive and in the theme of their interests. Click buy and you are done. On the day of the exchange, you will see their reaction and you will know you made the right decision not to buy these funny pair of socks.
The effect on your clients will be the same, except the return of an investment will be greater. You will earn their respect and loyalty. When the competition comes in and tries to steal them from you, your clients will remember the small gesture you did for them and will know how much you appreciate them.
If you decide to take that approach and spend some money on gifts to show your clients what they mean to you and your business, make sure not to go to the other extreme either. Do not overspend and give them something really expensive. An expensive watch sends to a client will not be taken as an appreciation. It will be taken as:
“If they send me such an expensive gift, they must want something from me!”
Or it will be taken as a form of a kiss ass and no one likes a kiss ass. Expensive gifts will also make people uncomfortable and will make them feel like they owe you a lot, which is not good either.
The gift should be small but thoughtful. If the clients like to cook, send them a set of knives for example. If they like sports, send them some memorabilia of their favourite team. If they like music send them an album of their favourite band or tickets to a concert. Be creative and thoughtful and the return will be greater than your investment.
As cheesy as it sounds – it really is the small things that matter. Not just in life, but in business as well. The power of gifts is low cost and powerful marketing strategy! Use it wisely.