September 2005

Help for Holiday gift giving

Candles and awards Choosing that perfect holiday gift for an employee or client is a difficult task.  Here are several points to remember when going through your holiday list.

Build a relationship!

The holidays present a perfect time of year to strengthen relationships.  Reflect back on the year and remember that each employee or client is a person who helps you do your job. It is important to have a healthy relationship between yourself or your company and each of these people. Show them how much they mean to you. 

Why is it important to give meaningful gifts to employees?

The simple answer is to show your employees how much you appreciate them.  Studies show that the cost of retaining existing employees is much less than hiring new ones.  Studies also show that employees that feel valued are more productive. Throughout the year, and especially during the holidays, remember that your employees are your most precious assets.  Show your employees how much you appreciate them.  When you show your appreciation, your employees will regard themselves and their job more positively.

Why should you remember your clients during the holidays?

The same rule is true for clients as for employees -- the cost of acquiring new customers is greater than the cost of retaining existing ones.  Without your clients where would you be? Show them that you remember them and truly appreciate their business during the holiday season.

When should you buy for employees or clients?

Gifts of recognition and achievement can be given at any time of the year, at any specific milestone. But the holidays are a great time to show that you care. Start early! Give yourself at least eight weeks because production and shipping times lengthen during holidays. When you give a gift around the holidays, you want it to be memorable.  Create a lasting relationship with your employee or client.  A holiday gift will thank them for their service throughout the year.

Observe gift etiquette.

The number one rule in gift giving, especially around the holidays, is not to offend! Unless you know the specific tastes and religious affiliations of all of your employees and clients, take a cautious approach. To avoid offensiveness, choose a gift that symbolizes appreciation.

Pinpoint or shotgun?

Pizza boxIn a recent case study, a business owner sent personalized pizza cutters in custom-made boxes to a dozen key decision-makers that he wanted to get appointments with. The boxes, which contained the pizza cutters and a letter, were delivered just before lunch along with (and here's the kicker) a real pizza from a well-known pizza chain. He liked to say that the whole promotion cost him about $350, including the tip. Result: all 12 called and scheduled appointments.

Why spend nearly $30 per recipient on a promotion? Why not send out 200 or 300 items that cost a dollar or two apiece and increase your potential response twenty-fold?

It's a fair question. And there are good arguments supporting both strategies. In the case above, the recipients were marketing executives at local firms who had been specifically chosen because of their business potential. Of the 12 appointments he got, 10 firms ended up doing business with him. He generated about a half million dollars in revenue from that initial $350 investment.

The point is that a blanket approach isn't always the answer. Most people think of logoed items in terms of sheer volume — thousands of pens or calendars, hundreds of mugs, calculators or t-shirts — and that's fine, but it's not the only way to spend your money. Sometimes it makes more sense to specifically target key recipients and spend a higher amount on fewer people. It's the same budget, but the results can be dramatically different.

Blood Donors Respond

Route 56 Key tagThis summer, the Pennsylvania/New Jersey regional branch of the American Red Cross invited people to get their kicks on Route 56. Huh?

That's the name of the summer blood drive campaign just completed. During the campaign, all donors receiveed a Route 56-logoed Red Cross keytag, and the chance to win a year's supply of gas. When people came in to give blood, they got a keytag and a scratch-off game piece that gave them a chance to win T-shirts, visors, coffee mugs, or the grand prize of $2,000 in gas money.

The campaign was particularly important because it helped increase blood donations during the summer, a time when levels are typically become dangerously low. “This was our emergency summer campaign,” says Jennifer Lawser, account manager for blood services at the regional office. )“In the summertime, people are on vacation, kids are home from school, and nobody really thinks about donating blood.”

The fun auto-related theme was a big hit during a time of record-high gas prices. Donations increased more than 16% over the prior year. By the way, the free gas was donated in a nice public relations move by Lukoil Corp. “Most people thought it was a great incentive. Others felt it wasn't the reason they donated, but it was nice to walk away with a token of appreciation,” Lawser says.“Either way, we won.”

Just For Grins

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