Posted by on Sep 1, 2013 in Graphically Speaking | 0 comments

Before the holidays, you might have been thinking about this topic. Things got busy, you ran out of time and maybe you got a card out. You decided that “next year” I’ll get organized sooner! It really isn’t too early to make some plans for showing your clients some love.

What can saying thank you to your customers give you in return? A lot! Competitive advantage. Loyalty. Brand equity. Referrals. A “Thank You” can take the form of an event, meal, or production piece, or a combination of all of those. Customizing your thank you is a creative, exciting project that can motivate you and your staff, as well as remind your customers how much you appreciate their business. What makes an appropriate gift for your business? Here are some things to consider when planning your powerful thank you gift:

Brand

Just sending a card sometimes seems like a lot of effort when it can get lost in the holiday shuffle. Your thank you design can break through the clutter. The key to any thank you gift is to be sure it represents your brand. Although this project will be an expression of gratitude to your customers for the work they do with your company, it should be as unique as your company culture and your relationship with each client.

Saying thank you

The project should be well thought out. Although your “package” may be more complex, there is an art to saying thank you. Key components of the communication portion of the project should include:

  • A formal greeting
  • Expression of your gratitude
  • Discussion their use of the thank you gift if it takes explanation or has instructions
  • Mention the past relationship, invite a future relationship
  • Gracefully thank them again for their business
  • Submit your regards from the company or you personally

Timing

  • It is a good idea to thank your customers any time of the year.
  • The holiday space may be too crowded for your liking. You can differentiate yourselves by picking a holiday outside November, December and January or another day of recognition that makes more sense for your business. For example, if you own a dating service, Valentine’s Day might work better for you. Or, if your industry is “green” related, perhaps Earth Day will be most appropriate.
  • If your particular business does not have a relationship to a yearly holiday or significant annual event, perhaps a charity that you support might have one that you can “borrow” and make a connection between your company and that chosen organization.

Consider your clients

  • You should maintain a sense of appropriateness. Sending Christmas presents to clients of a different faith – or who have no religious or spiritual connection – may not be a good strategy. No single holiday represents the same thing to all of your clients. Respect their feelings and make the gift and timing broad enough not to offend.
  • Are your clients competitors? The use of one client’s products in the thank you will cause friction with the other clients. Pick a thank you project and elements that do not show favoritism in any way.
  • Keep it legal. Is your industry regulated in terms of gift giving and dollar limits? Know your legal obligations and plan accordingly.
  • Define the mailing list and determine if you will also offer the thank you to prospects, vendors, or business partners. This may tweak your copy a little bit but may pay off in the end by influencing all the means by which you get and keep business over time.

Utility

A thank you that can be used daily or prominently displayed in an office or home will have a lasting impression. It also keeps your business top of mind with the customer. Anything that your customers can engage with- sight, sound, touch – is a plus.

Emotional component

All business relationships have some type of personal or emotional content. People will typically do business with you if they like you. Your thank you can express or possess an emotional component that can evoke a response from them and inspire them to remember you in many ways, including fondly, fun, or funky.

In Part Two of this article to be published next month, we’ll give you pointers on budget, planning ahead, content suggestions, how to handle feedback, and also present some case studies.  Stay tuned! And thank you!

Karin Wilson is the creative thinker and designer of Wild Woman Design, LLC, a graphic design firm. She can be reached via her website, www.WildWomanDesign.com, where you can also sign up for her monthly “Graphically Speaking” column – full of tips to help make your graphic design a success. Copyright 2013 Wild Woman Design.