It is that time of year again when I rack my brain to figure out what to give some of our best clients and industry partners as holiday gifts. I really like to make our clients feel special. While we try to do that every day with great service, I also like to provide a little “thank you” at the end of the year, as well. Here are some rules of thumb I try to keep in mind and following that, a couple of great ideas for this year.
1.Keep it relevant. Whatever you give as a gift to clients should be relevant to our industry. Don’t come out of left field and send something decorative or an item meant for the kitchen. It should be something that makes sense coming from a technology professional.
2.Don’t risk offending. I know it can seem like a great idea to send a bottle of wine or champagne, but make sure you know the people well. The last thing you want to do is send that to someone who does not drink or is a recovering alcoholic.
3.Keep the cost reasonable. I’ve had “great ideas” in the past that ended up costing me a fortune. Sending a $300 20-inch TV sounds like a brilliant idea, especially for those projects where clients spent tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, but do that for just 20 clients and all of a sudden there’s a $6,000 credit card bill showing up the following month.
4.Keep it DIY. Your client shouldn’t have to spend $500 to have you install and set-up a gift that you sent them.
In the past, I have given Apple TVs (in retrospect that probably failed Rule #4 for many clients), Bluetooth speakers and gift cards (iTunes, Amazon, Best Buy, etc – again, try to keep it relevant to the industry). It isn’t easy coming up with gifts that meet all four criteria above, however, this year I think I have nailed it. I have two great presents for clients this year.
The first is the Amazon Echo or Echo Dot, which is affordable, easy to set-up for self-contained use (not integrated into a control system) and a lot of fun for clients to use. Additionally, while the client can set it up herself, it could have the ancillary benefit of leading to add-on work for integrating into a home automation system.
The second is the Sonos Play1. While this is a bit more expensive, it is great for a client who had to cut back on budget and didn’t wire that master bathroom for music. Again, there might be an ancillary sale of adding Sonos to the whole-home audio system down the road, which doesn’t hurt either!
Similarly, for industry partners like architects, contractors, designers, and real estate agents, we like to stay top of mind and provide them with a thank you gift for the work we have done together this year and in years past. Both of the gifts above are great for that audience, as well. And if I know the person well, I will send a bottle of champagne with a nice note; this is really easy to do, just go to your local wine store with a list of names and addresses and a generic note. They will put the note into all of the packages and deliver them for you, for a small fee of course.
Just like shopping for your family and friends, identify your budget and stick to it. You can find great gifts at all price points and make your clients and partners feel appreciated this holiday season.