Sunday, September 16, 2012

Creative, Inexpensive, and BIG Value Marketing Gift Ideas

"Tis the season to be jolly!" A great attitude is easy to have when you design your gifts with a lot of thought and don't allow the experience take you to the cleaners.
One of the traditions I like at this time of year is remembering all the people that were there for me this past year. Especially those that didn't receive anything in return for it -- in the smallest or largest way.
Meaningful gift giving does not have to be expensive. In fact, some of the most precious gifts are the ones that cost very little, but mean a great deal because of the time and effort it took to select, or create, and mail.
Here are eight ideas I have used over the last few years. You can use these as Christmas gifts; add them to your "leave-behind" marketing package, a referral thank you, or "thanks for helping me" gift.
It does make a difference if your logo or advertising information is on the gift. It does affect the perceived value on their part and can make a difference in your relationship. Make the choice to add your information or leave it off with their perception in mind. Remember, marketing is all perception and not product or service.
1. Purchase discontinued note card sets from Hallmark and other card shops during the year. If you call and ask your nearest store as to the time of year when they discount "previous season" items, they will gladly tell you. You can save from 50% to 75% on these items.
2. Create a logo candy jar. You can purchase candy jars with different seasonal markings. Then create a stencil with your company logo or web site address (I prefer the web site address). You can buy the stencil supplies and the empty candy jars at your local craft store like MJ Design, Michaels, or online. They sometimes have the mailing boxes to match. Add a bow with your business card. Keep the jar nice so they want to keep it out in the open for that season. Jars for the Easter season are great with the miniature eggs in them and are not likely to get completing jars from other suppliers. After dinner mints are great for the contents. If you return frequently, bring a refill with you.
3. Give a business journal. Borders and Barnes and Noble have all sorts of sizes and designs. For business journals or marketing journals, I usually buy the 8 ½ x 11 size (usually under $10) at Borders and then I write three or four marketing ideas in the journal that specifically apply to them.
4. Give a gift they can take home to their child(ren). Most business or marketing gifts are for everyone at the company or for them. Sometimes giving without a "marketing angle" attached increases the impact. Especially if you remember their child's birthday.
5. Create a family cookbook with 10 or so of your favorite (or personal family) recipes. Add your contact information on the back. Use the software, Clickbook ( to transfer it from your word processing software into a real nice booklet fast and easy.
6. Give them a subscription to one of the favorite magazines. I love writer's magazines and writing, so receiving something I am so passionate about along with the gift of learning is perfect for me. If you get two, call the company and turn it into a two-year subscription. You can add to your card this idea if they already have a subscription. Do they have a hobby? Do they have a goal or working on a particular project? There are tons of magazines out there. You can also add to the card a list of web sites they can find more information on the topic. You can send a card with the subscription information in it separately so they know to expect it and to contact you if they don't receive it.
7. If you have great penmanship or creative on the computer, buy blank note cards and add their name on the front of the each card, like "From the desk of..." "A personal note from..." The fact that you took the time always makes an impact. Want to add a little more? Place a stamp on each envelope for them.
8. If they have a home office and you are into crafts, cross-stitch a wall calendar holder. It has a hook, nice border that shows past the large calendar size and business card sewn in with a place for them to hang their favorite wall calendar or you can send them a calendar with it the first year.
It is normal to value the gift to the value of the client/customer. You can just send everyone the same gift or you can match the gift value to the value you received from him or her.
Don't forget your bartering exchanges or the people that just "opened your doors."

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