Last Christmas I gave you a pen, the very next day you threw it away.
While it isn’t as catchy as the Wham! Tune, it is likely true. Many B2B companies will send their clients branded merchandise along with some chocolates (½ a chocolate for each manager in the team) and perhaps a generic email. It is usually a last minute gesture done to ensure that your clients know that your business is also populated by humans.
However, this long overdone and empty offering does not represent your business well. The purpose of gift giving is not the excitement that the receiver gets over some inferior quality ballpoint pens that have your logo emblazoned on them, it is about establishing a relationship and thanking your client for the past year of support, growth and development that you have shared. It is about acknowledging that as B2B partners you are on a journey together that binds your businesses in success.
So how do thank your clients without offloading your cheap mouse pads from 2001? As we approach 2020, marketers are focusing on customer experiences. We are seeing that real conversions are made when a client feels that they are more important than the business they represent. By offering your gratitude to clients in creative ways, you can thank all your clients without using your branded material and without offending those who might not share the same holiday season timeline.
A Personal Touch
You don’t need to be extravagant when saying thank you. Many of your clients might even appreciate your lowkey approach to acknowledging the end of another year. (Remember that for many people, the end of the year is a couple of months after December 31st.)
Writing personal emails that touch on your positive interactions for the year is a nice way to let clients know that you are grateful.
To make the gesture even more meaningful, sending a letter or a card (in the appropriate regional market) shows that you value your clients so much that you would take the time to commit pen to paper. It is a small gesture to show your client that they are worth your precious time.
Before any gift-giving takes place that involves an exchange of value, be sure that you understand the limitations on what you can give. The reason you have so many pens, mugs and rulers in your stationary cupboard with logos from various companies you’ve worked with is because of limitations on giving.
However, once you understand what you can do, it is worth taking the time to really research your gift giving. If a B2B client supports a certain charity, making a donation to the charity in their name might be a way you could solidify your relationship.
Why not consider how you can make it more memorable by incorporating something about your business? If you are the manufacture of plastics that are used by your partner to make dog leads, maybe you could organise a dog walk to raise funds for a rescue organisation in the area. It serves to promote your partner and help animals.
Holiday Season Sensitivity
As an online B2B company you likely work with businesses all over the world. It is important that you respect the cultural values of your clients. While your partners in Europe might think it normal to celebrate the end of the year with expensive gifts and depictions of Santa, your clients in Asia might not have the same enthusiasm.
While it is important that you thank your clients for a year of partnership, some clients might place more value on the celebration of your anniversary as partners, or place more weight in your knowing their cultural practices and celebrating the events that represent their cultural values.
For those clients it is not important that you show your success through expensive gifts, but that you show that you understand who you are working with. In such cases a simple email that states your appreciation for their business and your shared interest in a successful 2020 is more than enough.
Navigating the changes in a global marketplace is not as complex as it often seems. Simply removing a filter of red and green baubles with fairy lights will allow you to understand that while you might value this season, for others it is only another page of the calendar.
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