Business relationships

Why Christmas isn’t always the best time to reward clients

- December 1, 2018 3 MIN READ

Are you just part of a mass herd of parties, dinners, gifts, cards and hampers to clients during the Christmas period? Is there a better time to differentiate your brand and thank and reward clients for their loyalty throughout the year?

The Christmas period is comparable to digital saturation and overwhelm. The noise, stress and expectations are exhausting for businesses and solo operators to say the least. Many are in a mad panic to finish work before the 25th along with juggling parties and other life demands. Notwithstanding this time of year can also show up conflict with cultural beliefs, family and social pressures. It’s like juggling balloons at a circus.

Then on top of all of this is the tradition of rewarding clients for their loyalty and custom with gifts, wine, dinners and Christmas parties. It’s also a very profitable time of the year which keeps many sectors afloat (such as gift hampers, floristry and hospitality).

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no scrooge and enjoy the essence and spirit of gratitude, generosity and goodwill during the Christmas season. But equally after decades in business I am not convinced this is the best time of the year if you really want to stand out and show your unique business and personal brand.

Everyone is sending gifts at this time of the year seeking to be memorable and augmenting relationships and the following year’s trade. Just like digital overwhelm and social media postings, it’s often really hard to get cut through.

If you have a key client who is likewise considered a key client to others, it can be a fight for strike through space. And if you have clients at the top corporate end of town it’s often impossible to be truly memorable. Many tier 1 and 2 organisations are swimming in 100’s of gifts, cards, flowers and bottles of wine which drown their offices. And there are only so many parties one human can attend in a day.

You may have a cracker, carefully thought out party planned for top clients, but the clash of dates may result in a low turnout. The noise, space and decision making of which event to attend (which can in itself be so stressful) can just flummox the hell out of most people.

So the answer is to flip the traditional switch and make sure your personal and business brand is standing out in solo fashion (excuse the pun) where you have little or no competition for attention.

And that means gift giving and parties outside of the Christmas period. Your personal brand recognition and the unique value this will afford will be insurmountable. And the benefit on a macro level is that the businesses that rely (and don’t get much sleep) on the three week Christmas window will have a greater financial and physical spread throughout the year.

Here are a few ideas of when to give gifts and have parties outside of Christmas time:

  1. The month/date that you first engaged the client
  2. Anniversary month your client launched their business
  3. Special event/launch of your client
  4. Your business anniversary launch – make it a win-win you all celebrate
  5. Tie in with dates of their favourite charities’ events
  6. Easter – I think this is one of the most under-utilised dates and very few maximise this holiday.
  7. February, May, September, October – these months are often in need of a bit of a mental boost and there is no real competing events/holidays
  8. Birthdays – this is real personal branding 101 – and it’s 1-on-1

These eight ideas are all very personal and not part of the tradition.  And that’s the gold where cut through and being memorable and appreciated really goes up a notch or five.

Whilst you may have missed the boat for changing course this Christmas, there may still be some windows left. If you haven’t committed to gifts and cards, why not email your clients and let them know that you have decided to do something different and will be planning a February event? Or that you won’t be gift giving this year but allocating funds to charities and ask them what their favourite charity is?

Whatever you do this year or next, be different and be brave. Clients will see your unique value and brand in action.  Happy season.