The holidays can be a great way to reinforce your relationship with your clients… or a land-mine. Do you send a gift? If so, what? How much do you spend? What will stride that fine line between thoughtful and self-promotional? While it’s up to you to choose just the right thoughtful client gift, we do have some tips and tricks for anyone struggling with this big holiday question.
Client Giving Tips
Personalize every gift
How well do you know your client? When dreaming up client gifts this year, think of ideas that will show your client you pay attention and value the continued business relationship. Even if you decide to get all of your clients the same gift, personalize each one with a handwritten card.
Don’t limit the holidays to December
You’re thankful or your clients, right? Then maybe a Thanksgiving card or gift would be appropriate. Think outside the box to delight your customers this holiday season.
Be culturally sensitive
And we’re not just talking corporate culture. Be sensitive to people of different faiths and values. For example, avoid sending a leather business card holder to a client you know is Hindu or a Christmas ham to a client you know to be Jewish.
Reach out to past clients
The holidays can be downtime for many client-driven companies. Don’t limit your holiday outreach to current clients. Use this opportunity to send a card or a small gift to past clients and rekindle the relationship.
Client Giving Taboos
All but the prickliest of clients will accept gifts in the spirit they’re intended – even if they have no use for a French press or a pound of Argentinian cookies. But keep these client giving taboos in mind to ensure your client is truly delighted.
Unless you and your client have discussed his love for dry gins, be wary of alcohol. You never know who’s recovering, or even has religious or cultural objections to the hard stuff.
Watch out for perceived insults
While offered with the best of intentions, a gift card for self-improvement, such as for a spa or a new hairstyle, may be perceived as a slight.
Keep it professional
There’s a fine line between giving your client a thoughtful gift and giving them an intimate gift.
Avoid things like cologne or fancy jewelry – these gifts are usually traded between spouses, not business colleagues. It should go without saying that anything sexual or risqué is a no go.
Deducting Client Gifts on Your Taxes In general, client gifts are tax deductible as long as they were given for the purpose of promoting your business. Gifts to employees are deductible, but to the extent they exceed $25 you must calculate payroll taxes and include the amount in W-2 earnings.