Free stuff! Everyone loves getting gifts or “swag” — the promotional items businesses give out.
The holiday season is the perfect time for your small business to thank your customers or clients by giving them small gifts. But hurry — time’s running out to order anything imprinted with the name or logo of your small business.
“When you give a customer something with your name on it, they accept it as a gift, but it’s still an advertisement,” said Janice Slater, owner of Concepts in Advertising in Jacksonville, Ore.
In my small business, our holiday greeting card is an imprinted, one-page calendar. On a few occasions, I’ve been in a client’s office late in the year and seen our card posted above the desk. How’s that for staying front of mind?
Why should your small business give holiday gifts to customers?
• To say “thank you.”
• To deepen relationships.
• To keep your name in front of customers.
Having your small business logo embossed on a leather product, like a portfolio, keeps your company subtly top of mind.
If you have only a handful of clients — let’s say you’re a marketing consultant — you can spend a bit more on your gifts, perhaps giving an imprinted set of barbecue tools. If you have a lot of customers — you own a dry cleaner, for example — you could pass out something inexpensive, like a calendar. If you’re somewhere in the middle — maybe an accountant or a hairdresser — an imprinted coffee mug holding a Starbucks gift card might be a good choice.
If you think your clients won’t use gifts emblazoned with your company name, you could opt for products that offer a more subtle approach, such as:
• Debossing or embossing without color into a wearable product like a jacket or a leather item like a portfolio to make a hardly noticeable impression of your brand.
• Color-on-color imprinting of your logo that’s one shade darker or lighter than the item’s color will allow your customer to recognize your brand without it standing out to others.
So what’s big in holiday gifts this season?
Electronics: The most desired gifts this season are tech-related, and it’s not just techies who like getting them. Consider these items:
• Portable chargers that offer backup power for smartphones or other devices.
• USB adapters that enable users to plug devices into a car’s power supply.
• USB outlet chargers that provide an extra plug for electric outlets.
• TSA-approved backpacks or sleeves that can help clients swiftly carry their computers or tablets through airport security.
Small promotional items: These are particularly good for businesses that have a lot of customers or want inexpensive handouts for trade shows.
• Calendars are the No. 1 holiday promotional item, year after year. “When a calendar is put up on the wall, your name stays in front of a customer year ’round,” Slater said.
• Bags, especially collapsible bags, are highly valued right now. “California just banned plastic bags and requires stores to charge for paper bags,” said Slater. “That’s a trend happening across the country. Not only will your customers appreciate and use it, they’ll be carrying around an advertisement for you.”
• Business card holders that mount to the back of a cellphone can help your clients network by keeping cards handy.
• Micro-fiber cleaning cloths for phones and eyeglasses are always popular. My company gives these at trade shows, and everybody wants one.
• Water bottles show your green side as more people switch from bottled water to water bottles.
Edibles: People love getting food, but most food gifts don’t keep your name in front of customers, so think of ways to attach an imprinted item to your food gift.
• Coffee items, besides the obvious imprinted mug, might include an imprinted reusable coffee sleeve that also holds business cards.
• Candy keeps your business front of mind if it comes in a jar filled with treats. And in a month or two, you have a sweet reason to call on your customers again — to refill their candy jars.
• Wine or an imprinted wine tote makes a big impression.
• Local food, such as jams, olive oils or cakes, can be spiced up with an imprinted serving implement.
Be creative. Remembering your small business customers during the holidays will make it more likely they’ll remember you throughout the rest of the year.
This story originally ran in USAToday at http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/columnist/abrams/2014/11/07/small-business-columnist-holiday-swag/18558037/