I dunno about you, but I’ve been getting a lot of catalogs at my house lately.
Target’s toy catalog (so our kid will know what to ask Santa for), Pier 1 (so our holiday table is decorated to within an inch of its life), and J. Crew (so we can spend the rest of our money on “ready-to-party style”).
But because my husband and I both have our own businesses, we also get a lot of “swag” catalogs, full of promotional items that people give away at conferences or send as gifts to their clients… mugs, pens, phone cases, thumb drives, and big dumb tubs of flavored popcorn.
Every time we get one of those “swag” catalogs, I flip through it. I keep an eye out for anything I think my clients would actually find useful or delicious or delightful. But every time, the answer is NOPE.
This isn’t to say that client gifts aren’t a good idea. Gifts that are actually thoughtful and personalized are a beautiful thing that can express your gratitude and make a client feel appreciated. It can be a smart business move.
But you know what?
There are better gifts we can give to our clients.
Yes, we can do great work for them and give them a lot of value for the money they pay us. We can treat them with professionalism and be responsive to their needs. We can express our gratitude with our words and actions.
But more and more, it occurs to me that the best gift we can give our clients is clear communication.
Because clear communication saves everyone time.
And time is the one gift everyone wants – but it can't be found in a catalog.
Here’s what I mean by clear communication:
Explaining what you do and how in language that’s simple and specific
Having a crystal clear definition of who you work with and who you don’t
Being clear with clients about your process, expectations, and boundaries
… in your website, conversations, proposals, and any other communications with existing or prospective clients.
How does this save time?
>> It gives clients the information they need to determine quickly whether you’re the right fit for them. If yes, they’ve found their solution and can move to the next step! If not, they can cross you off the list and move on – and you will have avoided working with a less-than-ideal client.
>> There are fewer misunderstandings or mistakes to repair because everyone’s on the same page from the beginning.
>> There’s less hemming and hawing about what to do next because as the business owner, you’ve already defined your process and have communicated it to the client.
So this time of year, as you’re thinking about client gifts or planning for 2019, I urge you to set aside some of that time to consider how you can tighten up your communications to give your clients the gift they value most.
And if you want any help with that, you know where to find me ;-)
P.S. I’ve been featured on the What Works podcast, hosted by the incredible Tara McMullan! In the episode (which you can listen to here, or read here), I give a step-by-step run-down of my on-boarding process, and four other business owners also talk about how they express gratitude to their clients. Some great ideas in there – give it a listen!