Guest Author - Deborah Crawford
It is holiday season and typically business owners like to remember their customers with a little (or sometimes not so little) gift. For the small or home-based business owner, that can put a strain on the budget. Here are some ideas that you might find affordable and appropriate:
--Free information. Believe it or not, you are the expert in your area of business. No matter what you do, if you run a business, you already know more than the Average Judy about it. Share some of your knowledge with your customers.
For example, if you are a hairstylist, create a little flyer-type tip sheet with “Holiday Hair Hints”. Tell your customers how to add sparkle, do a simple updo, add ribbons, use a headband, and so on to do their hair for a holiday party. Trust me, you might have been putting hair up since you were six, but some of us need a few guidelines! (Be sure to include your contact information and you might even put a little special on there—come in on Wednesdays for a free blow-dry with haircut or something.)
The same thing works for other professions and businesses. A jewelry designer could send a tip sheet on the various meanings of gemstones. A tailor could give instructions for hemming a skirt or a pattern for a throw pillow. A party planner or wedding planner could give ideas for holiday menus or party favors or even great songs to play during an open house. A writer can share his or her favorite books of the year or write a holiday poem or short-short story to share. A graphic artist can create a screen saver. You get the idea.
You could also borrow something from one of your hobbies. One year, I sent everyone a recipe I had created. Share whatever you are passionate about. It adds a personal touch to the holidays.
--A gift of your time and knowledge. I know this is hardly free, because everyone is so time-impoverished, but you could take the same information-giving idea and instead of doing it in writing, hold a free class or seminar or demonstration.
--Coupons. I recently got a birthday coupon from a spa where I get the occasional massage. Now, I have to pay for a massage to use the coupon, but I get 1 ˝ hours for the price of one-hour. That’s $35 worth of gift for me. I’ll definitely be using it.
(They offered choice of the massage deal or a free make-up application, so they really combined the demonstration idea with the coupon idea. I cannot wear most makeup and I love massages, so it was an easy choice for me!)
You could do something similar for your customers or clients with a coupon that is above and beyond the usual discounted offers.
The most important gift you can really give your customers is to do an excellent job at running your business, to be the resource they need you to be, and to build the relationship with them that makes it easy to do business with you. These tips for free and inexpensive gift ideas will help you to do that.
For more ideas for gifts, these books are loaded:
This one contains ideas for gifts you can make yourself:
This one has unique and unusual gifts: