The holiday season is emotionally charged. More than any time of the year, high levels of stress and good spirit cause people to respond intensely. As a marketing agency, you can take advantage of those enhanced feelings to create relationship-building opportunities and experience a payout that will last for years to come.
Find a way to alleviate stressors for your customers, and you’ll create a lasting impact on your clients. Here is how to build client relationships effectively this holiday season:
1. Embrace the spirit of giving.
This time of year, there are charity opportunities on every corner: Toys for Tots, food banks, and Angel Tree projects gear up around the Christmas holidays. Many people who don’t think about charitable giving or volunteer opportunities during any other time of the year get excited about the chance to give back at Christmas—and your clients are no exception.
Look for ways to make the most of the holiday season. You can:
- Support a charity that’s important to your clients. Look for the charities that your clients are already supporting, then offer to make a donation in their name. Whether they get excited about programs like Doctors Without Borders or making books available to children from underprivileged families, choose the charity that means the most to your clients. If you’re dealing with a broad range of clients, consider choosing a charity that is meaningful to your company as a whole and donating there. Some great choices include programs like:
- Family Care International, which provides resources to keep women healthy during pregnancy
- Mercy Corps, which offers disaster relief help and education
- No Kid Hungry, which acts to provide meals to the one in five American children living in poverty who don’t have adequate access to food
- Scholarship America, which aims to help provide scholarships to underprivileged students and reduce student debt rates
- Save the Children, which sets out to prevent poverty, disease, illiteracy, and hunger among children around the world
- Partners in Health, which provides healthcare services to the poor
- Direct Relief International, which offers assistance following natural disasters
- Create a scholarship fund for your clients’ business. You can also donate to one that’s already been created as your holiday gift to them.
- Help host a benefit dinner. Benefit dinners are a great way to raise awareness for lesser-known charities and embrace the full benefits of holiday giving, but they take a lot of work to put together.
This charitable giving strategy is a great way to connect with your clients and show them that your company cares about their communities and the things that are important to them. Some companies have been excellent examples of this over the years. Take, for example, Caliendo Savio Enterprises (CSE), which in 2014 made several charitable donations in the names of its clients over the holiday season. CSE chose four key charities that had meaning to the company, then directed funds in the name of its key clients and partners as part of its holiday initiative. This program helped reaffirm CSE’s commitment to the community and to giving back—a commitment which led to a high level of response from the partners they chose to reach out to through the program.
2. Make personal connections.
In today’s fast-paced digital age, personal connection are becoming increasingly rare. This holiday season, when interactions turn into a blur and it can be difficult to connect deeply with anyone, look for chances to connect personally with your clients. This might include:
- Listening to the little details of their lives when they mention them, including information about spouses and children
- Looking for ways to take stressors off their plates during the holiday season, particularly if there’s a way to shift a responsibility to your agency instead of keeping it for themselves
- Aiming to eliminate the pain points that matter most to your clients by listening to the things that are currently causing them the most stress
- Give the gift of an eager ear or a helping hand instead of an impersonal gift basket this holiday season–sometimes, a few hours of your time is worth more than anything money could buy.
3. Choose the right gifts.
Many companies opt to send out gifts to their most valued clients around the holiday season. However, make sure to avoid generic, impersonal gifts which have little value to your clients and may, in fact, end up discarded quickly. Instead, look for opportunities to send useful or personal gifts. For example:
- Personalize your choices. From your cards to the gifts you send, there’s a big difference between something that’s been chosen specifically for client and a generic gift that goes out to everyone. Try to choose gifts that speak to your clients’ personalities. Base them on what you know about your clients: if you know a client takes pride in their Christmas tree every year, send out a personalized ornament. If you know that your client has regular company picnics, consider providing a pitcher or picnic blanket. Personalized offers are much more likely to be appreciated than if you send the same gift to every client.
- Minimize “stuff.” Many clients, especially bigger business, may struggle with the annual holiday influx of items that they don’t really need or use. For these clients, a personalized card with a heartfelt, handwritten message will mean more than any gift you could send.
- Think about the use of your logo. No matter what you’re sending, you want your clients to remember you when they use it. Arbitrarily tossing in that pen with the company logo or including a company t-shirt, however, won’t help your case. Instead, try some of these useful swag gift ideas:
- Portable travel safes or high-quality luggage tags for clients who travel on a regular basis
- Unique food gifts, particularly those that won’t go bad–avoid fruit or ham, which are often in plentiful supply this time of year, and try prepackaged snacks, candies, or healthy foods to share around the office
- Nice moleskin notebooks or planners
- High-quality sunglasses
- Briefcases or travel bags
- Wine or brandy with custom labels
- Smart phone covers
Taking the time to choose the right gift can be the difference between one that is used all year long and one that is quickly forgotten by your clients. If you really want to make an impact and build those critical client relationships this holiday season, choosing your gifts with care is the best way to do it.
4. Open communications.
There’s a lot going on during the holiday season. It can be incredibly tempting to skip phone calls and put off setting times for meetings until January. Taking the time to open communications with a client personally, however, makes a big difference at this time of year.
Try these tips:
- Make a personal phone call to check in, see how things are going, and determine whether or not there’s anything you need to accomplish.
- Set up your January appointments now so that neither you nor your clients will be scrambling after the holidays.
- Be proactive about communicating your availability during the holidays. A quick conversation about your holiday schedule can prevent a lot of frustration as a client calls in hoping to catch you and receives an automated reply instead.
Networking during the holidays can be incredibly stressful, and you may find yourself struggling to pick and choose the events that you must attend. A few minutes to connect personally with your clients, however, can create feelings of goodwill that will outlast the holiday season.
5. Create a great out-of-office message.
You may not be able to connect personally with every client. Chances are, your holiday vacation schedule won’t match up perfectly with theirs. Constructing your “out of the office” message to ensure maximum benefit can sooth customer and make your clients feel better about the wait. Here are some personality-filled away messages that might give you a starting point for your own unique take on a holiday greeting:
- “We’re currently out of the office for the holidays. That means that we’re supposed to be spending time with our families, away from the responsibilities of work; however, don’t worry too much. We’re probably glued to our cell phones just like always, so you can reach us via email.”
- “We are out of the office for the holidays. If you can’t find an answer to your query in our Frequently Asked Questions area, please consider contacting the following workaholics, who will be more likely to respond over the holidays.”
- “During this holiday season, we will spend our days surrounded by drunken relatives and overexcited children. We will be back in the office after the New Year, eager to be back at work once more.”
6. Take care of yourself.
If you’re feeling run off your feet, exhausted, and chronically late this holiday season, you’re not alone! All too many businesses find themselves with too much on their plates throughout the busiest time of the year. Unfortunately, that stress will inevitably translate to your clients–and that means that you won’t be providing them with the best service possible. By taking a few steps to slow down and reduce your stress level, you can make a big difference in how your clients perceive your company this year.
If you’re finding yourself extremely busy this holiday season, BlogMutt can help! Contact us today to set up a demo to see how the process works. We’d love to get your clients’ content done for you so you can focus on the other aspects of your business.