Christmas Market Shopping, Crowded Street Scene. Christmas Light
Credit: Christmas market shopping, crowded street scene. Christmas light decorations, fairy ambiance, blurred abstract background with bokeh.
Everyone at Christmas is trying to get a high visibility ticket, client kudos and recognition to cement the following year’s relationship. Being part of swirling rounds of parties and gift giving is exhausting. But is Christmas really the most effective time to show clients how much you appreciate them?
The deluge, stress and noise of Christmas is exhausting for SMEs as most are scrambling to complete work before a break on tight budgets. The constant juggling of parties and other life demands feels akin to a mouse on a spinning wheel.
Then there is the traditional expectation to reward clients for their loyalty and custom. And it’s also a very profitable time of the year which keeps many sectors afloat. Embracing the spirit of gratitude and goodwill during the season is important. But I am not convinced this is the best time of the year to really stand out and show your unique appreciation and brand. Given many clients have different cultural and religious beliefs that don’t align with Christmas it makes sense to review how you reward them.
All businesses are sending gifts seeking to be memorable simultaneously so it’s hard to get cut through. And if you have key clients who are likewise key client to many others, it can be a fight for strikethrough space. Tier one and two corporations at the top end of town will be swimming in 100’s of gifts, cards, flowers and bottles of wine which swamp their offices. And there is just only so many parties one human can attend in a day. You just won’t always be memorable as an SME.
You may have a fabulous party planned for top clients but date clashes can result in a low turnout. The decision making of which event to attend etc is difficult and puts many under pressure. So the answer is to flip the traditional switch and make sure your personal and business brand is standing out in solo fashion (excuse the pun) where you have little or no competition for attention.
And that means gift-giving and parties outside of the Christmas period. Your personal brand recognition and the unique value this will afford will be insurmountable. And the benefit on a macro level is that the businesses that rely (and don’t get much sleep) on the three-week Christmas window will have a greater financial and physical spread throughout the year.
Eight other times to reward & show gratitude:
The month/date that you first engaged the client.
Anniversary month your client launched their business.
Special event/launch of your client.
Your business anniversary launch – make it a win-win you all celebrate.
Tie in dates of their favourite charities’ events.
Easter is one of the most under-utilised dates and very few maximise the holiday.
February, May, September, October – these months are great as there is no major competing events/holidays.
Birthdays – this is real personal branding 101 – and it’s 1-on-1.
Whilst you may have missed the boat for this Christmas in changing strategy there may be some windows left. If you haven’t committed to gifts and cards etc, why not let clients know you have decided to do something different and will be planning a February event for example. Or even taking the charity-giving route and advising you won’t be gift giving this year but allocating funds to charities and what is their preferred choice.
Whatever you do this year or next, be different.
Sue Parker, Founder and Chief Human, DARE Group Australia