What About Holiday Gifts or Promotional Gifts As A Marketing Tool?

November 25th, 2014

shutterstock_153628559Today Jonathan posed the question:

I was wondering if you have ever discussed the topic of holiday gifts or promotional gifts as a client retention/acquisition tool. I’m talking coffee mugs and USB key type stuff. With the holiday season approaching this might be a good way to lure potential clients. Any thoughts?

My general feeling on the subject is that the thing that counts with these kinds of gifts is that it should be a personal thank you for the client’s business. Include a personal hand written thank you note with your gift. For your A-list clients, stop by the clients office and personally give them the gift. Think of the gift giving as part of the relationship building process. You are trying to build a relationship with your clients so they trust you, value your great service and will readily refer their friends and associates to you.

To me just sending them a coffee mug with your company advertisement without the personal contact or at least a personal hand written note is too impersonal. I think it is the personal part that’s important… something handwritten or a face-to-face thank you and handshake.

Note that there are real estate agent mastermind groups like Brian Buffini that teach agents how to build their business by providing great service and building personal relationships with clients. One of the techniques they teach is to build personal relationships with personal notes and personal face to face contact. So many top agents understand and use this process in their own business.

What are your experiences with these kind of gifts?

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16 Responses to “What About Holiday Gifts or Promotional Gifts As A Marketing Tool?”

  • We make up photo books of all of their best listings of the year… then gift it to them. It’s always a great hit and agents usually use it as part of their listing presentation… Home owners will flip through and look at all the beautiful work. We call it a “Show Case of 2014” For our busier agents we will make 2… and hope they leave it laying around the office!

  • As I stated on a thread in the Flickr group, be careful if you have corporate clients like I do. I learned the hard way that it is frowned upon in a big way to give any thank you gifts. Caused a little bit of grief that I was embarrassed about and will never do again.

  • @Ryan–Love that idea! What size are the images in the book?

  • @ Jim – The books are 8×10 and I only use the best 3 images for each house on each page, the more listing the agent does… the larger the book. The main exterior image is usually the largest. Blurb has some great templates and is very easy to use. Drag and drop.

  • Sorry that was for Mike!

  • @Jim can you explain more about the frowning of giving gifts to corporate clients? Are you referring to their ethics rules that prohibit gifts?

    I think giving thank you gifts to Realtors who have used your services in the past is a good thing as it keeps you in their minds. Not too sure it would work well to attract new business.

    If you want to attract new business with Realtors I would suggest you contact any brokerage office and ask if you can make a presentation at one of their staff meetings. Offer to bring donuts or pastries and coffee to the meeting. Then provide a brief presentation on your approach to photography and why it is better than the standard cell phone pic. Try and do that at least once a year in the same brokerage you have already presented to as agents come and go. At those meetings if you want to hand out cheap trinkets (pen, desk calendar, etc) with your name, phone number and website you leave them with something to remember you buy.

  • Thanks Ryan–checked out Blurb; looks great. Do you have any examples of the ones you’ve done. At $20-25 a pop, sounds great.

  • Mike here is a sample of a page. The address would be placed over top.
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/g3pxd88jhht8kes/Cover.png?dl=0

  • @Paul-
    For those of us that do more than RE and have corporate clients (mainly a HUGE credit card company that has a regional office here that I do all the headshots for) that you shoot for. Many years ago I tried to give the two people I work with some simple ‘Thank You for your business’ types of gifts (somewhere around $20 each). Well, they got spoken to by HR and security that it was an ethics and security issue, so just by trying to be nice it got them in a little trouble.
    I’m sure for agents it would be no problem. I just wanted to share my experience with other shooters that have clients beyond the RE world.

  • Thanks Ryan–I may do this for my top two agents!

  • Ryan, i LOVE your idea about the 2014 Photo book! I’m definitely going to give that a try for my clients that keep me busy. Thanks!

  • @Jim

    That makes sense Jim. Thanks for sharing.

    Paul

  • I’ve never gotten pushback on a gift to a client, corporate or otherwise. If their company has some sort of policy about it (a thank you gift is a security issue? Seriously?) then frankly it’s their responsibility to communicate that in advance. I fail to see how you could be made to look bad by doing a very mainstream thing that violates their dumb policy, especially when they could simply say, “Gee, thanks, but we’re not allowed to accept gifts. Sure do appreciate the gesture, though.”

  • Government employees and some employees of larger companies are not supposed to accept gifts, but it’s usually when they are above a certain value. If you offered them a soda/coffee/danish or an item with a value under $10 or so, no problem. If you give some use of you company’s box at a local stadium for a sporting event, that might be too much. I’ve only had an issue when I was working for an aerospace firm and I offered to pay for dinner when I was out (socially) with the FAA/AST rep. She couldn’t accept me paying for dinner since it was over a certain amount. With government employees there is the issue with a gift looking like a bribe. For somebody that works in purchasing for a large corporation, it might look the same way.

    Adobe Lightroom has a book function that’s lets you create a book and submit it online for production. I did a test book of some of my rocket photos and it’s very cool. There are lots of options. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a tutorial on YouTube. A book of the year’s best images would be the perfect gift for an agent that was doing a fair amount of business. They could hand that to a prospective client and knock some socks off.

  • @Scott, it could have been a “Securities and Exchange” issue, not a security “guard” issue, it was a large financial institution.

    Some customers like, Disney, Paramount etc started X-raying gift baskets and packages before your could take them in, then they stopped accepting any kind of gifts that included food, finally they just stopped accepting gifts altogether. This is not uncommon at all with large companies.

    Kinda sad really.

  • @Scott-
    Trust me, it was a real head-scratcher for me, too. They have an incredibly tight policy regarding things like this. Hell, I’m not even allowed to drop off a print order at the front desk for my client. Everything has to be mailed. PITA since I’m over by the office on a regular basis, so I would like to not have to run to the PO every time I need to send them something.

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