Great Ideas from Holiday Retailers to Keep Our Clients Happy

A few weeks ago, I received two envelopes, one from Saks and one from Neiman’s. I opened the Saks one first. It had a $25 gift card, which I got excited about, until I read the fine print. I had to spend $150 to get the $25. There were some other constraints, but by then, I had tossed it. It’s a nice offer, but it’s a fairly standard discount-with-purchase offer.

I opened the Neiman’s envelope. It invited me to a one-day event, and it assigned me a number from one to nine. I had to open a flap to get my secret number. If I bring the card in the store, I’ll get a gift that corresponds to the number. For some reason, I liked this offer more. It piques our curiosity. On the back of the card, the legal disclosure listed what the gifts would be: cuff links, wool scarves, frames, dishes, gift sets, and gift cards. Not too shabby.

That’s just two examples of hundreds of deals we’ll be exposed to this holiday season. How can you apply these ideas to your company? Could you get a revenue boost or increase in client appreciation by implementing a creative promotion?

Here are some ideas from retail that we can apply to our non-retail companies:

Gift with purchase

Select a couple of products or services that are quite small that can be used as giveaways along with a purchased service. They can be indirectly related to your service. For example, if you do tax returns, you can have a lot of fun with this. For large enough accounts, you could throw in a celebratory dinner (restaurant gift card) for those clients getting refunds or a stress-reducing spa massage (spa gift card) for those who owe money to the IRS. This is called gift-with-purchase in retail.

Gift drawing

You can have a secret gift promotion like Neiman’s. Think about what behavior you want to encourage in your business. For clients who do that behavior, such as go to the store in Neiman’s case, they get the gift. The behavior might be to complete a form, attend an event, visit your location, or send you a referral. Select three or more small gifts for this purpose so there will be some element of surprise and randomness. It can be surprisingly easy to get these gifts donated from nearby local businesses who want to advertise their goods. You can also give your own products or samples away as gifts.

Let’s say you’re having an open house, or even a holiday party. You could send out invitations that include the code for one of the gifts. They can redeem them at the party. The gifts can be serious and related to your product or not. A PR firm could give away one press release or TV interview coaching. An accounting firm could partner with a banker to waive checking account fees for a year or give away software or consulting. An IT firm could provide small pieces of hardware such as routers, cabling, or a tablet. Or you could keep it lighter with universal appeal and provide sports tickets, concert tickets, or a fruitcake. Just kidding on the fruitcake.

Gift raffle

At an event I held in 2010 with two other entrepreneurs, we were thrilled to get quite a bit of luxury merchandise donated for a raffle. Just by attending the event, you were entered in the drawing. We had about a dozen items to give away, and a dozen very thrilled winners by the end of the evening. Jewelry, spa gift cards, inspirational books, coaching sessions, and food items were among the gifts.

Gift bags

Every star who attends the Oscars receives a brim-filled gift bag of goodies from vendors that have paid big money to get their stuff placed. You can come up with your own gift bags to give away to your clients. At my event mentioned above, every participant received a gift bag with a free massage certificate, a motivational book, cosmetics, and more.

Add a charity angle

Donate a fixed amount or percentage to a major client’s favorite charity. You could choose the top five clients who spent the most with you in 2011, or those who sign up with you by a certain date. At a recent event hosted by Anne McKevitt, a wealthy humanitarian and entrepreneur, the entry fee was a donation to Kiva.

These promotional ideas will certainly get your clients talking, especially if they are not routine in your industry. Try these to wake up your prospects, turn up the buzz from your clients, and ring up the sales during the holidays.