Finding the right holiday gift for your clients is a powerful way to show your ongoing appreciation for them and stay top-of-mind with a giving gesture. Last week, we outlined 6 Holiday Gifts Your Clients Will Actually Love. But that’s not the whole banana. There is a whole other level of thoughtfulness behind these other few important considerations.
Regulations & Tax Guidelines
Depending on where you live, there may be laws and regulations governing the worth of gifts you can give your clients. For example, in many states there is a cap on how much a gift can be worth, typically a figure like $50 to $100. In many states, it’s illegal to make gifts of money, including cash or a prepaid cash gift card. Even if this isn’t a regulation in your area, a cash gift can give the impression that you are essentially paying someone to be your client, so such gifts are highly discouraged. Check with your local realtors’ association to see what kinds of restrictions and ethical guidelines you should be aware of.
If you are interested in writing off client gifts as a business expense, remember that the IRS imposes a $25 per-person limit. Gifts worth under four dollars are exempt from this requirement. Appropriate documentation is obviously required, so speak with your accountant or CFO. And it is a good idea to keep “client appreciation” as an item in your yearly budget.
Choosing the Right Gift
We know what you can’t give, but what should you give? We’ve all received gifts (particularly from business contacts) that feel less-than-thoughtful. After the holidays, your office is probably full of gift baskets, candy, and knick-knacks that lack a personal touch. Ask yourself: when a gift like that shows up, do you really feel appreciated, or does it just feel like a formality?
That’s why it is so important to put a little thought into whatever you decide to do for your clients. Get together with your team and mastermind what would be most meaningful for your clients. If you know your sphere well, you know what items would have value to them. Big or small, your gift must come from a sincere place if you want the recipient to feel appreciated.
Your “Big Why”
As with everything you do in business, your client appreciation initiatives should be motivated by a “big why” — a deeper, underlying motivation. So take some time to ponder why you bother with these smaller gestures? Is it because your competitors do it and you don’t want to be shown up? Is it because you hope for continued business or leads from these individuals? Or is it because you want to show your sincere appreciation for the relationship?
Until you have a “why” that you are satisfied with, nothing you do will be as meaningful as it could be because it won’t be as intentional. Being intentional in gift giving is important because what you focus on grows. If you focus on strengthening relationships within your sphere, it is more likely to happen. Clients can tell when a gift is sincere and when it is just a formality. Which type would you rather give?
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