Client gift ideas
Thread poster: Sonya Gerisch

Sonya Gerisch  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:19
Member (2004)
German to English
Dec 1, 2004

Hello everyone,
It is the time of year again where I need to start sending clients a little thank you/reminder that I am still around. Anyone have any good ideas on what I can send out?
It needs to be something priced reasonably, but also something that I can send out to offices, i.e. that the people in the office can share. I need it for here in the US and in Germany. I thought about gift baskets of food/chocolate, etc., but I haven't really found anything online yet. What do the rest of you do?


Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:19
English to German
+ ...
Calendars in support of charities Dec 1, 2004

Hi Sonya,
For the last few years, I have been sending out calendars produced by various charities I know personally. Some of the photos are still displayed in some clients' offices.

Cheers, Ralf


Alison Schwitzgebel
Local time: 14:19
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Make a donation to a charity Dec 1, 2004

Why not make a donation to a charity of your choice and send your clients out a nice letter saying that you are not sending out gifts this year, but have chosen to make a donation instead.

It's a great thing to do - it makes you feel good, and hopefully it should make your clients feel good too. Gets you noticed in a different kind of way.




Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
Why are we all thinking alike? Dec 1, 2004

Holidays for me are NGO promo occasions as well. I just mailed off the first batch of (lovely!) greeting cards made by a handicapped painters' association. It's also a chance for them to get known (that's why I mailed them earlyicon_wink.gif).

If I were to send gifts, I'd probably cross the street to my neighbourhood Intermond (equal opportunities) shop. I find it much more meaningful than a self-promoting giveaway.


Victor Potapov
Russian Federation
Local time: 15:19
English to Russian
+ ...
Something a) unusual & standing out, b) useful for a long time, c) inexpensive... Dec 1, 2004

I am now considering the same issues - Christmas and New Year's Eve are almost here!

If you go the gift way, not the charity donation way (charity donations are OK but I feel like imposing my no doubt good will on my client receiving the notice. I would agree that donation would make sense if I knew THE CLIENT'S preferred charity... )

Anyway. If you go the gift way, I would have the following suggestions:

First of all, there are various gift-giving and -taking rules in every country. In US often procurement people cannot accept gifts from vendors (you and I are their vendors) above certain (low) amount. This is not the case (yet) here in Russia. We can give gifts unlimited. Some people use this opportunity in a very direct way, but I see the gifts I give as a much better investment in relationships than kickbacks. I am radically opposed to kickbacks and refuse even when directly asked (and try to avoid working with this client in the future) - for a number of reasons, but that's probably a topic for another thread...

So back to gifts. All things being equal, your gifts should be:

- unusual. Make yourself seen and remembered - Ralf's picturesque wall calendars are good for that.
- durable - your clients will have a NEED to use/display/look at your present for a LONG time. Again, calendar is a good thing - good for a year!
- inexpensive - giving out $200 Mont Blanc pens to even 50 clients is next to useless (total cost: $10,000; total logos distributed: 0, total number of clients' relatives/friends to whom your gift will eventually be transferred: 50). Again, calendars are good - even special-edition should not set you back more than $10-15 per copy (with good quality matte art paper, high-resolution art printing and print runs of say 200 copies).

I came to a conclusion that you need several levels of business souvenirs - one size definitely does not fit all. I have developed the following approach:

- expensive ($100 and up) souvenirs for "highest value" people (they work at my key clients, actively using/promoting my services - my "agents"). These people are usually fairly young, up-and-coming in their organizations, do not have all the status symbols (or cannot afford them ALL at once) but need them very much in their corporate life/struggle. This is more a token of appreciation/friendship than a business souvenir. It should not have your logo on it otherwise the purpose is destroyed (You definitely want to avoid the "Look! Igor got a new Mont Blanc pen! Oh no, it's got a logo of our translation service provider on it! How cheap!.." scenario). I usually give 3 to 5 of those presents per year - pens, cufflinks, Filofax organizers (only leather!..) etc.

My favorite ones were an "office golf set" for a golf fanatic and an automatic shoe-shining machine (made in China, $99) - the guy became an instant hero at his (large) office! Again, those gifts are only some "links" you maintain with your key administrative people.

- mid-range (around $20) - I give around 60-80 of those a year. These go to pretty much everybody you work with at the client. Last year I presented very clever stuff - noteholders. This is a small round solid metal base with 4 or 5 two-inch lengths of rigid multistrand wire protruding out of it with alligator clips attached to the end of each length. These clips hold your messages/notes/etc. in front of you and prevent you from losing important paper messages. Highly useful for a busy administrative worker and will be on his/her desk 100% of the time for a REALLY long time (like a low-tech to-do list).

Of course it has my logo/web site on its metal baseicon_wink.gif))

Cost me $15 with logos printed. Couple years ago I also sent out calendars with my own photos (I was a part-time professional photographer some time ago)- again, to stand out!

- finally, low-cost ($1 and less) - introduction and small tokens, for information only, MUST carry your logo/phone/website info etc. (disposable ballpoint pens, pocket calendars, small calculators, desktop/travel clocks, mugs (ceramic mugs made in China cost $120 per gross (144 mugs) in Moscow before logo printing), etc.

My favorite are pocket calendars - a small 3"x4" laminated sheet of cardboard. Costs $60 per 1,000 copies. Six US cents per copy. Stays with a person for a year. Can't beat this price/performance!icon_smile.gif

Another good option are "anti-stress balls" - brightly-colored balls made of soft porous rubber, ideal for squeezing. Said to possess stress-relieving propertiesicon_smile.gif. They can be made into almost any shape - mobile phone, dice, computer, star, donut, plane, car, animal... you name it!

Of course, you cannot have a Christmas present of a pocket calendar or an anti-stress ball... :-0

So I send out custom-printed greeting/Christmas cards that are filled in by hand (by me) with some individual wishes to every person/company (in some cases I do not know a lot of specifics - in this case the usual wording will do). These cards go out to everybody on the list (about 150-200 persons), including top executives of the Moscow offices of my client companies (provided I have worked with them and they know who I amicon_smile.gif. Again, not prohibitively expensive - costs around $1-$2 per card depending on print run.

Recently I've translated an article on business souvenir industry in the US. Evidently, it's a thriving and rapidly developing sector. There are regular trade fairs held in large cities - you can see a lot of new ideas at a single fair! You can also consult Yellow Pages under headings like "business souvenirs", "corporate gifts", etc.

I believe creative approach (that also takes into account local gift-taking rules and real needs of individual recipients) wins.

Good luck in your souvenir selection - hope this helps you & others!


Seadeta Osmani  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:19
English to Croatian
+ ...
What a great idea! Dec 1, 2004

Alison Riddell-Kachur wrote:

Why not make a donation to a charity of your choice and send your clients out a nice letter saying that you are not sending out gifts this year, but have chosen to make a donation instead.

It's a great thing to do - it makes you feel good, and hopefully it should make your clients feel good too. Gets you noticed in a different kind of way.



And include any available links, addresses, contacts of the Charity Org. in the letter/greeting.

Thanks for the idea, Alison!



Sonya Gerisch  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:19
Member (2004)
German to English
Thanks everyone Dec 2, 2004

Wow, thanks so much for the detailed information!
I actually did end up going with a sort of tiered thing as Victor described. I am sending 2 nice baskets filled with goodies from Virginia to my two biggest clients who provide most of my income. Anyone who provided over $1000 in income I am giving a small gift bag to. Other contacts will get a card with perhaps something small. I always send a card or something, but it is always a struggle to come up with something for me. This year I wanted to do something a bit more because I have had such a good year. I like the charity idea too but am unsure of the appropriateness--especially if I don't know the people in the office personally.
We commonly do charity gifts within our family though. I got tired of the whole Christmas circus a long time ago--but I will save that for another thread:).
Thanks again for all the good advice. I always know where to turn when I need some input--ProZ translators!


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