In my latest video, I break down how swimming teaches us the importance of these relationship-building efforts and the specifics of what we as leaders need to nurture with our teams.
In an effort to simplify the decision-making process, we're sharing some of the trends we've seen with gifting over the years. We're even sharing our best seller and why that gift had such success.
Last year we had the opportunity to work with one of our clients in the travel and tourism space to design an experience that delivered their highest engagement yet.
Building strong relationships with clients and the other relationships that support the business is essential for success. And one of the most used occasions to reconnect with these important people is the year-end holiday season. In fact, for many businesses, this may be the only time they make a concerted effort to reach out and showcase their appreciation. However, it's important to acknowledge that the year-end is also a busy time for businesses, with a rush of activities and obligations requiring their attention.
Amid the hustle and bustle, it can be challenging to create a holiday appreciation experience that truly stands out and leaves a lasting impression. For many, it can feel rushed and one more project that needs to be completed before the end of the year. This is why we often hear stories about people purchasing holiday cards that are still sitting on their desk 6 months later!
So, this year, we wanted to share some ideas and strategies to help you create a unique and meaningful experience that resonates with your recipients. Something that is meaningful enough to set you apart and create more of an emotional connection with your important business relationships.
Susan Baier, the CEO of Audience Audit, is a client who has been working with us the last few years and has faced a similar challenge with year-end gifting. Despite the time constraints posed by her fast-growing business, she recognized the immense potential of holiday appreciation in strengthening client and partner relationships and she was tired of trying to manage the effort on her own. She shared with us that in the past, she had hired vendors who shipped gifts to her clients that showed up broken and messy, reflecting poorly on her brand. Susan came to us because she wanted to go beyond the traditional and create a unique experience that would reflect her brand's playful and approachable personality.
Audience Audit leveraged their on-going service with The Expressory to take advantage of our holiday planning. Starting in September, the teams began to collaborate. Previous gifts and ideas were reviewed, along with the key words that were important to Susan and her team when they thought about their overall message for the year in review. Susan is an extremely caring person and that comes through in all her relationships. She wanted to show her understanding of what so many of us were going through in 2022. Business owners were still operating under a lot of stress and uncertainty in the market and covid was a lot. Susan wanted to provide a bit of levity while validating what so many were feeling. And our team was able to find something quite unique and on-point!
The end experience was the gift of a Dammit Doll – Something relatively unheard of. This wild looking, voodoo type doll came complete with a poem that laid out the use case of slamming your Dammit Doll to take out your frustration.
The Dammit Doll, was an unconventional choice for a gift, but perfectly aligned with Audience Audit's brand representation and heartfelt appreciation. The agency’s brand incorporates a fun, casual, irreverent personality to make clients feel more comfortable with what can often be considered very intimidating work. And the doll definitely removed the feeling of intimidation!
The response to the gift was extraordinary, with an 80% engagement rate and positive feedback pouring in. It created an ongoing narrative around Audience Audit's uniqueness, which lasted well over 6 months after the mailing. And it ultimately nurtured an organic sense of community and connection.
Why was this gift so successful? To understand this, you also need to see the message.
Susan created messaging that listed all the commonly felt pain points and then commiserated with the recipient on the solution.
The winter surge.
Having to do MATH.
Don’t yell at your spouse, your colleagues, your accountant, your clients or your TV. This doll can take everything you can dish out.
While we hope you get some restorative time this winter, when things get rough, we’ve got your back. (Especially with the math.)
Knowing the complete experience, here are the factors that made it remarkable:
1 – Shared Experiences – In her message, Susan tapped into the many frustrations that we were collectively experiencing at the time. By doing so, she tapped into validating what everyone was going through. She showed that Audience Audit understood us. And then she gave people a tool! One that continues to build a shared experience we can talk about in the future when we have stories of smashing around this doll.
2- Relationship Related – This doll became an accidental symbol of the Audience Audit community. So many people talk about the doll and showcase it on an on-going basis that it now represents that “I’m connected to Audience Audit and they’re amazing”. It created a strong relationship.
3 – Element of Surprise – The gift was definitely a surprise as people opened this nicely packaged…odd looking doll. When you bring in this level of an unexpected unboxing experience, you’ve created a lasting memory.
4 – Transition – The last component of this gift that helped its memorability is the fact that it represents a transition in the making. It’s a tool to transition people from frustration to laughter. When a gift symbolizes a transition, it will make the recipient think of you when they think of that transition. In this case, each time they move themselves out of frustration!
As you can see, this gift packed a powerful punch when it came to solidifying relationships. It’s one that is still providing return as the community created continues to share their stories of use.
The success of Susan's approach underscores the importance of understanding your brand, knowing your audience, and aligning your messaging with your chosen gifts. By following a few key steps, you too can craft a brand-centric holiday appreciation experience that leaves a lasting impression:
Understand Your Brand: The first step is to have a clear understanding of your brand personality. Is your brand fun, serious, innovative, or supportive? This understanding will guide your gift selection and overall experience.
Understand Your Brand Language and Goals: Think of your common taglines, phrases, and other words you use with your clients. What goals do you set for them? All of these can help you curate physical representations of your brand and appreciation.
Know Your Audience: Understand your clients and partners deeply. What are their pain points? What do they value? What are they working toward achieving? How can they be motivated? Again, these are all things that can help you create a meaningful experience.
Brainstorm Unique Ideas: Let your creativity flow and brainstorm ideas. The more unique and brand-centric, the better. Think outside the box and consider how you can create a memorable experience for your recipients.
Align with Your Message: Ensure that your chosen gifts and messaging reflect why they were chosen and what they mean to your recipients. Are you aiming to express gratitude, solidarity, or acknowledgment of your clients' challenges?
Ensure Quality Execution: Pay attention to every detail, from packaging to presentation. A well-executed strategy adds to the overall impact of your brand-centric holiday appreciation.
Track and Measure: Like any business strategy, monitor engagement rates, gather feedback, and measure the impact of your appreciation efforts. This data will provide valuable insights for future initiatives.
By investing time and effort into creating a brand-infused (not branded) holiday appreciation experience, you can build stronger connections, foster a sense of community, and nurture long-lasting relationships. So, this holiday season, showcase your brand's personality and appreciation. It will pay off in unexpected ways!
If you find your team struggling to develop experiences you feel strongly about, we’re always happy to help strategize. Meaningful and lasting gifts are our specialty! You can join us at one of our upcoming Q&As to discuss with our community (click here to register) or feel free to schedule time for a one-on-one conversation (click here to schedule).