As I’m sure all my fellow small business owners know, hat-juggling is a essential skill to develop when you’re your own boss. (So. Many. Hats!) Most of us boostrap and DIY our businesses in to existence, and out of necessity we pick up some new skills along the way.
Sometimes, too, we realize certain parts of our business would actually be better served by asking someone else to take the reins...but how do you know when to take that leap of faith?
When it comes to client appreciation gifts, I’ve noticed several patterns for when businesses choose to create them in-house, and when they find their mission is better served by outsourcing that particular task. To help you make your own informed decision, read on!
(And if you do find yourself leaning toward the “outsource” side of the fence, be sure to read all the way to the end ~ I’ve got a special announcement for you, and especially for my wedding industry friends!)
From what I've observed, there are two great reasons to DIY your client gifts:
1) You're early in the life of your business.
If you're still getting your company off the ground and "settled in," chances are good that your finances are focused on the basic start-up costs that many businesses require (we're talking core operational needs like equipment, inventory, a website, etc).
Plus, unless you invested in professional branding right out of the gate, it might be worth waiting on custom-commissioned gifts until your brand is a bit more solidified. (I'll let you in on a secret: just over a year ago, MEMENTO & MUSE was formerly known as a cutsey, girly brand called The Present Pixie...oh what a difference a year [and some thorough re-branding] makes!)
At this early stage, maybe consider showing your first clients some love with one or two small tokens of appreciation ~ a locally sourced chocolate bar, a jotter notebook that complements your brand aesthetic, items that emphasize quality over quantity. And if nothing else, simply a handwritten thank-you card can make a truly lasting positive impression.
2) Gifting is your love language.
If I sold large-investment products or owned a service-based business that wasn't actually a gift design studio itself, you'd better believe I'd still be doing my own referral and client gifts!
Giving gifts is very much my love language, and if it's yours too, I'll bet that sourcing and creating your appreciation gifts is one of your favorite parts of the whole client process. As long as your DIY gifting continues to be a source of creative energy and joy and not a source of irritating mental clutter and stress, go on with your gifting self!
But what if none of the above really applies to you?
DIY gift design certainly isn't ideal for everyone or for all circumstances. Here are the top seven reasons I've encountered for professionals who choose to outsource their client gifts to a gift design studio:
1) You need to save time (or use it more efficiently).
Most business owners already feel like they don't have enough time, and of course, time is money. I love how my friend and productivity expert Marcey Rader puts it, saying "you should be working in your line of genius" ~ meaning the more time you spend within your own core expertise, the better.
"I’m all for outsourcing to keep people working within their line of genius," Marcey once wrote. "If you own a company, the time you spend shopping for the best airfare [or client gift items] could have been time with a client or writing a proposal."
In fact, many of my business clients had previously gone the DIY route, often putting together completely different, individualized gifts for every single client. But as their business grew, this started taking too much valuable time away from their core business offerings ~ so they decided to outsource.
Commissioning a unified set of custom gifts to be shared with all your clients doesn't have to mean sacrificing delight, though! When done right, a custom gift design will both reflect your brand, AND inspire delight among each of your clients (even if it wasn't designed just for them).
2) You'd rather save money in the long run by not wasting it.
My client Jocelyn, an event planner, shared that one reason she's glad she outsourced her client gifts was because it saved her money, in that it was "done right the first time."
Amanda, another event designer, had a similar story: she told me that before coming to MEMENTO & MUSE, she'd been collecting items for six months that she thought could work...but ultimately, none of them resonated with her.
Handing over the gift design reins to a reputable expert gives you access to someone else's product-sourcing experience, without having to test-drive your way through a bunch of products yourself.
3) Marketing isn't your strong suit.
As a former marketing director, I believe that all business should strive for brand consistency...but this is especially true if your company offers investment-level products or services (think real estate agents, wedding photographers, luxury car dealerships, etc.).
If you're asking people to spend a lot of money with you, excellent branding that is consistently seen in all your client touchpoints ~ including your client gifts ~ subconsciously helps people to trust (and remember) your brand, and helps them feel good about their investment.
So if you're a small shop or one-person business with little in-house access to branding guidance, outsourcing to a studio experienced in designing gifts specifically for businesses can help you create a stronger brand impression than you might on your own.
4) You loathe dealing with the post office!
Kathleen Shannon, co-owner of Braid Creative and co-host of the fabulous Being Boss podcast, has a super-legit reason for outsourcing her company's client gifts. Because her aversion to the post office was the main thing holding her back from working on client gifts, she sought out a company that could handle "all the fulfillment and delivery and the stuff that makes [her] anxious."
If we hate something, we tend avoid it...but in business, that natural instinct can hold us back! If many of your clients aren't local, but the thought of dealing with shipping logistics makes your skin crawl, outsourcing the whole process to a gifting studio that offers direct shipping can wipe that postal anxiety clean away.
5) Gift wrapping or package design is just not your thing.
While a client gift's explicit purpose may be to express your business' gratitude for their patronage, its "subconscious" purpose should be to knock their socks off in a meaningful, memorable way ~ and that includes the way your gifts are presented! You don't want to diminish the impact of a thoughtfully curated gift collection with shoddy or unprofessional gift packaging.
(And remember what I said about avoiding the things we hate? If your personal holiday gift wrapping session fills you with dread each December, that's probably a sign you don't need to be dealing with your client gift packaging. Give yourself peace of mind, and let someone take care of it.)
6) Gift shopping (or shopping in general) isn't something you enjoy.
Lots of people love to shop, sure. But if you're not one of them, I'll wager that your "Make client gifts!" task is going to stay stuck on your to-do list for a lonnng time, if you don't bring in some help. (Even if you do give it the ol' college try, being a reluctant shopper could lead to hasty purchasing decisions that you ~ and your bank account! ~ later regret.)
In particular, do you find yourself overwhelmed by the variety of product options out there? Outsourcing your client gifts means having someone serve as a strategic filter between you and that vast sea of merchandise, someone who can help you make informed choices about the items that best complement your business and brand.
7) You get stressed by last-minute shopping scrambles.
Goodness knows that being a business owner comes with plenty of stress! (Understatement of the year, right?) If you're the type of person who tends to procrastinate until the last minute ~ OR if you're longing to clean out some mental clutter by creating better systems for your client process ~ outsourcing your client gifts is one way to infuse some calm simplicity back into your workflow.
No more dashing around on time-consuming shopping errands every time you book a new client, or feeling guilty when you didn't get to it! By crossing off your gifting "task" ahead of time, once you do engage with a new client, you can simply enjoy the pure pleasure of welcoming/thanking them with a thoughtful gift...no stress necessary.
So...what if you're ready to hand over the reins? I've got some good news.
MEMENTO & MUSE is offering several "Summertime Specials" for custom client gifts to certain professions/industries! For a limited time ~ and for a limited number of businesses ~ you'll have your choice between two different special offers.
Choose to receive either 25% off your final balance, OR add one additional gift to your order at no charge. (And you won't have to choose which one right away...feel free to wait until your custom gift design is finalized to decide which Summertime Special you'd like to take advantage of!)
WHO IT'S FOR
Summertime Specials are (or will soon be!) available for 3 different professions/fields:
PART I | PHOTOGRAPHERS + VIDEOGRAPHERS
- Limited to the first five businesses (photography or videography) that place an order
- Must place your order via deposit by Friday, July 22 *
PART II | WEDDING & EVENT PLANNERS
- Limited to the first five event planning/design professionals that place an order
- Must place your order via deposit by Friday, July 29 *
PART III | ALL OTHER INDUSTRIES + PROFESSIONS
- Limited to the first five businesses that place an order (PS - if you're a photographer or planner who missed out on the first two deadlines, here's your chance!)
- Must place your order via deposit by Friday, August 5 *
- First-time MEMENTO & MUSE clients only
- Original order must meet minimum requirements (10 gifts, $35/gift) before special offer is applied
- May not be combined with any other MEMENTO & MUSE offer or promotion
- Gift delivery available to US destinations only
- For new orders only (cannot be applied to past or current open orders)
- Book now, choose your offer later. You don’t have to decide on your preferred perk (25% off final balance or 1 additional gift) right away; you’re welcome to wait until your custom gift design is finalized to choose.
- If final gift design cost exceeds original budget for which deposit was placed, the "25% off final balance" option is applied based on what the final balance *would have been* had the deposit been based on final gift design amount.
- OFFER EXPIRES on 8/5/16
* Please note, you'll need to schedule your consultation before these deposit deadlines so we can get your order set up in time!