Small Business Gift Ideas for Customers

By Margot Carmichael Lester, Staples® Contributing Writer You wouldn’t be in business without your customers, so use the season of giving to show your appreciation for their continued patronage. Small, thoughtful gifts inspire deeper loyalty, which drives repeat business and customer referrals. Not sure where to start? We compiled a short list of corporate gift ideas for customers to inspire you
1. Branded Items.

Loyal customers are the best advertising. At New York-based Thursday Boot Co., devoted customers are called Team Thursday. “When they post photos or shoot us an email with an update on their boots, it makes our day,” notes coowner Connor Wilson. “So to put a smile on their face like they do for us, we have created some pretty ridiculous gifts, like adult-sized onesies, dog hoodies, etc. We think it's a fun way to say thanks and keep everyone excited.” You can even create a branded jigsaw puzzle!


2. Your Product.

Create a special edition of your product or service offering for top customers and prospects only. Or give products or gift certificates for services not yet in wide release to provide a sneak peek. “We have a particular holiday box that we will send some to people who have supported us throughout our very up-and-down journey of trying to balance a professional sport career as females and trying to run our own business,” explains Courteney Lowe of The Runnerbox in Dewitt, MI.


3. Photo Calendar.

If you’re in a visual business — art gallery, photographer, designer — a photo calendar is a great way to show off your skills in a practical way. But image-bearing gifts can work for any business. While you might not want to feature beauty shots of your product line lest it feel more marketing than merry, sourcing compelling images and adding your logo discreetly provides a year-round soft sell. Get the same effect from mugs, coasters and other useful items.


4. Food & Beverage Gifts.

“Food is a great gift because it's consumable, so it won't become a dust collector or burden,” explains Helene Segura, a San Antonio-based productivity consultant. “If food gifts are sent to the office, more than one person can partake and enjoy. Food brings people together.” Gift baskets filled with delicious items offer variety, or go with a big batch of the same thing like cookies or coffee pods.


5. Custom Holiday Cards.

Quality cards with handwritten notes from you or your employees are classic, and are useful if your budget can’t accommodate corporate gift giving. “Personalized cards say ‘You are important to us, thank you for helping to make our company great,’” explains Arik Anderson, Executive Travel Center’s President for the Americas. The Elk Grove, CA-based agency uses a mix of client gifts and holiday thank-you cards “to establish and maintain success, trust and loyalty with our clients.”


  • Budget “My biggest challenge — and probably so for most small business owners — is budget. How do you adequately say thank you without a million dollars in the bank?” Segura says. “I create different levels of gifts based on how much a client spent with me.”
  • Perception. “We choose an appropriate gift based on our ongoing business relationship with the client,” Anderson says. “We do not want our message of goodwill to get lost in a gift that’s either too expensive or too inexpensive.” He’s also careful to make sure the gesture isn’t seen as an overt marketing ploy rather than a genuine show of gratitude.
  • Efficiency. The last thing you need is another trip. Purchase gifts from vendors who offer conveniences like online order/in-store pickup, next-day pickup and full-service shipping.

These gift ideas for customers will help you do more this holiday to reward their loyalty and build your business.

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