I got a lovely email from a photographer today wishing me a happy Thanksgiving. I’m 99% sure it was a mass emailing, but the writing was sincere, short, and offered a lovely thought so I’m not 100% convinced it was. Either way, it cut through the clutter of my inbox and made me feel good. I hope he sent it to his clients as well, because I think it would have the same results.
Sending it to targets he has never met, however, would probably not be as effective. Heartfelt emails connect better with people you know. Targets aren’t likely to be impressed unless you have something really amazingly creative, or expensive. Unless, however, it helps others.
So that brings us to the holiday gifting question in general and what to do there. IMHO, the best thing you can do this year is to re-purpose your holiday promo money and give to the needy instead. Let your clients and targets know, via email or a simple card of some sort that you are doing this. One year I got (from an agency in Cleveland) a shiny (empty) soup can with a label on it that said that they had donated to the local food bank. I loved that. Smart and good hearted.
Not to toot my own horn, but I have done this for years myself–every year I buy a whole bunch of games and donate them to Toys for Tots. It feels better than, well, kissing up to potential and past clients with shiny, expensive things. I think the people I work with would rather help others than get for themselves, so the connection is real.
Most of your clients and targets are of a similar mind. We’re all pretty lucky, in comparison to many people out there, and even this year when so many of us are feeling the economic pains, we’re still better off than most. Most people in advertising or any creative field love helping others, so gifting in this way works on so many levels.
Most importantly this year is that the need is greater than ever.
So, I encourage you to open your heart and give to the truly needy this year. If you are going to use it for marketing purposes, be careful of any religious groups, however, since you could accidentally tick some people off. Stick to reputable and good charities, that are not religiously affiliated if at all possible. Food banks are particularly in need this year.
If you don’t have money to spare, but still want to do something, why not offer your time and/or your art to these groups? Volunteer one day a month for the next year in a homeless shelter, in the name of your clients, for example. Teach kids how to make pictures in an after-school program. Something to help.
Whatever you choose to do, do it with an open heart. That includes if you choose to give gifts to your clients instead. Just do it because you want to, not for what you might get out of it.
And for everyone in the US, happy Thanksgiving (tomorrow).