Elaine Fogel

How to Boost Your Brand This Holiday Season

gift givingIt’s November; there’s a chill in the air and it’s time to consider your holiday gift-giving options. For small businesses, there are customers, special suppliers, partners, and employees to thank. For nonprofits, you’ll want to show appreciation to top donors, volunteers, funders, special suppliers, and employees.

But, with limited budgets, how can you show your appreciation and boost your brand without spending a fortune?






Well, here are some suggestions:

For external customers:

  • Give them a useful promotional product with your logo imprinted on it. Items such as quality pens, carry bags, calendars, and mugs are affordable and practical. Ask your promotional product supplier about current specials and closeouts to save considerably.
  • For B2B customers, you can choose to send one gift to the main buyer such as a gift basket of consumable goodies. If you need to thank a department or several people, a larger gift basket makes a positive statement of appreciation for their business.
  • If it’s feasible, send custom-branded holiday cards with a discount voucher inside for a future purchase. For nonprofits, you can include a discount voucher for your next big-ticket fundraising event. That way, you’re also encouraging attendance. If your list is too large for a mailing, you may achieve similar results using e-mail. Test this to gauge results.
  • For special recipients, most people will appreciate gift cards for movies, restaurants, or other entertainment.
  • If you want to thank a lot of people simultaneously, throw a holiday open house after a workday. If hiring a caterer is costly, consider using a local nonprofit that operates a skill-based work program. An example (in my city) is CK Catering, a social-enterprise business administered by St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance. It’s staffed by students who are learning the catering business while working alongside chef instructors.
  • For small businesses that practice Small Business Social Responsibility (#SBSR), you can make a donation to a local charity in their honor. Ensure that the recipient charity is tied to your brand somehow. Example: If your business is food related, make a donation to a shelter or food bank.

For internal customers (employees):


Depending on your year’s net revenue, a holiday bonus accompanied by a handwritten note of appreciation goes a long way in thanking employees.

Depending on your year’s net revenue, a holiday bonus accompanied by a handwritten note of appreciation goes a long way in thanking employees. If bonuses are not in the cards, consider these alternatives:

  • Extra time off with pay.
  • Take them out for a holiday lunch. If you have too many employees to afford the expense, organize a pot-luck lunch (or order in pizza) and set aside an afternoon for fun activities that they can plan. Make sure you supply the beverages (alcoholic or otherwise), the plates/napkins, etc., and purchase the items required for the afternoon of games and activities. One note of caution: make sure that everyone leaves sober enough to drive.
  • Plan a holiday activity outside the office such as bowling, paintball, a theater performance, or professional sports game. (Typically, group discounts are available.)
  • Give out gift certificates for a healthy or relaxing experience such as massage therapy, spa service, yoga class, or gym visit. When you buy several gift certificates from a local independent vendor, you may be able to negotiate a volume discount.
  • Give them a nice promotional product with your logo imprinted on it. Depending on the number of employees and your budget, you can choose briefcases, duffle or sports bags, outdoor apparel, travel products, and other practical gifts your employees can use in public. That way, your brand identity is visible to others.

No matter what route you take, it’s important to acknowledge the people who contribute to your business’ or organization’s success. Showing appreciation boosts your brand and leaves a lasting positive impression.

Feeling appreciated is one of the most important needs that people have. When you share with someone your appreciation and gratitude, they will not forget you. Appreciation will return to you many times.” (Steve Brunkhorst)

Got any other practical and affordable holiday gift-giving ideas? Please share!


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