This year give the gift of good marketing

The holiday season is here. Everyone is busy working to bring the year to a festive conclusion.

This is a time of gift-giving. People give incredible thought to what to buy for their loved ones.

It seems pretty easy to buy gifts for loved ones, but what do we think about when we think of our customers, clients and network? Small business marketers enjoy an enormous opportunity to create a variety of gifts for the people who love their service and products. I find myself frequently telling my clients that great marketing approaches should feel like a gift to the recipient. Everything you publish, create and leave behind should be given like the prettiest wrapped present.

On the most basic level, this is a fabulous time of year to wrap presents and give them to your clients, your customers and your close sources of referral. A beautiful box of chocolates, a great book and a thoughtful item will tell people you really appreciate their connection to you and your business.

But what about more traditional collateral? Consider your business cards, brochures, folders and branded items? Do you feel a sense of pride when you present your marketing elements? If your answer is, yes, then you are right on track. Keep going.

If your answer is no, then think about why you are not proud of your materials. Many times people have offered me a business card only to take a pen and scratch out a telephone number or address with an excuse like, "I haven't had new cards made yet."

In other instances, people are quick to leave behind Word docs and Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint decks in store-bought pocket folders. While there is nothing inherently wrong with these items, giving them to customers and prospective clients is like giving them work. The content of those items should be styled, packaged and thoughtfully produced. Suddenly your homemade materials feel important to the recipient.

Specifically, here is what you can do to ensure your marketing efforts are received like gracious gifts.

1. Make great-looking business cards, invoices, letterhead and envelopes as these are the leading edge of any marketing effort.

2. If you are leaving behind unpolished Word documents, spreadsheets, and presentation decks, consider if any of these items could be styled into well-branded items.

3. Do you have any company swag? If you don't, you should. Even a nice pen or notepad is a nice trinket to give to someone. Even better, make branded items to gift to your primary sources of referral to say thanks for their enthusiasm for your business.

4. When you publish content on social media, curate what you say so that it is interesting, thought-provoking and engaging to your audience. All too often people publish boring content that lacks vitality and interest to the reader. Readers comment on and share content that they find appealing.

5. Think about fun, local moments you can create to celebrate your business and your customers. Host a movie night at a local theater, a wine and cheese event at a local restaurant, a fun baking or bowling event at local businesses. Not only will you be treating your customers to fun experiences, but you will be supporting local businesses and that is a true gift to your business and community ecosystem.

There is so much you can do to wrap your marketing in a joyful way. There is no single way to approach the effort. It should be customized for your business.

Give your customers and your network good marketing gifts that celebrate your brand and help people become wild enthusiasts for your enterprise. This time of year is the perfect time to think about how to do this. Doing so will help you reap the benefits of being generous toward the people who adore your business.

• Rebecca Hoffman is the founder and principal of Good Egg Concepts, a strategic communication and brand marketing consulting practice serving clients around Chicagoland and nationally.

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