Gifts: More Than The Thought Counts

It is the thought that counts… 

The purchase of a gift for a client is not an unusual marketing tactic for a sales person or business owner. For some it is really the thought that counts. We would like our clients to know that we appreciate their business. Of course, it does not hurt that this action invokes the law of reciprocity.

The law of reciprocity indicates that when we go above and beyond for our customers, they will be more likely to reciprocate. It is not as if we can give them a gift and then say—I have bestowed you with this valuable item, now please give me a referral. But in addition to telling them that we care, the gift does make them more anxious to do something for us in the future. While we don’t want to link the two actions directly (gifts and referrals)—you might say that we are paving the way for future referrals assuming we follow the right path in the future.

Any gift we chose can be an effective instrument. Selecting, purchasing and delivering gifts consume two of our most precious resources—money and time. If we are going to dedicate our scarce resources to this practice, we might as well achieve the maximum effectiveness possible. We can do this with some extra thought.

For example, is the gift unique? Are your clients likely to see or receive more than one of the items you have provided? How many calendars might they receive at the end of the year? Why would they be likely to keep yours? Your clients are more likely to retain your calendar because of its useful or aesthetic features—not because it came from you.

What gifts besides calendars might be more unique? Finding a truly unique gift might become a challenge, but the extra thought will be certainly worth the effort if you come up with something with a WOW factor. Want to let your clients know you care? Give the selection process more thought.

While you are thinking about uniqueness, also think about value. Is the gift something that will help the intended recipient? Whether the recipient is a consumer or a business person (or both), we must ask the question—will it make them more productive or make their life easier?

Perhaps the couple has just moved into a house (which you sold or financed for them). What would make their life easier? It could be as simple as two tickets to a movie so that they can take a night off and enjoy themselves. Or perhaps it is the use of a concierge service that will help them change all of their utilities, etc.

Do not assume because your recipient is a consumer that a business gift would be inappropriate. Some consumers own businesses, others are in sales and still others may manage employees. Unless your client is retired, he or she may be just as serious about their business as you are about yours. A best-selling book on leadership may very well be appropriate. Imagine a gift that would change their life for the better. That would be real value.

The rules of synergy require that we achieve as many goals as possible from each action. Gift giving is no exception. From whom are you purchasing the gift? When you spend your precious resources (time and money) what are you getting in return from the vendor? Order from a national distributor and you might receive nothing. Order from a local business and you may start a significant referral relationship.

The act of giving can also be set up to achieve maximum synergy. How much more money or time does it take to announce that the gift is from you and your ______ (synergy partner)? Absolutely no more time or money. But now you are giving value to a referral source who may potentially be much more potent than your client could ever be. Who delivered service to your customers during the process and how could you work more closely with this entity in the future? You can achieve no greater synergy than you could through partnering with effective referral sources.

So in terms of the effectiveness of selecting, purchasing and giving gifts—a little thought can go a long way. Yes, you will show your client that you care—but you can also increase the effectiveness of this marketing activity many times over. All it takes is just a little thought outside the gift box to achieve maximum synergy.

Dave Hershman is a top industry speaker and best selling author and head of the OriginationPro and the Certified Mortgage Advisor Program. Visit for a free trial of OriginationPro’s Marketing System for loan officers, Realtors and financial services personnel.


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