Your ability to choose gifts that resonate with your clients depends on the strength of your relationships. And because you and your clients frequently engage in discussions about their life goals, says Theresa McLaughlin, chief marketing officer with TD Bank in Toronto, those relationships should be close and trusting.

As a result of that trust, McLaughlin says, clients will become more willing to tell you about what’s happening in their lives.

It all comes down to the conversations you have, and paying close attention to what matters to your clients, says Javed Khan, founder and president of Empression Marketing in Toronto.

Here are a few suggestions on how you can personalize your approach to gift giving:

> Celebrate milestones and accomplishments
Make a note of the events that might be occurring in your clients’ lives, so you can surprise them with a token of appreciation when notable occasions arise. To keep track of clients’ milestones, log that information into your client relationship management system, says Sylvia Garibaldi, founder of SG and Associates in Toronto.

Think beyond life-changing events, such as wedding anniversaries or the birth of a child. You can also take the opportunity to commemorate a client’s personal accomplishments, Garibaldi says, such as running a marathon, paying off a mortgage or sending a child to university.

And even if you give only a card, the fact that you remembered is often meaningful enough.

> Be generous with your time
Your gift need not be flashy or extravagant to make a deep impression. It could be as simple as an invitation to chat over lunch or coffee, Garibaldi says.

You can be selective in deciding whom to reward, Garibaldi says. For example, invite a client out for an off-the-clock lunch at his or her favourite restaurant, or give a gift card that is reflective of your client’s personal interests.

“We found that it wasn’t necessarily about the dollar amount, but the scale of our reach,” McLaughlin says of the recent “TD thanks you” campaign, which included employees handing out $10 gift cards to some of their favourite clients.

> Integrate gift-giving in your process
Reflect on how you intend to organize your client-appreciation efforts at the beginning of the year. Then, make a habit of finding out as much as you can about your clients’ interests and circumstances, Khan says.

Garibaldi suggests coming up with some objectives to refine your approach. If you’re intent on giving an extraordinary gift to a special client, scale back in other areas.

For example, in lieu of one-time event open to all clients that could cost as much as $5,000, Garibaldi suggests, you might treat just a few clients to a special, meaningful gift for the same total cost.

This is the second part in a two-part series on client gifts.

Click here for part one.

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