Give the Gift of Anything: Three Keys to Overachieving with Customers

So, it’s the holiday season, and naturally, our thoughts turn to spending time with loved ones, eating (or over-eating in my case,) and the best part: sharing gifts. Whatever holiday you share, exchanging gifts is typically a part of it, and it adds an absolute level of joy, intrigue and excitement as we count down to the big day (or days, or geological phenomena, or whatever you celebrate.)

But what is it about gift-giving and gift-receiving that’s so special? Why do we bother with the fancy wrapping and the bows and the bags and the pomp and the circumstance?  As it turns out, there’s a marketing lesson in this process that’s worth evaluating.  I’ve found three keys that help keep my clients focused on delivering – and in some cases, overdelivering – on value.

The first key:  Surprise
Unless you’re one of those kids who makes a list and then GETS what you asked for, (and ewww if you do,) gifts, as we know them, are something typically UNEXPECTED.  At the very least, there’s a surprise element in the DNA of gifts that make them so enjoyable to receive.  (And as we get older, to give, too.)  In some cases, outside of the holiday construct, giving a gift can be an unexpected circumstance altogether.  Like when flowers arrive, or someone sends you a heartfelt greeting card or surprises you with something like a special dinner.

The second key:  Value
Another important ingredient that makes gifts so juicy is that they’re usually VALUABLE.  It’s not to say that they must be expensive, as much as having real value to the recipient.  That value could be monetary, could be sentimental, could be utilitarian, could be intellectual, could be sexy.

The third key:  Context
Finally, and this is the key, the cornerstone of a great gift experience is correlated to the level of CONTEXT on the part of the recipient.  When you give a gift that someone genuinely wants or really likes, there’s no limit to the value that can be put on it whatsoever.  Sure, unexpected and valuable gifts are nice, but give me something I really want, or have been searching for, or mentioned months ago, or is in a category I have enthusiasm for – that’s a gift I’ll always remember.

Now, let’s think like marketers.  When was the last time you created a structure where you could give a GIFT to your customer?  No, I’m not talking about a little box with a bow, but rather, when was the last time you gave something unexpected to your customer?  When was the last time you added real value to a transaction beyond what was agreed or expected?  When was the last time you took the time to find out what your customers really like, and then over-delivered it, or created a conversation around it that they could participate in or created an event based on that thing for them to attend?

This is what smart marketers do, on every level.  They first agree what the structure of the relationship is going to be:  I’m going to sell you gourmet food and wine in a fine dining atmosphere; I’m going to provide insightful television programming; I’m going to design clothes that you’ll want to wear; whatever.  But once that structure is set up, the smart marketer looks to add these three key ingredients:  surprise, value, context.  So the attentive marketer needs to watch his or her customers carefully, learn what they like, learn what they value, and then surprise them with something perfectly timed and perfectly tuned.

How can you add these three elements into your future marketing?  Whether you’re a small, local business or a multi-national corporation with thousands of employees, give your customers a gift every now and then, and you’ll find they give them right back in the form of deeper relationships, more referrals, maybe even brand loyalty.

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