Dr. Freelance: I totally agree with your recent post about the benefits of hand-written thank you notes. I have a follow-up question that I’m hoping you can advise me on: What’s your position on bringing advertising specialties (logoed pens, coffee mugs, magnets, etc.) to a first client meeting?—A Freelancer Bearing Gifts
FBG: I’ll answer the question of whether you should bring a gift to a first client meeting by way of anecdote. When I started my business, I printed up a hundred or so small notepads with my logo and contact information on it to hand out to prospective clients. They were professional-looking, printed on nice paper…but when I was honest with myself, it wasn’t really a “wow” item. They weren’t terribly expensive, yet I don’t believe I received a measurable return on investment.
To make matters worse, when I moved my office, some of the contact info was immediate outdated. (I solved the problem by having the printer trim off the bottom 1/2 inch.) Then, I changed the name of my business and the pads were instantly, completely obsolete. As a result, my family has a lifetime supply of grocery-list paper.
So that’s my own experience. My second data point is something that I learned in a sales seminar, and it goes something like this:
- If you give a person a pen, they’ll remember it for a few days.
- If you give a person a pen with your logo on it, they’ll remember it for a few days.
- If you give a person a nice pen with *their* name on it, they’ll not only remember who gave it to them, they’ll probably hold on to it for a lot longer.
The problem with advertising specialties is that the cheap ones aren’t memorable, and the expensive ones likely aren’t suitable for a first client meeting—it may come across as crass and overtly salesy before you have a relationship. Check your own experience: How many logoed items from your vendors/clients/business associates are in active use? I think my most memorable one was a cool-looking, comfortable baseball hat from Free Range Productions. I wore it all the time.
All that being said, I am a big believer in giving a nice, personal gift on an annual basis to say “thank you” to my best clients. Since we’re heading into the holiday season, I’ll do an upcoming post on items I’ve given in the past and what I’m considering for this year.
So, fellow freelancers, how about you? Do you bring a gift to a first client meeting that’s been successful? Please share in the comments.