How to Give Holiday Business Gifts


While most people believe that the best time to give holiday business gifts is in the week or two leading up to Christmas, there are several compelling reasons to choose either Thanksgiving or New Year for business-related gift-giving.

Although Christmas is traditionally a time to give and receive gifts in our culture, there are several reasons to choose a different time:

1) Many offices close or individuals choose this time to take time off. Your gift won’t get to them if they are not there. Worse, if it is a food gift, it may even spoil before it is received.

2) Not everyone celebrates Christmas. While a gift of appreciation is always welcomed, the fact is that we don’t want to alienate anyone by not recognizing that people do have different beliefs and celebrate those at various times of the year. In light of this, why not take advantage of other holidays throughout the year to show appreciation to your clients, employees, referral sources, vendors and others who have made your business a success over the past year?

3) By giving your business gift when everyone else’s is delivered, you run the risk of getting lost in the deluge of baskets, boxes and cards.

By giving your business gifts either at Thanksgiving or just after New Year’s, you are guaranteed to beat the holiday rush of gifts that become a jumble of items and baskets with no one quite remembering what came from who. You will either be amongst the very first gifts to arrive (if not the first), or one of the very last; making you stand out among the crowd.

What better time to give a gift in thanks of new business, continued business, loyalty from employees, appreciation of referrals and/or great support and service from vendors than Thanksgiving? The sentiment will be well appreciated at this most appropriate and American of holidays. Since Thanksgiving is about one month before most people’s gifts arrive, yours will never get lost in the shuffle, giving you that extra wow factor.

Are you afraid that it will look like the recipient was an afterthought on the gift list if you opt for a post-New Year gift? It won’t if you treat it as a gift in thanks for their business last year and the anticipation of yet another successful year working together.

Networking Groups Require Patience to Show Value


Many small business owners or salespeople I know are members of networking groups. Some belong to Le Tip, others to BNI, some to a Chamber sponsored group, and others to independent groups. For the most part, they find their membership in these groups to be a valuable tool in their marketing arsenal.

As part of the consulting side of Lev Promotions, I spend time with clients and groups educating them on how to utilize these networking groups successfully. When people tell me that they tried membership in one of these types of groups and it just didn’t work for them, more often than not, I find out that they attended meetings for one to three months and hadn’t yet gotten any business, so they stopped going.

What people often fail to realize is that networking groups are based on building relationships and trust between members. Having a brand name that people recognize helps build that trust faster. Many of the companies who join these groups are small, local companies that don’t have that name-brand reputation. Part of joining a networking group is to help build a name for themselves in the community and that takes time.

Patience is a must when joining a networking group and the more expensive or unusual your product or service, the longer you may have to wait for that desired referral. Keep in mind, also, that different types of businesses may need fewer referrals per year to make their membership worthwhile. A Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant needs to make far more sales based on referrals in one year to break even on her annual membership; but, just one referral that converts to a closed sale for a real estate agent will more than pay for those same dues.

By the same token, that Mary Kay consultant will usually receive her first referral within the first two months of membership, since most women are familiar with the brand name and know that supporting the new member to the group might mean an outlay of as few as $10.00.

The real estate agent has to wait until someone in the group needs to buy or sell a home, or knows someone who has a need. In addition, they need to have proven that they are trustworthy enough to “earn” the referral for an item that is usually the largest purchase of a person’s life.

The hardest part of the waiting period is that the new member may not be giving referrals him/herself. After all, s/he needs to get to know and trust the group members just as much as they need to get to know the newbie. Sometimes older members see this as a lack of value being brought by the new member. They key to overcoming this is to interact with the members – arrange meetings with them over coffee or a meal outside of the meetings to get to know them better and faster; ask intelligent questions at meetings which show that you have an interest in the educational material or member information being presented. Make every effort to be a participant in the events of the meetings, not just an observer.

I encourage most of my clients to explore the world of networking groups. I tell them that they must find one that meets two criteria: 1) Commitment to attendance is everything: find a group that meets at a location convenient to home or office (since most meetings occur first thing in the morning, during lunch, or right after work) and go to every meeting. 2) Find a group fits your personality. Each group, even within organizations like BNI or Le Tip) has a different personality: some are very serious, while others are light-hearted or even  bawdy. Some group leaders treat members like children, whereas others have no control over the meetings at all, and then there’s the happy medium. Find the group that you are comfortable in and it will make the attendance commitment that much easier.

Then, go out and refer!

Why Some Business Thrive in a Down Economy


I was at a networking event this morning where people were going on and on about how bad the economy is and how there is no end in sight. I am well aware that unemployment is still inexcusably high, and really higher than what is being reported due to people who have given up looking and/or are just no longer eligible for unemployment benefits. That being said, many of my clients are seeing an uptick in their revenues this year.

Speaking for Lev Promotions, I can say that by the end of this past June, we’d already hit gross sales revenues that equaled those for all of 2009!

What’s the secret that these companies who are surviving and thriving in this economy share? Marketing!

The truth of the matter is that, if a company stops marketing, or pulls back on its marketing efforts to the point that its clients and prospects notice it lack of visibility, people will start to believe that that company is in trouble. If they believe that the company is in trouble, then the next step is to start looking for a place that can supply the same products and/or services should the original company go out of business or be unable to fulfill its obligations to them. Once a client/prospect starts to look, the danger of them taking their business elsewhere increases exponentially.

By developing and sticking to a marketing plan that makes sense based on your company’s current economic situation while maintaining some semblance of consistency, you will not only show that you are in it for the long haul, but that you are thriving enough to put the time, money and effort into marketing. That inspires confidence and you can become the company that people start looking at as the ship to jump to.

Industry Trade Shows Are Important


For the past two years, attendance at trade shows has dropped. For some smaller shows, the drop in the previous year’s attendance and/or registration for the upcoming show has even caused the show to be cancelled completely. Having just returned from one of my industry trade shows (where I was an attendee, not an exhibitor) where attendance seemed a lighter than usual, I think it’s a shame. Or maybe, it’s a good thing for me!

I make it a point to speak to some of my suppliers (the exhibitors) at the trade shows I attend to see if the show is reading as a success for them. After all, if it’s not productive for them, they probably won’t invest the money, time and effort to come back next year. The one comment that I have heard consistently from these exhibitors over the last two years (that’s four trade shows I’ve been to), is that attendance is down, but the quality of the attendees is up – and that applied whether the attendees are small, home-based businesses or nationwide companies. I’ve asked some of my clients going to their industry trade shows to ask the exhibitors the same thing, and the answers seem to be very similar, no matter the industry.

It seems that the economy has weeded out a majority of the dabblers in industries across the board. What we’re left with are companies who are serious about what they do, understand the value of attending an industry trade show for professional development, to learn what’s new in the industry, to network, and to get/stay motivated.

Next time you have the opportunity to attend a trade show relevant to your business, whether it’s a tabletop show, a regional show, a national show, or international show, just do it! You will learn, you will be inspired and you will come away ready to grow your business!