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Marketing: Holiday Gift Ideas
For Your Voice Over Clients

By Maxine Dunn
Voice Actor & Solopreneur

Don't you just love receiving gifts? I know I do!
It's such a lovely surprise to answer the door and see the FedEx guy standing there with an unexpected present or to open your mailbox and recognize a friend's name on the return address on a package.
Gifts make you feel good. And they make you feel good to give, as well as receive.
They are a wonderful way to express your gratitude. And this goes for "little" gifts as well as "big" ones.
And although you probably think of your friends and family as your primary gift recipients for birthdays and Christmas and the like, it's equally as important to bestow this generosity on your voice over clients as well.
I had an interesting experience recently: Almost 100 percent of the activity in my voice over career that week came from referrals from my clients.
In other words, clients I currently work for were recommending me to others, which resulted in more work for me and a growth spurt in my client base.
One of these referrals in particular has resulted in a significant new client. Now that is something that I'm very thankful for.
I realized that I needed to reward my referring client in a major way for sending me such a "gift."  A brand new client!
So it occurred to me that I need to share my gift-giving ideas with you.
I've also received several great client gift ideas from fellow voice over pros as well, so I'll share them as well.
The following are some helpful guidelines that you can use in your own client gift-giving strategies.
Occasions to give your clients gifts include:
  • The anniversary of your first booking with them. Their birthday, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Thanksgiving, etc.
  • They've used your services consistently for months (or years) and you want to send a heartfelt "Thank You!"
  • Your client has referred you to a new contact, which did not result in work.
  • Your client has referred you to a new contact which did result in work.
  • Your client has written a glowing testimonial for you to include on your website.
  • Your client bought a new puppy. Don't laugh. Clients with pets LOVE pet toys and gift cards to pet stores. 
  • Your client's daughter just got married and you know he'll be needing some new picture frames.
The gift should be appropriate for the occasion and not be "too small" or "too big."
For example, if you're just sending a short note to a client's receptionist, thanking her for her help, a Starbuck's gift card or a pretty bookmark would be appropriate. A pair of earrings would not.
On the other hand, if a client referral has resulted in a new five-figure client for you, a thank-you gift of a handsome desk clock would be appropriate. A Starbuck's gift card would not.
Do you see what I mean?
Your client gifts need to be well thought out and personalized. Don't just buy "one size fits all" and send it to everyone.
Keep in mind the details of the person you're giving the gift to. Gifts should be appropriate for the client.
If you're a woman, it's permissible to give more personal gifts than it is for a man.
Gifts from women to female clients can include:
  • A novel you think she'll enjoy.
  • Soaps and lotions.
  • Travel comfort accessories such as neck pillows, socks, and eye masks.
  • A scarf (an inexpensive silk square or expensive cashmere wrap).
  • Candle sets.
  • A journal notebook.
  • A jeweled or personalized business card case.
  • An attractive desk clock.
Gifts to male clients can include:
  • Gourmet food baskets.
  • Wine.
  • An elegant, understated picture frame.
  • A letter opener.
  • Computer accessories, for example, a USB flash drive or USB accessory.
  • A business card holder for the desktop or a business card case.
  • An unique coffee mug set.
If you're a man, be less personal in your gift choices, especially when giving to female clients.
Gifts from men to female clients can include:
  • Books, CDs, DVDs, or audiobooks in their areas of interest.
  • A leatherbound notepad or address book.
  • Travel accessories.
  • Desk accessories.
  • Gourmet food baskets or wine baskets.
  • An attractive calculator or paperweight.
Gifts to male clients can include:
  • Gifts related to an interest or hobby, such as  fishing, golf, travel, cars, etc.
  • Desk clocks and desk sets with a masculine theme.
  • Objects d'art.
  • Gourmet food baskets and/or wine baskets.
  • Accessory trays.
  • Electronics.
When considering gifts for international clients, it's important to take the cultural aspect of gift-giving into consideration.
When you're purchasing a gift for an international client, consider sending something that is an example of your own culture.
For example, if you're an American, this can include:
  • Items related to American arts.
  • Coffee table books on gardening and scenery.
  • Items related to American architecture and design.
  • Music, books, CDs and DVDs.
Note: When sending gifts to international clients, be careful not to send something that was manufactured in their country.
For example, when sending a gift to a client in Hong Kong, try to avoid purchasing a gift that has a tag that reads, "Made in China."
Also be thoughtful and aware when sending international gifts. 
For example, if sending an Indian client a gift, do not give anything that is made of cowhide to a Hindu, as the cow is sacred in India.
When gifting Muslim clients, be certain not to include anything that is made from pork, for instance a pigskin binder.
When gifting Asian clients, be aware that white, for example a white flower arrangement, is the symbol of death and mourning in parts of Asia.
In other words, be culturally aware when planning your gift giving.
Okay! Now onto some gift ideas for your clients.
I've divided these up into price categories. You'll need to use your best judgment in choosing a gift for a man or a woman.
$25 and under:
  • Letter opener.
  • Candle set.
  • Printed scarf or pashmina shawl.
  • Personalized leather iPad cover.
  • Set of unique coasters.
  • Lavender and flaxseed-filled relaxing eye pillow.
  • Swiss army "pink camo" multi-use tool.
  • Photo frame.
  • Vera Bradley Poppy Field pencil box and sharpener.
  • Mini-flashlights and pen lights.
$25 - $50:
  • Ice cream, brownies, cookies, gourmet food basket.
  • Business card case - a jeweled or vintage style for women.
  • Business card case for men - rosewood top.
  • Pocketwatch-style desk clocks in small, medium, or large sizes.
  • Luxurious quick nap pillow from Brookstone.  
  • Anything from MoMA  (Museum of Modern Art gift store).
  • Windpro auto umbrella that won't blow inside out. Perfect for men or women.
  • USB pen flash drive - 2 GB.
  • Floral etched purse mirror. 
$50 - $100:
  • Gourmet food or wine basket.
  • Museum art, small sculpture.
  • Swiss Army knife or multi-use tool. 
  • Cashmere/wool pashmina shawl for women.
  • Neck scarf for men.
$100 - $200:
  • Matching pen and pencil set.
  • Cozy faux fur coverlets, baby blankets, and pet beds. 
  • Binoculars.
  • Weekender travel bag with space for laptop.
  • Italian leather tie case for the traveling executive. 
  • Gift card to Neiman Marcus.
One of my favorite marketing activities is looking for gifts for my clients. Have fun with it!
And if the thought crosses your mind that: "Well, they probably already have one of those."  Or, "I'm not sure they'd like that." then just let that thought go right away.
Clients love to receive presents, don't you? So don't worry if they "have one of those already."
Just find something you like that you think they'll love and send it!  It not only makes you feel good to be expressing your gratitude by sending an unexpected gift, I guarantee that you'll make their day.

I’d love for you to leave a comment below, and let us know your ideas for great gifts for clients!

Maxine Dunn is a top voice over artist and on-camera spokesperson who has been seen and heard in hundreds of commercials, documentaries, corporate narrations, voice mail systems and websites. She is a British native and her ability to also deliver a perfect American accent gives her business a wide range. She works with Fortune 100 companies, award-winning creative teams, and maintains an extensive clientele - locally, nationally, and internationally. Best known for her voice over and spokesperson expertise, she is also an avid writer who enjoys bringing stimulating and motivating material to her readers. Her free weekly e-zine, The Creative Business Advisor, is available at her website (below).

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Comments (7)
Maxine Dunn
11/22/2011 at 2:47 PM
Hi Jack,

I just LOVE your idea! Especially the one: A Milwaukee voice talent sending Wisconsin cheese to New York. :-) Super, super ideas to send products from one state to another when sending within the USA.

Thanks so much for chiming in!

Jack Bair
11/15/2011 at 11:18 PM
Great article as usual Maxine, I'm thinking products from one state to another as in Michigan wines sent to clients in Texas or a voice talent in Milwaukee sending Wisconsin cheese to New York. A small winery just opened up near me (I live 18 miles from Kalamazoo) their wines sell only on that farm so a gift from there to a Kalamazoo client would carry a little extra interest, a local cultural thing. I'll have to taste it first.
Maxine Dunn
11/14/2011 at 9:29 AM
Hi everyone, and thank you so much for your wonderful ideas!

Peter, I love your thoughtful comment about scented gifts and thank you very much for weighing in. You make a good point. Scents are a very personal thing and can mean many different things to many people.

I did quite a bit of research (with my own clients) when I was putting the article together and discovered that overwhelmingly the sentiment from them was appreciation, no matter what the gift was. I do think it’s a very good idea to be thoughtful and carefully select the gifts we send to clients, but I believe it’s also possible to “over think” the gifts we send by trying to be too safe. I'm not suggesting being careless of course, but I know it's impossible to accurately determine what every single person would like or want.

Several clients said specifically that even if they received a gift that they didn’t like, they were astonished and grateful that the voice talent had even taken the time and effort to get them something. Apparently voice actors who get clients gifts are in the minority! One client told me that a voice actor had given him a one-pound bag of M&M’s as a present. He said he hated chocolate, but loved the gift, and he gave the M&M’s to his administrative assistant and she loved them.

Thank you again for all your great comments and I hope others weigh in with their ideas. ‘Tis the season!

Peter Drew
9/27/2011 at 10:46 AM
Excellent list, Maxine. One caveat: being married to someone with severe allergies and after researching the problem to find help for her, I've learned that many people have problems with scented products. A lavender filled eye pillow, scented candles, flowers, etc. might be troublesome to some people. Also, scents are very personal. If you send a client something containing your favorite fragrance, you might inadvertently turn that client off because it's a scent they don't like. Researchers in Israel discovered that much of our preference in and dislike for fragrances is genetically determined. I might love, say, citrus-based fragrances, but someone else might hate them. (Personally, I don't like those citrus-based fragrances. And some other perfumes smell like Raid insecticide to me.)

I wouldn't send a scented gift, but, if I were considering it, I'd discreetly try to find out from the client if they liked fragrances before sending something to them. The sense of smell is our most personal and emotional sense, which makes it the most risky gift category to select when trying to please a client or anyone on your gift list.
Roxanne Hernandez
9/26/2011 at 12:26 PM
Hey, Maxine. Great article. I've been sending holiday gifts to my clients for the past 3 years. You've given me some good gift ideas. Thank you.

Sometimes, Gift Baskets are in order. I work with a handful of companies where I am in contact with several people at an office and I like to send something they can all enjoy.

This year I'm going to send out some individual gifts in addition. I'm going to send audiobooks to my favorite clients. Not necessarily ones I have narrated, but some of my personal favorites as a listener. For example, the recently released Mark of Zorro (Blackstone Audio) is a wonderfully entertaining full cast audio drama that most people will enjoy. It's also good family listening.

We can give gifts and support our fellow voice actors in the process!!
Naomi McMillan
9/26/2011 at 12:14 PM
I loved your ideas and guidelines for different levels of gifts. I struggle with what's appropriate a lot of the time, and I agree, you just need to keep in mind how much fun it is to receive an unexpected gift!!!
Debbie Irwin
9/26/2011 at 8:22 AM
Like you, I'm always looking for new ideas....
Thanks for sharing yours.

Here's one other suggestion: a gift that is thematically related to the project. Over the summer I met the producer/director of a documentary film I co-narrated about the German Jewish Modernist architect Erich Mendelsohn.

While at the MOMA Store in NYC (which you list above), I found 3 architecture-related items, all with Frank Lloyd Wright designs, which I bought:
cocktail napkins, playing cards and a bookmark.

Because Mendelsohn and FLW had a relationship there was some meaning to these items, plus in my thank you note I suggested that these could be ideas for products with Mendelsohn's designs.

He loved it.

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