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What to Write on Cards When Giving Corporate Gifts

An entire corporate gift-giving culture exists. It’s not something the average person thinks about, but if you have a company where you must cultivate client or customer relationships, it’s vitally important.

If you give a customer or client the right gift, it helps establish loyalty. If you don’t bother getting a client something, that might mean you don’t care about them, or at least they might perceive it that way.

You should consider getting your best clients or customers gifts and cards on their birthdays, around the holidays, or any other appropriate time. You’ll need to consider your relationship when determining when to give your clients gifts. You’ll also need to customize the gift depending on the customer or client relationship.

When you give a client a gift, you’ll probably need to send over a card as well. Let’s talk about what you should write on it.

Consider Your Relationship

High-end corporate gifts for VIP clients might cost thousands of dollars or more in some instances. That seems like a lot, but think about it. If a client gives you millions of dollars in business, a gift that costs thousands doesn’t seem so unreasonable.

Let’s say you get your client an expensive watch or perhaps some sports tickets. You’ll want to present that gift as nicely as possible. You should think just as much about the card as you should about the present, though.

If you just started your professional relationship with this client, the card should reflect that. You’ll want to use formal language and simply thank them for choosing your company. You don’t have a multi-year relationship and many memories together to consider. You want to seem warm but not inappropriately informal.

If you know your client well, maybe you’ve been through a lot together. Perhaps you’re the client’s lawyer, and you’ve navigated some hazardous legal territory with them. They might feel close to you in such a situation.

If so, you can probably put something less formal on the card. You can refer to some private in-joke that your client will recognize. You can try to make them laugh or smile and think of you and your company fondly when they read that message.

Consider the Length

You’ll want to think about the note’s length when you write it. You probably only have the space on the card itself unless you want to include some additional notebook paper or something similar.

Generally, you can write your client an email or text message if you have something longer to say to them. A note that comes with a corporate gift should contain only a few lines.

You can probably keep things punchy and fun unless you know your client hasn’t had the best time lately. Perhaps they’ve lost a spouse, or they’ve had some financial setbacks.

If so, you might want to refer to that delicately, if at all. Maybe you’ll mention it or refer to it just to let your client know you’re thinking about them and that you hope their fortunes will turn around soon. You don’t have to compose several paragraphs. A couple of lines that convey the appropriate spirit should suffice.

Consider Who Might See It

If you have a long client relationship going back many years, you might know things about that client that few other people do. Maybe you know they’ve done things they don’t want to ever spread to the world at large.

If so, you should write something tactful on the card. You don’t need to ever refer to something you know the client doesn’t want spreading around, even obliquely. Instead, you should stick to pleasantries. You don’t know if someone besides the client or customer might see that card by accident and jump to some conclusion through your carelessness.

Think About Having Someone Else Write the Message

Maybe you get your client a gift and a card to go with it, but you know that you have atrocious handwriting. If so, you might ask an administrative assistant or someone similar to write down what you dictate on the card. You can sign your name to it and know the recipient won’t struggle to read the rest.

You might even ask an administrative assistant to write the card’s substance. That all depends on the client relationship. If you don’t know the client well, you might ask your assistant to write something friendly but general and bland. You can’t get very specific with the messaging if you don’t know much about this particular person.

If you have a professional copywriter working for you, you might ask them to write the message or at least proofread it. Only compose it yourself if you feel confident that you have solid writing skills.

Try to Convey You Value the Client

Whatever tone you strike when you write the card, ensure that you convey to the client that you value them and wish to retain them. You probably need that relationship to continue, and this message and gift mean more with high-value clients that help your company stay afloat.

Make sure the client understands that you and your whole company always stand ready to help them with whatever they need that you can provide. If your message causes you to lose that client, you’ll never forgive yourself if you said something inappropriate or thoughtless that didn’t adequately convey how much this person meant.

Once you feel confident that you got the card and messaging right, make sure it gets to the client on time. If it is a holiday card and gift, it should get there a few days before the holiday. You should also do the same with any birthday gifts and cards that your company sends.

If you nailed the gift and card’s messaging, you can probably retain that client and continue the relationship. These efforts matter more than you might think, so don’t skimp on the gift or say anything out of line.

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By Susan Barlow

Dr. Susan Barlow is retired from academia after teaching business administration, project management, and business writing courses for over 20 years.

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