Traditionally, at the end of each calendar year, creatives design or curate a gift for clients.
This year, I think we should do something different…
There’s no white-washing it, it’s been a really tough year for everyone.
Creatives struggled but really, working remotely was the least of our worries. Most of us were accustomed to working from home, at least part of the time.
Clients on the other hand – especially the corporates – were more definitive about their work/life balance. While they took phone calls and may have had a work laptop, most didn’t own a monitor or a desk, or an appropriate chair. Over the succession of lockdowns (especially in Melbourne) they were on a road of continual reinvention. Add home schooling and a partner doing business from the other end of the dining room table and it’s a recipe for disaster.
The end of year is the perfect time to acknowledge we understand their struggle.
All the research about how clients choose their design partner talks about them wanting a relationship of trust. Trust in an ability to understand the brief, trust in an ability to manage a budget and trust in an ability to deliver. It’s a trust built on a personal relationship. Clients want to work with creatives who understand them and their challenges on a personal level.
Choosing an end of year gift
It may be a rash generalisation but I’m not sure any client expects a generic, lavish gift this year. Instead, consider something more personal.
And what could be more personal than a hand-written note, from one person to another?
A hand-written note to say to your client, I acknowledge it’s been a tough year, I appreciate your trust in our abilities and I enjoy working together.
I acknowledge it’s been a tough year,
I appreciate your trust in our abilities
and I enjoy working together.
Sure, it could be an email, but a handwritten note, perhaps with a bottle of bubbly or an artisian block of chocolate would make a much greater impact. The small gift is just to support the note:
Sheeesh it’s been a tough year. I know how difficult it’s been for you … add something specific to your client here such as … home schooling (name of child), working from a laptop on the dining room table …
I really appreciate your trust in our abilities, I’m thankful you …took the time to get the briefs together / compromised with how we deliver presentations / took to Slack so well…
And I’d just like you to know I really enjoy working together … I love your openness to our ideas, I particularly enjoyed the xxx campaign / I am so proud of this year’s Annual Report.
Put it in the mail
Most clients are returning to the office a couple of days a week, so they’ll receive a handwritten note mailed to their workplace (but best to do it at the start of December to make it Australia-post proof). If in doubt, drop it off to reception.
The handwritten note is not a replacement to the Christmas card often displayed for the office to see. This note is personal, from you to them.
If you were a client, wouldn’t you love that acknowledgement?
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About Carol Mackay
After 30+ years running a graphic design firm, Carol pivoted from client-focused projects to consult to the design industry.
Carol’s special power has always been an ability to use design to translate difficult to understand or complex messages. She believes design brings clarity to complex issues. From clarity comes understanding, and understanding leads to knowledge.
As a designer she used those skills with clients like The Magistrates, County and Supreme Courts; Ombudsman schemes and Emergency Service agencies. At DBC she uses the same skills to help designers de-mystify the complexities of managing a small business.
Outside of DBC Carol mentors graduates and is an active volunteer at Never Not Creative, a community of creatives pushing for change in the creative industry.