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July 21, 2021

Episode 018: How to Create the Perfect Client Welcome Gift

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In this week’s episode of Priority Pursuit, we’re continuing our client experience conversation. If you listened to “Episode 017: How to Create a Client Experience that Allows You to Book More Clients & Raise Your Prices,” you know that more often than not, the quality of the client experience you offer is far more important to your clients than the quality of the products or services you offer. (It hurts. I know, but bear with me!)

And, a great way to help your clients see value in working with you right from the start is to send a welcome gift or box.

Adding a client welcome gift to VRP bride and grooms’ experience with me has been a game changer for my business, and with this in mind, in this week’s episode of Priority Pursuit, we’re going to be discussing how to create the perfect client welcome gift!

What kind of creative entrepreneurs should be sending a welcome gift?

First of all, what kinds of creative entrepreneurs can benefit from sending welcome gifts?

Any small business can use the welcome gift idea to serve and delight their clients, and if you can swing it—even if it’s a little gift—I highly recommend at least considering using this customer service tactic.

However, if you provide a service that is going to require an ongoing relationship with your customers, especially if what you offer is on the pricier side, you definitely want to send a welcome gift!

For example, because my couples tend to book their wedding photography packages about a year before their wedding and my packages include a one-year anniversary session, my relationship with a VRP bride and groom lasts about two years. This means that for two full years, I need to be focused on serving my clients well. And, a welcome gift is a great way to serve my couples well from the get go!

Again, while I do think any creative entrepreneur can use a welcome gift and that a welcome gift is an easy way to under promise and over deliver to customers, welcome gifts are especially important for wedding photographers, web designers, personal trainers, hair stylists, and other service providers who will be working with their clients for an extended amount of time.

Why should you send a welcome box or gift to your clients?

Now, I know putting a client welcome box together can take quite a bit of work (It’ll be easy once you have a system. Promise!), so in case this helps, there are three reasons I want to encourage you to send welcome gifts.

1. A client welcome gift will make your clients feel loved & cared for.

If you listened to “Episode 014: 4 Easy Ways You Can Under Promise & Over Deliver to Your Customers,” you know that surprising your clients is a great way to make them feel cared for and well served. And, a welcome gift is a great way to surprise your clients!

While you should certainly share an itemized list of everything your clients can expect to receive from you (likely on your website), the welcome gift should not be on this list. As a result, the gift is added value and a true surprise for your clients!

2. A welcome gift will give your clients instant value.

In addition to surprising your clients, a welcome gift is also a great way to give your clients instant value.

We’ll talk about more of what’s in my box below, but the highlight of my box is my wedding or bridal guide—a magazine that walks couples through every part of the wedding photography process. (While I rewrote my copy, I used the Katelyn James Bridal Guide as the design template, which you can find here if you’re interested!)

This guide is packed with wedding day tips and tricks, and brides rave about it because it’s full of value specifically for them.

3. This instant value will help prevent buyer’s remorse.

And, last but not least, a welcome gift can help prevent buyer’s remorse, especially if what you offer is an expensive or luxury service.

I mean, think about wedding photography for instance. When couples book their wedding photographer, they’re potentially putting down thousands of dollars, and it will likely be months before they see their engagement photos and a full year before their wedding photos are even taken. Couples have a lot of time to second guess their decision.

However, a welcome gift that gives them immediate value can help put them at ease and confidence in their wedding photographer. And, a client welcome gift can do the same for your clients!

What should you include in your welcome box?

Now, there are obviously quite a few reasons to send a welcome gift, but what the heck should you put in it?

In my experience, a strong welcome box includes items that are both:

  1. Helpful to your ideal customer
  2. True to your brand

For example, because part of my brand is encouraging people to support small businesses, the welcome gift I send my couples is full of products that I think will come in handy during the wedding planning process and are from local Lafayette, Indiana businesses.

My box includes:

  1. A wedding guide (Again, I used the Katelyn James template!) to walk couples through the wedding photo process
  2. A t-shirt that says “fiancee” in my font printed through Freckles Graphics for the bride
  3. A lavender vanilla candle from Antique Candle Co., which is a calming scent perfect for wedding planning
  4. A pack of thank you cards from Roseberry & Co. since couples surely have lots of people to thank while wedding planning
  5. Shirt stays for the groom (Full disclosure. This is the only non-local item. I couldn’t find any locally.)
  6. Sugar cookies from Cakes by Lex (One is an engagement ring and the other says “Mr. and Mrs.” Both are in my brand colors.)
  7. A hand-written thank you note

As you can see, everything in my box is both helpful to brides and grooms and true to my brand.

So, what should be in your box, friend?

If you haven’t listened to “Episode 007: How to Develop & Communicate Your Brand as a Creative Entrepreneur,” I highly recommend going back and listening to this episode and identifying your brand topics. Once your brand topics are solidified, you’ll likely find inspiration.

For example, are you a web designer who loves a good cocktail? Send a cocktail kit with a note saying your goal is to make the website build process as stress-free as possible, but the gift is to take the edge off if your clients need it.

Are you a wedding photographer who loves coffee? Send a coffee themed box to give couples a little extra pep in their step during wedding planning.

Or, are you a personal trainer who really pushes drinking water? Send your clients a new water bottle with stickers or magnets that say, “Take a sip!” or something they can use as a reminder to drink more water.

There are so many options, and a welcome box can really help solidify what comes to mind when your clients think about your brand.

Side Note: Don’t put your logo all over everything. You likely don’t love when other businesses do this, and your clients won’t like it if you do it either. Instead, if you have something made custom, use your fonts and brand colors but don’t plaster your logo everywhere. 

Now, in addition to these goodies, I think it’s important—if applicable—to include some kind of educational material or guide in your box that helps clients understand what it’s going to be like to work with you and what they can expect.

While you’re certainly going to talk about what you’re going to do for your clients during the sales process, including a guide or even just a short pamphlet breaking down your processes helps reiterate those expectations to your customers.

How much should you spend on a welcome gift?

Now, this might sound like a lot, but the items in your box by no means have to be expensive, friend. If anything, you should base the value of the box off of the value of the service you’re providing.

A good rule of thumb is that 3-5% of a client’s investment should be used toward client gifts. So, as you decide how much you should be spending on your box (as well as other gifts you plan to give your clients), simply keep this rule in mind!

Also, when you buy in bulk, many places will give you a discount if you just ask. For example, I order almost everything in my box in bulk to save a little money. Then, when a new couple books, I already have everything on hand to prep the couple’s box and get it in the mail ASAP.

But, regardless of your budget, sending a client a gift of any kind or price after they book is going to make them feel loved and cared for, so don’t let cost scare you!

How do you design a welcome gift?

Once you decide to add a welcome gift to your client experience, you need to design the gift’s packaging.

There are a lot of options out there, but I think it’s important for your packaging to be true to your visual brand and reflect the level of service that you offer. For example, if you want to be viewed as a luxury service, it’s important that your welcome box packaging reflects that.

Mailer Box Options

I think it’s safe to say that most of us will be mailing welcome boxes, so with this in mind, let’s start by talking about mailer packaging options.

There might be a business local to you who can assist you, but if you’d like to take advantage of an online option, Packlane does an incredible job with custom mailer boxes. You can design your package right on their website and make it completely custom to your brand.

Full Disclosure: When I’m ready to order more boxes, I’ll be using Packlane. Right now, I am finishing up some boxes from Uline and stickers. You can see a photo below, but basically, I have a white box and a large sticker that wraps around two sides of the box to keep the box shut. 

I wasn’t sure what size box I was going to need when we started this project, and I still have several left. This isn’t the most convenient option because putting the sticker on the box is sort of a headache, which is why I definitely want to go with Packlane in the future, but the box and sticker have been an affordable option for me, and if I do say so myself, it looks nice! 

Designing the Interior of Your Gift

After you’ve determined which mailer box you’ll be using, you need to think about the packaging of the inside of your box. I mean, when your clients open it, you want it to be pretty!

So, here are a few things to think about:

  1. What kind of filler do you need to keep your gifts safe? (I use crinkle paper because I think it’s the nicest-looking option.)
  2. Do you need ribbon or anything like that to keep items together and add a pop of your brand colors?
  3. Do any items need to be wrapped?
  4. Is there anything else you can add to your box that makes it even more visually consistent with your brand, such as stickers or even sprigs of eucalyptus?

The possibilities are endless, but you simply want to try to make sure your box is welcoming and true to your brand.

How do you find time to send welcome boxes?

I know your schedule is packed and adding one more thing might sound impossible, but once you have a system down, client welcome boxes won’t take up much of your time. Promise!

Personally, I have everything I need for gift boxes in bulk. I keep a couple packaged at all times, (with the exception of the cookies that I pull from the freezer), which makes packing and shipping quick and simple.

If that’s too much for you, no worries! This is definitely something you can outsource.

Chances are, there’s somewhere near you that can take care of this for you. (If you’re in or near Lafayette, Indiana, Richelle in a Handbasket is a great option!) Whether there’s a local business who does this kind of thing or you want to simply hire someone every now and then (even a high school or college student) to put boxes together for you, that can absolutely be arranged.

Want to learn more about outsourcing & building a team? Check out “Episode 011: How to Build Your Team as a Creative Entrepreneur with Jessie Roseberry of Roseberry & Co.”!

If that isn’t the case, there are also online options. For example, Marigold Grey offers both premade themed gift boxes and custom boxes. You essentially just let them know what and when you want to send a gift box, and they take care of the rest!

Regardless of what your schedule looks like, if a client welcome gift is a priority for your business, there’s a way to make it happen!

It’s time to create your client welcome gift!

I know creating a client welcome gift might seem like extra work, but friend, I can tell you from experience that making a welcome box part of your client experience is a game changer.

I mean, almost whenever I send a welcome box, my brides send the sweetest messages and almost always post photos of their gift on their Instagram stories or to social media.

Long story short, as a service provider, adding a welcome box to your client experience is a great way to up level your customer service, educate your clients, solidify your brand, and give your clients immediate value so they’re excited to work with you.

So, what are you waiting for? You now know how to create the perfect client welcome gift, so get to it! And, in case this helps, you can see photos of my welcome box below!

included in Victoria Rayburn Photography's client welcome gift included in Victoria Rayburn Photography's client welcome gift Sugar cookie included in Victoria Rayburn Photography's client welcome gift Bridal guide and shirt stays included in Victoria Rayburn Photography's client welcome gift Victoria Rayburn Photography's client welcome box Sugar cookie included in Victoria Rayburn Photography's client welcome gift

Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode

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Leverage Kelly’s marketing experience, insights, and leadership to grow your business.

As the founder and chief marketing strategist at Treefrog Marketing, a co-host of the Priority Pursuit Podcast, a StoryBrand Certified Guide, and fractional chief marketing officer, Kelly Rice has spent more than two decades helping small businesses take their companies to the next level by providing trustworthy leadership and building effective marketing strategies and systems.

She has dedicated her career to helping small businesses succeed because she knows, firsthand, how hard they work to make their communities a better place. 

Still, many people undervalue the strength and ingenuity of small businesses, but not Kelly. She believes they deserve to have a marketing partner and strategy that works as hard as they do.

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