I love giving presents. I get more excited than my kids do. I am horrible at keeping gifts a secret.
Every time I build a new tool for gym owners or create a new handbook, I feel amazing—that’s why we spend around $20,000 per month publishing this stuff and then giving it away for free. Here ya go!
I love giving my gym clients the Intramural Open experience every year. It feels like I’m giving them a present.
I love giving my coaches an annual shopping spree on me at Christmas.
I love giving less-fortunate families in our community a huge present every year (we call it “The Gift”).
But the greatest gift I give is opportunity and empowerment.
When a gym owner shares an amazing blog post, social post or other media with me, I sometimes send them some money. Then I turn around and give it to the Two-Brain community as a gift.
When outside experts have brilliant ideas but no audience, I pay them for their education and then give the idea to the Two-Brain community as a gift. For example, we have amazing new templates for nutrition challenges and online coaching thanks to this acquisition process.
Giving gifts makes you feel great. And it can make your clients feel great, too.
But giving gifts costs money. And the ROI is impossible to measure. Many businesses give their clients gifts for the wrong reasons:
1. They think it will increase retention (there’s no data demonstrating that to be true).
2. They think it will make a deposit in the client’s “emotional bank account” (which doesn’t exist).
3. They think it will encourage a higher perception of value from the client (again, impossible to measure).
Welcome boxes and packages are becoming more popular, and some companies have even tried to provide custom welcome boxes to gyms. It seems like a great idea but sometimes backfires because:
A. The gym is spending money without tracking any kind of outcome. Does it really change anything? If so, what? And by how much?
B. The gym has to buy a ton of inventory to be cost effective, tying up resources that it could invest elsewhere.
C. It’s awkward to give a great gift to a new client without giving anything to your existing clients.
On the other hand, a “welcome package” is a great way to share your policies with new clients, kickstart their journeys and empower them to be successful. There’s a great example of a “welcome package” done right in the next section.
When Should You Give Clients Gifts?
1. When they show up for a No Sweat Intro, give them bottles of water. This triggers an impulse of reciprocation.
2. When they sign up for your gym, give them your welcome package, which includes your client handbook (or gym rules, or whatever). Give them the rules, but make it feel like a present. Add a couple of little surprises. Here’s a great example of a cost-effective welcome package from Push511:
(Can’t see the video? Click here.)
3. When the client hits a first little accomplishment, give the gift of a podium. Read more about that here.
4. When your client hits a new milestone, give the gift of recognition: a small badge, some social media posts, a round of applause from classmates. These are gifts your clients can’t get anywhere else. I like the Level Method for creating these powerful moments.
5. At the big milestones (100 workouts, three years as a member, becoming a coach, etc.), you should celebrate with a gift. Some ideas are below.
The Two Best Gifts I’ve Received From Other Businesses
1. Incite Tax—When I referred my first client to Incite Tax, John Briggs sent me a pretty amazing gift: a jersey from the Sault Greyhounds. The jersey wasn’t cheap. But the real gift was knowing that John’s team had done some research: They had figured out that I liked hockey, that my highest-level hometown team was the Greyhounds, what size I wore, and that I went to watch the Greyhounds play every month or so. That is a thoughtful gift.
2. Forever Fierce—Matt Albrizio once sent me a custom North Channel Lightning banner. I volunteer to coach and sponsor a team of local kids. Every year, we travel to a couple of tournaments, and I usually have to cover some travel costs, food and hotels for families who need it. I love doing it. We buy the kids warmup suits and new uniforms and everything they need to make them feel like pros. Matt made up a huge North Channel banner that the kids signed, and we take it to tournaments to rally the crowd. They love it. The gift was incredibly thoughtful.
Top Lessons From Gifting Pros
Here are the basics of great gift giving, according to John Ruhlin, author of “Giftology”:
1. Buy the best in the category instead of a mediocre gift in a higher category. For example, you’re better off to give the best speed rope in the world ($20) instead of a cheap water bottle (also $20).
2. A gift with your logo on it isn’t really a gift. This is a hard line to walk, because some clients really do want to show off their membership. I’d go with a combination gift: something best in class and something with your brand on it. For example, a great backpack and a bumper sticker.
3. It’s more important to be timely than to give a big gift. Immediate recognition encourages repetition. When clients hit PRs, it’s better to stand them on boxes and take their pictures right away than to give them a “shout out” in an email newsletter later.
4. A gift is not a bribe, and a bribe is not a gift.
Top Lessons From a Bad Guesser (me)
As much as I love giving presents, I’m really bad at guessing what individual people will want to receive. So here’s what I do:
1. Personalization is best, but cash will do. Our local team gets a “shopping spree” at Christmas because it’s fun. And they show me the stuff they’ve bought themselves. It’s never anything I would have chosen, but it’s always something they love (skis and boots were really popular this year).
2. Presentation is everything. If you make a big deal about giving the gift, you’ll increase its perceived value. If you downplay it (“I’ll just leave this on the desk”), you’ll decrease the gift’s value. For a gift to mean something to the recipient, it must mean something to the giver. So when you give a client a “100-workout badge,” it’s critical to stand the person in front of the class and make a huge presentation.
3. The best gifts don’t cost much. Recognition on your PR board, a round of applause, a picture on the internet—your clients probably don’t get these awards anywhere else in their lives. Their bosses aren’t writing their names on the office wall to celebrate their performance. Their family members aren’t clapping because dinner was great. Their spouses aren’t celebrating them on Instagram.
4. Use something you can automate, like Sendoutcards.com. We use it at Catalyst and Two-Brain. The site has my handwriting uploaded as a font, so cards look like they’re handwritten. Put a personal picture of your client on it, type a quick note and hit send. And the cost to send a card is usually around the cost of postage.
Delighting your clients can mean giving them gifts. All of us have money to spend, but none of us has money to waste. Approaching gifts pragmatically means optimizing the gifts you share—and making the most of the Big Give.