Bah Humbug! Christmas, Outrage And Client Gift Dilemmas

Bah Humbug! Christmas, Outrage And Client Gift Dilemmas

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Sexism And Tea

Well, they’re not related but it sounded interesting, didn’t it? Actually, they’re both follow-ups to last week’s podcasts.

First, we have Chris Curran of Fractal Recording on for a few minutes because as today’s sponsor, he showed up live to announce the relaunch of the Social Media Unscrambled podcast. If you haven’t listened to it, Chris Curran and David Deutsch talk social media with a sense of humor. It’s one of our favorites and according to Chris, they’re back, “This time with a point.” (Humor, remember?)

While he was here, Chris blamed Ralph for a speeding ticket that he got. Apparently Chris was trying to call Ralph when he blasted by a cop doing 80 miles per hour. Which reminded me of last week’s episode with Mojca Mars about sexism, and the fact that I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket, even though I’ve been pulled over for speeding more than once. I can’t help but wonder if part of the reason I “got away with it” is because I was a cute girl. Men don’t seem to be as lucky!

And speaking of last week’s episodes, on our After Hours edition we spent some time talking about tea and the different types we planned to try.

Well, we tried a lot over the weekend. Some were from Teavana, and in spite of their delicious-sounding names, the two flavors we tried were 100% horribly undrinkable. So undrinkable that I packed up the box not an hour after I received the delivery and drove to the post office to return it.

We also tried Simpson & Vail tea with much more success. They have some amazing flavors, from Carrot Cake to Charles Dickens (yes, that’s a tea flavor) and those were delicious. So far they’ve all been winners, and I think I developed an almost instant addiction to English Toffee.

Hey, Fred… Christmas is coming. Just saying.

The Sniply Buster

Before we get to our main topic, we read an email from a listener who asked us about the Sniply Buster plugin that we referenced some time ago. If you’re not familiar with Sniply, this podcast will bring you up to speed. I wouldn’t say we were outraged… ok, we were kind of outraged… but we had a very civil conversation with the founder of the tool, during which we completely disagreed on pretty much everything.

Anyway, the Sniply Buster is part of the Social Warfare plugin so you can get the best social sharing plugin on the market AND a simple way to block people from using Sniply on your site. Go get it.

Bah Humbug!

Speaking of Christmas, that turns out to be the main topic of our conversation today. Well, Christmas and the holiday season in general.

And it all starts with outrage. The outrage begins with a Medium article I read about someone who was shopping and saw a lipstick color called “Underage Red.” She then tweeted a photo and said, rather benignly, “How is this a lipstick color?”

She subsequently forgot completely about it. It’s the kind of thing any of us would do when we see something curious. What she didn’t expect was a series of big media outlets to pick up the tweet and start writing headlines about the “outrage” over this lipstick shade.

This resulted in a whole lot of Twitter flaming and the author’s admonition to us to beware of the utterly manufactured outrage that seems to be so prevalent on the internet.

The thing is, nobody was outraged. Nobody cared. Then some media publications that wanted clicks printed some sensationalist headlines and that resulted in the outrage that never existed.

The author cautions us to check the source of the next “outrage” to see if it’s a true violation of all things holy or just someone’s sad reach for another page click.

Which leads us to Christmas…

Starbucks Is In Trouble Again. Or Not.

You may have heard the “outrage” over how Starbucks is removing Christmas from its stores. Because they changed their cups from “red cup with reindeer” to “red cup.”

The endless Christmas products sold, the endless Christmas music played… that doesn’t really matter because OMG THEY CHANGED THE CUP!

Now, you might read that and think (as we did)… (and as everyone else that we know and have talked to did)… Who are these crazy people who think a red cup means Starbucks is anti-Christmas? And you might be inclined, as I was, to have an emotional reaction. “That’s crazy!” And then go on to list all the reasons why.

But then you might, as we did, come to the conclusion that nobody is actually outraged.

Oh sure, a guy is outraged. A guy is making the rounds on video and TV and talk shows and radio talking about how darn outrageous the whole thing is, how he is going to start a movement to “trick Starbucks into writing Merry Christmas on their cups.” (Seriously, that’s what he said. You can listen for the clip. He is also planning on carrying his gun into Starbucks from now on because reasons.)

Is he outraged? For real? Who knows. But it sure does get him a lot of attention to be! So it’s in his best interest to be as outraged as possible and to appeal to whatever fringe of perpetually outraged people want to go along for the ride.

But we have another opinion. We don’t care.

Ralph says it perfectly. He says that we’ve hit a tipping point where there has been so much of this nonsense that we’re collectively starting to feel outrage fatigue. And when this stuff happens we may have that initial emotional reaction but after about four seconds our rational brains kick in and we think, “This is not a thing. Moving on.”

A Lesson To Small Businesses

This is not just a conversation about being outraged over outrage. There is something to be learned here and it’s this: be careful of the outrage bandwagons you decide to jump on. If you get on social media and start spewing out this kind of thing or taking sides on one side of the outrage fence or another, you could be losing credibility, turning people off and undermining your own marketing messages.

Especially as small businesses, where we as individuals are the faces of our businesses, everything we say is a reflection of our business. So if you want to be outraged, go ahead. Just be careful that you understand the source, that it’s an actual issue that you feel strongly about and that you begin a reasonable discourse rather than simply yelling louder than the other guy.

Your Seriously Social Intermission

In part two of his miniseries about roadblocks to creativity, Ian Anderson Gray is back to talk about what’s holding us back. We’re often held back by a lot of issues – depression, anxiety, fear, doubt. But Ian says you can’t let these feelings fester. You need friends, family and support.

And you need to stop being busy. So during this seriously social moment, Ian wants you to stop being so social… online… and start doing it offline. Add time to your calendar for going for a walk. Spend time with your friends or family. Plan time with yourself to contemplate what you’re creating.

Put simply: unplug.

Now, Pass The Presents

With the holiday season upon us, it’s that time of year when we start thinking about what we should be doing for our clients. Should we send a card? Gift? Expensive gift? Token gift? To whom?

Over the years we’ve run the gamut from completely ignoring the holidays to sending out really nice gifts.

So what’s the “right” thing to do?

It’s a tough question, because as much as we might like to send great gifts to every one of our clients, budget is a reality. And when you consider that your cute $20 gift is going to cost $40 once you add in shipping and handling, gifts aren’t so practical anymore.

What’s a small business to do!

Well, we have a couple of opinions and things to think about. First, what is the purpose of sending gifts to your clients? For us, it’s about expressing our appreciation and gratitude. So sending those generic boxed cards with our company named printed in gold foil doesn’t do the trick. Sure, we’ve done that plenty of times. But then we’re just another boxed card in someone’s very big box of boxed cards, some of which are probably exactly the same except for the company name on the inside.

If our goal is to let people know we appreciate them it doesn’t take a lot to do that. You can do that with zero budget. Pick up the phone and call each of your clients to say happy holidays, to let them know you’re thinking of them and that you appreciate the business you’ve done together. That simple personal conversation will cost zero dollars, a few minutes of your time and be much more meaningful than the boxed card and maybe even the expensive gift.

How about emailing your clients? How about offering to meet your client for a cup of coffee? Not to sell… just to be friendly. How about… wait for it… a handwritten note?

There’s a lost art to writing notes but they are incredibly powerful because of their scarcity. If you can take time out of your day to personally hand write a note to someone, that means a lot.

We get a handwritten note of thanks from Tammie Rampley every time we order one of her Tramplee Designs bags. We have a collection of bags… and notes… that make those shipments much more memorable and fun.

Ultimately our opinion boils down to this: do something. It doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money. It just has to be meaningful to the recipient.

We also suggest that you don’t have to do the same thing for everyone. Send an email to some people, write a note to others, take some out for coffee. Send a nice gift to your best clients. And who are your best clients? They don’t necessarily have to be your highest paying clients. Someone who is loyal, who you do repeated business with, who you have a great relationship with may be a lot more valuable to you than someone who pays you a ton of money.

Confetti And Streamers

One of my favorite gifts that we ever sent out was a chocolate bar inside a card stuffed with confetti and streamers. We bought our favorite chocolate – a super dark boutique blend – and put it into the card in a large-ish envelope so we could fill it with the confetti. When our clients opened it they were greeting with a big poof of celebration.

We got a whole lot of love back from that gift. People were really excited about it and called and emailed to tell us how much fun it had been to open. Now, that gift actually cost us a decent amount of money because we bought specialty chocolate, but you can take it down a notch with something simpler, or even just go with the card-and-confetti. It’s a small thing but it’s a lot more fun than a card without confetti! And it will make you stand out just a little bit from everyone else’s boxed card.

Your Action Item

From Ralph: when you’re writing content, don’t quote other people and relate it to your topic. For example, don’t quote Herman Melville and then talk about how it reminds you of SEO. Because it doesn’t! Don’t rely on that crutch to make your point. Give your opinion, say what you need to say but skip the hocus pocus and get to it.

From Carol Lynn: make a list of all the clients who you’d like to show your appreciation for. Depending on how many people make the list, you can begin to assess how to show it. Gifts? Phone calls? Emails? All of the above?

Bonus Item: Email us and let us know the best and worst gifts you’ve ever sent to clients… and the best and worst gifts you’ve ever received from clients.

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Carol Lynn Rivera

Carol Lynn Rivera

I'm a business owner, content creator, podcaster and marketer. In 1999 I founded Rahvalor Interactive, a web and creative services production studio, with my husband and business partner Ralph. In 2011 we created Web.Search.Social, a consulting and marketing service line for small businesses. We also cohost the Web.Search.Social Podcast where we challenge the status quo of marketing and the Carbon Based Business Units podcast where we talk about the human side of being an entrepreneur. On any given day I wear the hat of project manager, consultant, social media manager and content marketer. My true passion is writing and in my spare time I'm busy planning my early retirement to Barcelona as a famous and wealthy novelist.
Carol Lynn Rivera
Carol Lynn Rivera
  • Many thanks for including my post in your show notes! The death claims need to DIE.

    I can see it now …

    Upcoming webinars, blog posts, videos, and podcasts for the busy entrepreneur on “How to Outsource Your Outrage”. The sales copy will read, “Outrage sells! Hire me to start a movement for you! Just pick a topic, company, cause, or person you want to ‘stick it to’ and I’ll create a firestorm of outrage — guaranteed to blow up your website traffic and get you one million new Twitter followers!” Somebody shoot me.

    Outrage in social media is losing its luster and appeal. Holds no weight and has no meaning anymore. I ignore more of it now than ever. (The stupid insignificant stuff, that is.) I’m embarrassed for the people who get on these ridiculous bandwagons and I feel sorry they have nothing better to do with their lives.

    Using quotes …

    I’m not opposed to quoting someone in your content AS LONG AS it’s accurate and it’s directly related to your topic. I’m totally opposed to people using quotes for link bait. Pfft! However, if you’re crafting a blog post tutorial about how to create image quotes, for example, that would be one exception. Quote whomever you want and if they take notice and choose to share your post, good for you. (Of course I’m referring to quoting people who are alive and well. Most likely dead poets/actors/authors won’t be sharing your content. LOL!!)

    Christmas gifts for clients …

    The handwritten note idea would probably be my first choice. Such a rarity these days. Kudos to Tammie Rampley for including handwritten thank-you notes with her customers’ orders!

    Gifting anything edible would be a little trickier and riskier. You’d have to know your clients’ likes and dislikes and any history of food allergies, etc. One Christmas the insurance agent I worked for sent fruitcakes to all his clients. Yuck. The following year he sent them personalized desk calendars and the year after that, Starbucks gift cards. I warned him not all his clients may be coffee drinkers but, of course, he ignored me. 😉

    • I LOVE your movement idea. I bet you could sell a lot of outrage. You may be onto something there 🙂

      It is exhausting though. So tired of hearing what someone is pissed off about today. Tired of everyone else jumping on the bandwagon and being outraged about the outrage. This is why I stick to the people I like and avoid the whole mess.

      I guess we should start thinking about our client gifts, huh? It’s true, it’s tricky. Everyone seems to have allergies and sensitivities and a million things. I mean, you can’t accommodate them all or you’d be sending generic $5 gift cards to everyone and that’s boring. At least writing notes won’t send anyone into anaphylactic shock!

      • No, those handwritten notes won’t send anyone into anaphylactic shock. They’ll just send them into grateful land with an ear-to-ear grin. It’s funny nowadays how people get so excited about someone putting pen to paper, as if it’s unheard of or never existed before in the history of mankind. 😉

  • I send handwritten notes all the time, and whenever I see something I think someone would like, I buy it and tuck it away. Sometimes it gets sent on a special occasion. Sometimes it gets sent for no reason at all. Little random acts of kindness/thoughtfulness make me happy to give, and hopefully, make the recipient happy to receive. And in case you think you’ve got it bad in terms of postage: it costs $1 for one single stamp and 90 cents if bought in a booklet here in Canada. So yes…mailing costs can sometimes exceed the price of the gift!