The Newsletter Guy
Have you ever been on the receiving end of a misguided or inappropriate
I know it's not socially acceptable — I'll probably
be chastised by some of you for my lack of manners and appreciation
— but let's be honest; sometimes people give you gifts that
leave you shaking your head.
When I got married five years ago, at the ripe old
age of 48, my wife and I had the following printed on our wedding
“We love gifts. To help you select
one that will make us smile, we are registered at . . .”
(and then we listed four stores). Then we added, “Please,
no appliances or linens. Thank you.”
So, wouldn't you know it, we got two toasters (along
with some great gifts!).
Where am I going with this? A few weeks ago an acquaintance
of mine in Michigan phoned to ask me a question for an article she
was writing. She's in the gift business, and she wanted to know
what thoughts I had about gift giving.
She called because last summer she attended the National
Association of Catering Executives' Educational Conference in Charleston,
S.C., where I was a speaker. During my presentation, “Strategic
Integrity: Why Ethics and Reliability are Great Marketing Strategies,”
I said how important it is to recognize and reward the people who
help you grow your business.
Liz, my Michigan acquaintance, got me thinking about
this whole business of gift giving. When she asked what unusual
gifts I might suggest, I asked her two questions: “Why is it
necessary to give a gift at all? Aren't there other ways we can
recognize the special people in our lives?”
I have made it a practice for the more than 22 years
I have been in business to do something nice for people who have
increased my investment portfolio. My gifts have ranged from a day
at a spa to a weekend at a bed and breakfast, from restaurant gift
certificates to theatre tickets, from books to a boxed set of hard-to-find
CDs recorded by a fairly obscure R&B singer a friend once mentioned
as one of his boyhood favorites.
I've always tried to do a little research on my gift
recipients to try to find out what their interests are. I know I
always appreciate gifts that have something to do with my interests,
and it's been my experience that others appreciate it, too. There
are no toasters in my goody bag.
Two things happened recently to make me re-think how
I gift others.
A few months ago I was hired by a product manager
at a pharmaceutical company to interview 15 cancer survivors for
an annual calendar the company produces. It was an exhilarating
experience for me.
My customer then recommended me to the MarCom project
coordinator for another drug this company manufactures, who hired
me to design a quarterly newsletter.
You can imagine how these two projects, one of them
ongoing, have had a very positive impact on my bottom line.
When I told my calendar customer that I'd like to
get her a gift, she declined and told me to “pay it forward,”
meaning I should do the same for someone else. Not long after, she
called with a request — she was hosting a fundraiser for a
non-profit and asked me if I would take photos at the event. I'm
booked for September 21 and only too happy to be able to help her.
The second thing occurred a few weeks ago. My friend
Gordon, a physician, has a vaccination business. He travels throughout
the country each fall and gives flu shots to employees of companies
from coast to coast. I occasionally help him with his print marketing,
but I don't charge him. It's my little mitzvah, from one friend
Last year I happened to mention to Gordon that I was
flying to Connecticut to speak at my alma mater, Norwalk Community
College, where I had endowed a scholarship in memory of my late
stepfather. This was the first year the scholarship was awarded,
and I was asked to say a few words.
That conversation must have stuck in Gordon's mind,
because when he called to ask if I would help him with another small
marketing project, he mentioned that he was, at that moment, writing
a check to my stepfather's scholarship fund.
What an incredibly thoughtful thing to do! It touched
my heart, and reaffirmed my belief that there are many ways to thank
people, other than buying them a gift.
As with most things, it's all about relationships,
and knowing what's important to the important people in your life.