Many business leaders give gifts to their customers each year as a "thank you for your business" or to their employees as a "thank you for your hard work." Salespeople often give gifts during the sales cycle or during the holiday season as well. These are intended as a thank you with a subtle note to customers of "remember me the next time you want to place an order." Some of these gifts are appreciated but many are often gone after a few days. Items such as candy, cookies, and other types of food baskets are quickly gone. If the purpose of the gift is a quick "thank you", then this is enough.
What if the desire is for the gift to say more than just thanks? Perhaps you want the gift to say remember us when using this. Then practical gifts should be selected that will last for months to come. Often these types of gifts are mugs, calendars, or notebooks with the company name of the gift-giver imprinted on them. These are nice-to-have and they do have a "remember us" aspect, but do they say to the recipient "I want to help" you in the future?
Both customers and employees can appreciate a gift that is practical and helpful. The best helpful gifts will make the individual's job easier or improve how they work. Instead of giving the food or company item, consider giving a book to help them improve their work. These can be books that help them with personal time management, team-building, meeting management, or giving presentations. Consider a newly released book like "RA! RA! A Meeting Wizard's Approach" (ISBN 1-4196-5367-9) available on http://www.amazon.com or give a classic like "The Time Trap" (ISBN 0 -8144-7926-X) by Alec MacKenzie. Then write a personal note inside the book cover along with your name and phone number. If the book is a sales-related gift, be sure to include a business card the recipient may use as a bookmark while reading the book and then save to utilize for the contact information at a later date.
Whether a business leader or salesperson is giving a gift of thanks for the holiday season, everyone will appreciate a book that will help them improve. So when saying thanks with a book of improvement, the message "I want to help" is also received with gratitude.