How to Thank Customers without Breaking the Bank

Customized gourmet food gifts are an affordable and memorable way to show appreciation during the holidays.


BRANDON, FLORIDA– While the dog days of summer are upon us, the holidays are just around the corner. And it’s never too early to think about what business gifts you’re going to give clients and prospects this year.


With all the talk of recession, you may think sending gifts this holiday season is a luxury you can’t afford. But Najla Furgason, president of Creative Expressions of Tampa Bay, Inc. says there are many economical gift choices you can select to thank customers and recognize employees without breaking the bank. “And in a time when other firms are cutting back, you’ll be remembered for doing something special,” said Furgason.


Food gifts have broad appeal so they can easily be tied into marketing campaigns to further a company’s branding message. And another appealing aspect of giving gourmet foods during the holidays is that they can be shared—stretching your dollars even further.


But this doesn’t mean you should wait until after Thanksgiving to run down to the local big box retailer, where you’ll find shelves full of cookies, chocolates and cakes that were made during the summer and then packed with preservatives so they last six months until eaten. “Sending a generic, stale tin of sweets sends the message that you felt obligated to give some kind of gift but didn’t have the time or inclination to put much thought into it,” states Furgason. “As a recipient, how would this make you feel?”


Break out of the retail rut and talk to your promotional products professional about what options are available. According to Furgason, “Sending gourmet food gifts that are not only fresh but also customized in some way with your corporate logo reinforces your branding message while showing appreciation for your customers. It’s a win-win situation for you and your clients.”


To select mouth-watering gourmet treats your customers will savor, Furgason offers the following five tips:

(To see the rest of this article go to: Press Release)


Party Favors and Give-aways Part 2 of 3

In my previous article I discussed how invitations set the mood for getting people to attend your event. In this article I am going to tell you about what I do when I have a party to help make it a more enjoyable event. Give gifts and/or party favors. It doesn’t need to cost and arm and a leg to have something at your event for your attendees to keep when they leave. This is a little memento of the event that they can take home.

Recently, my husband turned 50. I put together a great little party in Daytona Beach at a fabulous little hotel called the Bahama House. Even though most of the attendees were family, I felt the need to present everyone with a goodie bag. We have great packaging on our websites, so I purchased some very nice gold bags and black and gold wraphia to make bows on the outside of the bags. But what was on the inside of each bag is what made everyone say WOW! They were amazed that they were getting “presents” at someone else’s birthday party. I had ordered 24 bottles of private labeled water imprinted with a custom message, my husband’s name and the date. I added the little celebration cakes the can be microwaved and come complete with a candle, balloon and sprinkles, there were light up buttons that said Happy Birthday, we had a chocolate 50 packaged in clear cello and tied with imprinted ribbon that had the same message as the water bottles, and the most fun item in the bag was a light up pilsner glass that was also imprinted with the same message as the water bottles and the chocolate. These were all presented to each guest at check-in. Everyone could tell by the contents of the goodie bag just how great the party was going to be! They were excited!!

Not everyone has to go as crazy with goodie bags as I did, but you only turn 50 once. For my birthday a couple of years ago, I decided to have a casino party. Each of the attendees received chocolate poker chips, and a light up button that looked like an Ace and King of Spades. (Yes, I do like things that light up and blink). Everyone loved wearing their button, and it was fun when it got dark outside. The chocolate was delicious too!

Having a theme for your party, helps not only with finding enticing invitations, but it also helps you with the kinds of giveaways that you will hand out to keep them thinking about your company or your event, long after it is over. Even restaurants and department stores have been known to give away edible things to get you to come in to their place of business and purchase. One time we worked with a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchisee, and they ordered hundreds of chocolate dipped fortune cookies with their own custom fortunes inside. Some of the fortunes had discounts off for food purchases, and others had a free item offer with purchase. – Who would have thought that KFC would use fortune cookies to promote their company? We were also approached a few years back to use this same concept for a women’s clothing store chain, but instead of fortune cookies they used bars of chocolate with the discounts inside.

Ask your promotional consultant if you get stuck for ideas. There are thousands of ideas out there. And most of all have fun!

Controlling Quality of Products on our Websites

Periodically we receive calls from suppliers asking us to put their items on our websites. We usually tell them that they need to be a member of our industry, and then if they are we will order a sample item from them to see how the item is packaged and the quality of the imprint, or if their company has food related items, we taste the items to make sure they are up to our standards before thinking about adding them to our website.

Recently, we were approached by an industry food company that wanted to add their gift baskets and imprinted cookie tins to our websites.  We looked through their catalog and decided on a holiday sleigh filled with brownies, cookies and Ghirardelli chocolate squares as the sample piece. We called to order the sample and we were told that the boss was the only one who could take an order and the person who answered the phone said she wasn’t sure if her boss would be back in later that day or the next day. This should have been our first warning of what was to come.

The next day, the owner of the company called and I answered the phone and gave her our sample order. I also asked her about the strange conversation from the day before, knowing full well that during the peak holiday season we needed a reliable company that could handle a large volume of business. I also asked her about how her items were packaged, as we are used to working with Maple Ridge Farms and their items are packaged so that a truck can roll over them and they still arrive looking perfect! She assured me that they package as well as Maple Ridge, so I gave her our company UPS number and agreed to 2nd day air shipping.

Two days later a huge, oversized box arrived. It was filled with those horrible foam peanuts, and in the middle was a large bundle of bubble wrap and tape. We had to cut through the tape and the bubble wrap to find the sleigh inside. I believe because I had mentioned my concern for how the items were packaged, the company decided to package it in the oversized box and wrap the sleigh many times with bubble wrap to prevent the cookies from breaking. However, this oversized box filled with stale cookies and homemade brownies wrapped in plastic wrap with no FDA required ingredient labels, cost us $121 for the 2nd day air shipping!! You can imagine my relief that we have the rule to view and taste all products of this nature BEFORE we put them on our websites to sell to our customers!

I did speak with the owner of the company today and expressed my dissatisfaction with the presentation and taste of the items. She said they will be crediting me the price of the basket. I am just glad that our research saved us before we sold an unsuspecting customer 20 or 30 of these cookie and brownie baskets and had them shipped 2nd day air all over the country to the customers’ recipients. Can you imagine the shipping bill, not to mention the ill will my customer would have received when the recipient received such a poor quality gift? Not to mention if someone got sick from eating a product without labeling that states that the products were made in a kitchen where peanuts may also be used in other products.

I think for now we will stay with our tried and true factories, where we know we receive good service, on time ship dates and a great tasting product and presentation.