How to make client gifting more thoughtful, unique and less work for you

After hours of collaboration, team meetings, and countless email threads, you’ve just wrapped a huge project with a really important client. Everything went off without a hitch and the end result was better than you could have imagined. To top it all off, the client just gave you a glowing review and hinted at future business with your company.

These types of clients are the reason you work as hard as you do. They help your business thrive. And while your work ethic, genuine character, and likeability are probably a large reason they chose you in the first place, to help improve your chances of their return, it’s important you go above and beyond to show your appreciation.

But how can you say “thank you” and represent your brand without spending hours upon hours curating a gift? How can you choose a gift that delights the customer yet subtly reminds them of your company?

 Branded coasters for  The Hewing Hotel

Branded coasters for The Hewing Hotel

To help you in your efforts, we are sharing our expertise in client gifting so that you can impress, delight and strengthen your client relationships.

 

Ditch the boring, company-branded swag

Long gone are the days of boring branded swag. Think about it - when’s the last time you actually used that branded mouse pad (do people still use mouse pads?), USB stick, or 1 inch sticky pad cut out in your company's oddly shaped logo (wait, did anyone try to actually write on that)? Probably never. These old, outdated strategies simply don’t work because they lack personalization and fail to represent your brand in an authentic way.

We do recommend branding some of your gifted items as long as it’s done in a tasteful way. Stay in front of your audience by subtly displaying your logo or adding a small insert about your company to your gift. Check out a few examples below. 

 

 Screenprinted lids for a collaboration between Minny & Paul x Squarespace

Screenprinted lids for a collaboration between Minny & Paul x Squarespace

 Customized stickers for  KNOCK , a local creative agency

Customized stickers for KNOCK, a local creative agency

You already know your clients - how can a specific gift delight or inspire sharing?

Client gifting doesn’t have to be boring or challenging. It really comes down to understanding your clients and how a particular gift can delight, go above and beyond their expectations, and establish them as a lifelong customer.

Take time to reflect back on your time with the client. Were there specific moments that stood out to you? Project milestones are memorable but it’s the personal connections throughout the process that solidify relationships and drive repeat customers.

Maybe the project manager had a baby during your time together or the primary account coordinator celebrated a birthday or you vaguely remember the company VP expressing their love for a local chocolate company - when we take time to remember those experiences and use them when choosing a gift, the gifting process will be more meaningful for both you and the client.

Not only will a gift inspired by emotional connections and company values delight your customers but it could also inspire them to share your company services with professional connections, potentially expanding your network.

 

Free advertising: How one small gift can go viral

We’ve all seen it before. A company sends out a unique gift or even just a handwritten note, and the client was so moved, they share it across all their social channels. Before you know it, their post has gone viral, giving that particular brand immense exposure and essentially free advertising.

 

If you’re going to invest, invest wisely

If you’re going to invest company dollars in gifting, opt for a gift that leaves a lasting impression on your key clients. A gift that’s thoughtful, unique, and drives customer loyalty. Instead of getting overwhelmed in the curation process, reflect on the memorable moments you had with your clients. Utilize what you already know about their company, their needs, and their brand. Paired with their personalities and you’ve got a gift that will hopefully ensure loyalty for years to come.

Here at Minny & Paul, we’ve helped numerous businesses delight and impress key clients with our thoughtful, curated gifting. Need a memorable way to say thank you? Get in touch today.

 

LESSONS FROM MEG LEWIS, MINNEAPOLIS DESIGNER & HAPPINESS EXPERT

Last Friday, March 24th, I attended a talk put on by CreativeMornings/Minneapolis at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD).

CreativeMornings is a place where people of all artistic backgrounds can come together to celebrate creativity, design, and collaboration. Each meeting begins with the CM manifesto, a declaration of our drive to always create work that matters, support one another in all endeavors, and promote an environment that leaves us feeling refreshed and inspired.

Each month, a chapter of CreativeMornings will choose a theme to center its efforts around. This month’s theme is courage, chosen by CreativeMorning’s Oakland chapter. This past Friday, Minneapolis-based designer, Meg Lewis, joined us to talk about her courageous work.

Formally known for her success as founder of Ghostly Ferns, a group of commercial artists, illustrators and product designers creating content for companies like Slack and Neighborly; co-founder of Fool Proof, a collaborative workspace in Minneapolis, and owner of her personal brand, Darn Good, this energetic, courageous creative is so much more than just an artist.

March-MegLewis-8.jpg

Image Credit: Peter Heidorn

Packed into a small auditorium on the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) campus, some 400 people listened and laughed as Lewis inspired and awed us with her stories and lessons on how accepting yourself, professionally and personally, can not only help you create your best work but also make the world a happier, healthier place.

A Version of a Girl That Didn’t Exist

Growing up, Meg was different. She never fit the mold of girly girl or athletic tomboy or even nerdy mathlete, falling somewhere awkwardly in between the unforgiving tween stereotypes. She was quirky, artistic, and just didn't feel like there was a place for her. Her role models were people like Mr. Bean, exaggerated versions of humans who made Meg further deviate from anything “standard issue”. Other kids made fun of her and picked on her. She just didn’t fit in.

March-MegLewis-28.jpg

Image Credit: Peter Heidorn

 

“What’s the deal with humans? Why do we all want to be the same?”

 

Meg simply wanted to be herself. A version of a girl she felt didn’t really exist. This left Meg feeling confused, sad, and lonely.

A Curated Version of Herself

Fast forward a decade and Meg was beginning her career as a young designer. But years of criticism had taken a toll on her confidence and rather than capitalizing on her unique style, Meg stepped into the field with caution. She didn’t believe people wanted to see her and her work for what it actually was.

To compensate, she began to curate a very specific, filtered version of herself IRL and online. A version that she thought people wanted to see. Someone that was always introspective, cute, serious, and thoughtful. The qualities that social media said made you a good person. While Meg was and is all of those things, she’s also so much more.

Instead of creating content for her dream companies, Meg was hired by brands that lacked passion in their own work. This resulted in boring projects, bad relationships, and multiple terminated contracts.

After so many repeated blows, Meg knew she needed a change. But what?

The Epiphany of Dance - Where She Found Her Confidence

 

During her phase of sad work, Meg registered for a Zumba class at her local gym. After about a dozen of failed attempts, she finally mustered up the courage to actually go.

And what she discovered was absolutely pivotal to her career and happiness. While dance may have been a segway into this understanding, what Meg found was a whole new world where the goal wasn’t to try and be perfect or fit the standards of what you were supposed to look like, but to be exactly what you wanted to be in that moment. To simply have fun and enjoy.

This thought was incredibly freeing to Meg. As she watched others in class, she slowly let go of the preconceived notion that people were going to judge her and just danced. She started to see her body and thoughts in new light and felt a small confidence begin to grow.

Embracing My Uniqueness

“I stopped hiding what made me different. Those were my superpowers!”

 

From there on out, Meg made a radical shift in her life - professionally and personally. She fiercely embraced her quirky qualities and only invested in people, companies, and projects that fit her strengths and made her happy. And what happened?

 

Image Credit: Darn Good

By just being herself, opportunities with her dream clients started flooding in. She couldn't believe it! People resonated with her quirkiness, valued her genuinity, and respected her work. They wanted her for exactly who she was.

 

Finding Her Purpose - Making the World a Happier Place

 

To help the audience understand how Meg found her purpose and used that as a guide when making choices in her career, she shared a few exploratory questions and encouraged us to ponder them ourselves.

 

1. What’s my life's purpose?

  • One, short sentence

  • A driving force that guides my decisions

  • Tailored based on my strengthens and unique characteristics

 

Meg’s Answer: To make the world a happier place.

Owning multiple businesses can be challenging. You’re asked a lot of questions and constantly making decisions. It’s easy to deviate from your roots and forget the mission behind your work. That’s why determining your life’s purpose is so critical. For Meg, making the world a happier place is always the guiding force. If her work doesn’t align that core value, she shouldn’t be doing it. It makes it easy to say yes and to say no.

 

2. What are my unique qualities?

  • Qualities that come naturally

  • Things that you may be hiding

  • Things that others have pointed out to you

 

Meg’s Answer: I love change.

Meg never wanted to be a specific kind of designer. She hated having to choose just one. If she was just a designer she could pivot on any project, being a UX designer for one project,, a graphic designer for the next, or a product designer. She thrives on change and realized how much strength she had in that unique quality.

 

3. What do you value?

  • Things that are important to you

  • Something that is really important to you and maybe not as important to someone else

 

Meg’s Answer: Communities and shared spaces where people feel like they can be themselves.

Although she loves some good ol’ “me time”, Meg is a classic extrovert. She loves to just hangout with people and is always the last one to leave the party. When she moved to Minneapolis from NYC, she had a hard time finding a community of friends. So, she made her own.  In this time, she found that a close knit community was extremely valuable to her and that creating spaces where friends could connect was part of her purpose.

Be Exactly Who You Are and Good Work Will Come

Meg taught us a lot in that crowded room early Friday morning. Wise tidbits of knowledge and advice on how self acceptance and defining your life’s purpose can truly change the type of clients you attract and the kind of work you produce . If I could sum it all up in one sentence, I think Meg so eloquently said it as such,

“The more I’m me, the more I succeed!”

Minny & Paul is a proud partner of CreativeMornings/Minneapolis. It is an honor to support local artists and creatives in the Twin Cities community! 

 

How to make Super Bowl LII the best year yet

Game day is quickly approaching here in The Bold North! As our town ramps up its preparations for Super Bowl LII hosted at US Bank Stadium, we have put together some helpful tips on all the things to do, ways to celebrate, and how to make this year as memorable as possible.

Before we dive in….

You already know we love all things Minnesotan but to show just how passionate we are for this great state on one of biggest events of the year, we curated a two super special boxes called Super Box  and Super Minny. These boxes are full of Minnesota essentials - a mix of cozy must haves like Great Lakes Co hats, beer tokens to local breweries, chapstick and more!

Order yours here

Events, Concerts, Happenings

There are so many exciting events happening in the next few weeks! We’ve hand picked a few of our favorites plus some suggestions from Meet Minneapolis who has a fantastic review of everything happening pre-super bowl. To see their entire list click here.

St. Paul Winter Carnival - January 25 - February 10th

-For over a hundred years, St. Paul has hosted the historic Winter Carnival. From the stunning ice palace sourced from Green Lake in Spicer, to the Fire and Ice Art Show, a snow sculpting competition, to the kickoff parade, there’s an event for everyone! Plan a date with your SO or grab some friends and boogie on over to Rice Park for a night of fun.

Super Bowl Live by Verizon - January 26th

-Head down to Nicollet Mall, the official epicenter of Super Bowl activities. Catch an impressive lineup of free concerts including musical superstar Idina Menzel, local country artist Chris Hawkey, and others at the Super Bowl Live starting Friday, January 26th. Daily activities also include free sleigh rides, stunts by snowmobilers, NFL meet and greet, and more!

The Loppet - January 27th

-An activity for the whole family, the Loppet is an annual cross country ski race that takes place on Lake Calhoun and around Uptown. Watch participants fly across the finish line or join in snowy the activities yourself!

US Pond Hockey Tournament - January 25th - January 28th

-Join fellow hockey enthusiasts for the historic US Pond Hockey Tournament on Lake Nokomis January 25th through the 28th, an event founded in 2005. With over 25 rinks, there’s a place for every team! To register to play, read more here.  

First Thursday - Leather Works MN + ACES - February 1st

-Get your game face on and join us at Studio 247 for a table top football tournament with Leather Works MN and ACES!  ACES is a local nonprofit working to reduce the achievement gap for low income students. Read more about all the great work they’re doing for the Twin Cities here. While you’re there, check out our new Super Bowl boxes. 10% of all proceeds will be donated to ACES.

The Armory - February 1 - 4th

-Check out one of Minneapolis’ coolest new concert venues, The Armory, to see megastarts like P!nk, Imagine Dragons, Jennifer Lopez and others rock the stage Super Bowl weekend.

What are your plans this Super Bowl season? We’d love to hear!

Local Holiday Recipes

One of the best things about the holidays are all of the delicious treats. From cookies to cocktails, there are indulgences everywhere! To help you prepare for your neighborhood cookie exchange or delight out of town guests, we’ve compiled our favorite holiday recipes from local bakeries, food bloggers, distilleries and more.


Cafe Latte Chocolate Turtle Cake

 

  Credit: Midwest Living

Credit: Midwest Living

The infamous Cafe Latte Chocolate Turtle Cake. Decadent chocolate, drizzled caramel and toasted pecans. Is your mouth watering yet? If you haven’t been, Cafe Latte is a classic cafeteria-style restaurant, serving up soups, sandwiches, and divine desserts. It’s located on bustling Grand Ave in St. Paul. Looking to impress out of town guests or satisfy your chocolate cravings? Make. this. cake. Directions below.

Get the original recipe here: http://www.cafelatte.com/wp-content/uploads/Turtle-Cake-recipe.pdf

M&P Tip: Don’t skimp out on the cocoa. Spend the extra $ for the good stuff. Oh and the cup of hot coffee? Verrrrrrry important for a moist cake.

Ingredients:

  • Cake:
    • 2 cups flour
    • 1 ¾ cups sugar
    • ½ cup cocoa (good quality)
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 Tbl. baking soda
    • 1 egg
    • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 cup buttermilk1 cup hot coffee

Directions: Combine egg, oil and buttermilk. Combine dry ingredients. Add wet to dry until mixed. Slowly pour in hot coffee. Scrape bowl. Mix briefly. Pour batter into three greased & papered 9" cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Test with toothpick.

  • Frosting
    • 5 Tbl. Butter
    • ½ cup milk
    • 1 1/3 cup sugar
    • 2 2/3 cups semi sweet chocolate chips (good quality)
    • 3/4 cup caramel1 ½ cups toasted pecans

Directions: Mix sugar and milk in saucepan, add butter and bring to a boil. Remove
from heat and add chocolate chips to pan. Mix with a wire whip until
smooth. If frosting is too thick or grainy add one or two teaspoons of hot
Coffee.


For each cake layer: Petal 1/3 of the frosting, then sprinkle ½ cup of pecans and drizzle ¼ cup
of caramel on the first layer


Caramel & Apple Pumpkin Pie

 

  Credit: Zoe Bakes

Credit: Zoe Bakes

Caramel, apple and pumpkin? Sign me up! Local baker and author, Zoë François, delivers a buttery, flaky masterpiece with this festive recipe. François studied at the Culinary Institute of Art and has written 4 cookbooks on how to master breadmaking. To keep up with her baking adventures, be sure to check out her instagram, @zoebakes.

Get the original recipe here: http://zoebakes.com/2017/11/21/caramel-apple-pumpkin-pie/

Pie dough – you’ll only need enough for one 10-inch pie, so you can freeze the rest.

Ingredients:

  • Caramelized apple layer:
    • 5 apples, peeled, cored and cubed in 1/2-inch pieces
    • 3 tablespoons butter
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • Pinch salt
    • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
    • 2 to 4 tablespoons water
  • Pumpkin layer:
    • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree or equal amount roasted
    • 3/4 cup brown sugar
    • pinch of salt
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1/4 teaspoon all-spice
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla – DIY vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Parbake the crust by lining it with foil and pie weights. Bake for about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the bottom crust is set, but not coloring at all.

In a skillet, heat the apples, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt until the apples are tender. In a small bowl combine the cornstarch and water. If your apples have a lot of liquid use just 2 tablespoon of water. If they are drier, add the remaining 2 tablespoons water. Stir over medium heat until the apple juices thicken and the cornstarch no longer looks cloudy. Allow the apples to cool while you prepare the pumpkin filling.

 Whisk together the pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, all-spice, eggs, sour cream and vanilla.

Turn down the oven to 325°F. Put the apples in the parbaked pie shell. Pour in the pumpkin over the apples. If there are any large bubbles, pop them with a fork.

Bake the pie for about 1 hour, but check after 45 minutes to gauge how quickly it is setting up. You want to take it out when the pumpkin is set and just puffing ever so slightly. You don’t want it to be liquid in the middle, but you also don’t want the pie to soufflé or it will crack. Set it to cool on a rack. Once the pie is room temperature place it in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Enjoy!


Coconut Macaroons

For those of you looking for a healthier alternative, try these coconut macaroons from local food and health blogger, Fit Foodie Finds. They’re naturally sweet from the coconut and can quickly cure a sweet tooth craving. These delicious macaroons are perfect for your next family gathering or to share with girlfriends at a holiday party.

Find the original recipe here: (https://fitfoodiefinds.com/2016/12/coconut-macaroons/)

  Credit: Fit Foodie Finds

Credit: Fit Foodie Finds

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. First, preheat oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. In a large bowl, mix together coconut, maple syrup, egg whites, coconut oil, and vanilla.

  3. Use a 1/4 cup to scoop the coconut mixture into your palm and compress together. Place on baking sheet and shape into a dome with the palm of your hand. Repeat.

  4. Bake at 350ºF for about 20 minutes or until the macaroons begin to turn golden brown on the sides.

  5. Let cool for about 30 minutes.

  6. Coat the bottom of each macaroon with chocolate by melting chocolate chips in the microwave and stirring until smooth.

  7. Dip the bottom of each macaroon into the melted chocolate (gently), set on a piece of parchment paper. Repeat.

  8. When chocolate has cooled and hardened, enjoy!


Pomegranate-Rosemary Gin Fizz

  Credit: Norseman Distillery

Credit: Norseman Distillery

A nod to the classic holiday colors of green and red, this pomegranate-rosemary cocktail is light and refreshing. It pairs nicely with an assortment of appetizers and as a plus, looks beautiful in photos. We used some of our favorite local gin from Norseman Distillery in Northeast Minneapolis to whip up this delightful drink. Check out our original recipe below. P.S. How fun is this holiday label?!

Ingredients:

  • Crushed ice
  • 2 ounces of Norseman Gin
  • Dash of lemon
  • ½ tsp superfine sugar
  • Splash of La Croix (any flavor)
  • Splash of pomegranate juice
  • 1 tbps Pomegranate seeds
  • Rosemary sprig

Directions: Add everything except pomegranate seeds and rosemary to shaker. Shake until well combined. Pour into a cocktail glass and garnish with pomegranate seeds and rosemary sprig. Enjoy!