Today’s guest is Jamie Kutchman of Marigold and Grey, a company that provides artisan gifts for weddings, events and businesses. In today’s episode, Jamie shares with us how her past work prepared her for her entrepreneurial journey, how a pivot early in her business led to huge growth, and tips for effective client gifting.
02:15 How a background in internet and medical sales prepared Jamie for entrepreneurship.
09:39 The stress of starting a business vs. the stress of being an employee in a business.
11:33 The disastrous event that led to the gifting business idea.
16:43 An assumption didn’t play out, and a pivot that led to major growth.
24:27 The challenges of client gifting and how to get started.
27:57 Thinking through what to gift your clients.
30:45 How much to spend on client gifts
34:58 When to outsource your client gifting
37:11 Tips for DIY client gifting
41:24 Expanding to serve corporate clients and how they found Marigold & Grey
43:45 How Jamie’s new website will more effectively serve different segments of her customers.
Jamie bid farewell to the corporate world to start M&G. This makes sense since gift giving has always been her love language. She lives with her golf-smitten husband, Jeff, in the DC area. After meeting in 2010 and marrying in 2012, thanks to eHarmony, Jamie affectionately refers to Jeff as the best thing she’s ever found online. Jamie is a stepmom of three and more recently, a mom to two rescue pups, Lewis & Clarkie. While she enjoys DC life, she’s a true Virginia girl at heart. Aside from gift design, it’s good bourbon and bbq, Redskins football, prop styling, encouraging other entrepreneurs, and long weekend getaways that make her world go round.
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Jamie: 00:04 And then I went home and I had to tell my husband what I had done.
Davey: 00:04 Haha! That’s what I am wondering, what was his response?
Jamie: 00:11 And his response, well he said, “oh, don’t worry like your resume’s amazing like, look what you’ve done. You know, beef up that resume and get yourself back out there” and I just said to him, I said, “no, I don’t. I actually don’t need a resume for when I’m about to do.”
Davey: 00:27 Welcome to the Brands that Book show where we help creative service based businesses, build their brands and find more clients. I’m your host Davey Jones. Today’s guest is Jamie Kutchman. Jamie left the corporate world to start Marigold and Grey, a company that provides artisan gifts for weddings, events and businesses. In today’s episode, Jamie shares with us how her past work prepared her for her entrepreneurial journey, how a pivot early in her business led to huge growth, and tips for effective client gifting.
Davey: 01:06 So Jamie, welcome to the Brands that Book show. I am so excited to have you here because we get to talk about gifting among other things, like how you built your business. And I remember back when you started your business because Krista did photography of your gifts for you right?
Jamie: 01:25 yes, she did a way back.
Davey: 01:26 Yeah. And it’s been fun to watch you grow. I mean, your business, it’s huge now, so looking back at when it was just getting started and when you were primarily providing artisan gifts for weddings, now you provide artisan gifts for weddings, corporate events, end client gifts and more. So I feel like things have really taken off. I know you had a really big a winter holiday, sales were great. And so I’m so excited to dig in and hear more about that. But first, we always like to go back in time a little bit because your background is not in client guests or gifting, it’s in medical sales, right? Medical and surgical sales. Right? So walk us through how you went from medical and surgery, surgical sales to what you do know. From what I understand surgical sales is a pretty cutthroat environment, is that right?
Jamie: 02:15 That is an understatement. Yeah. So it’s definitely a true statement. But first of all, thank you so much for having me. It’s really great to be here. I’m honored to be asked and congrats on the new venture of the podcast. I think it’s fantastic what you’re doing. And yes, when I was thinking about when you all asked me to be on here, it was kind of a little nostalgic because I go way back with you guys! Krista was literally one of the first creatives in the industry that I interacted with when she photographed some styled images for my initial website. So yeah, thank you so much for having me. And going back to the story, you’re right, it is a little bit of an unconventional story of how I got started. I did internet sales when I first graduated from college and did that for three years and then that whole tech bubble just completely burst and I happened to work for, well, the Internet portion of Worldcom and we all know what happened with them. So had worked there a long time and all of sudden it became the first year that I started making less money and I said this isn’t how it’s supposed to be. So I started interviewing and I went into medical and surgical sales. And I ended up having a very successful career doing that. I was there for almost 11 years. And to be honest with you, I never thought of myself as being someone who would start my own business. I think deep down I always wanted to. I always admired entrepreneurs. I always considered myself to be a creative person. I was doing creative things for my friends on the side, you know, events and baby showers and wedding showers and all of that. I was always the person, the go-to-person for anything creative, even with gifting, but I never imagined building a business out of it.
Jamie: 04:00 And then I got married in 2012 and during that time I had a really hard time finding very unique items to put together these Virginia themed wedding welcome gifts. All of our guests were coming from out of town. We got married in Lexington, Virginia where my family has a farm and so I wanted everyone to have these really special gifts and it took me– I can’t even calculate how many days, hours, weeks– to find what I was going to put in the bags and then I outsourced it to my wedding planner and somehow I don’t know what went wrong, but they ended up at the wrong hotel where we didn’t have guests even staying, so some of the bags went to some guests and then the other half went. God knows where they never recovered them. So people at the wedding were actually talking about the bags and how great they are and some people were saying, “oh my God, we never got one! Why didn’t we get ours? ” And it was a big mix up, but the light bulb went off in my head and I thought, “oh my gosh. If I could have outsourced that service, I absolutely would have done it because it was a nightmare”. And it was something that came down to the final weeks right before the wedding date. And that’s when stress is the highest and that’s when brides should not be doing assembly lines in their living room or any of that sort of thing. They should be relaxing and tying up the loose ends and letting their wedding planners handle everything else. And wedding planners shouldn’t be doing that. There are many other more important things that they should be doing to. So this idea popped into my head in 2012,
Davey: 05:28 So going back even before, so back to medical sales and transitioning from that business. And that’s crazy, that you were in the midst of the.com bubble there. So transitioning that into medical sales, did that come naturally to you? Did selling especially in that environment where, and I imagine there’s an entrepreneurial side to that as well because I imagined it’s very much commissioned based. So you’re out there, I assume tracking down leads and prospects and making sales?
Jamie: 05:55 Yes. So the first job that I had out of college, which was again, Internet sales, was actually all over the phone. Their entire salesforce was over the phone. And so we were selling, um, you know, business grade, very high speed Internet service too, I mean huge, huge corporations and so, I did very well at that, but like I said, there was a reason and an economic reason for me to then leave and I knew that the medical surgical side was what I wanted to do. It is very cutthroat. It is. The company that I’ve worked for, it was completely 100 percent full commission. So if my customers did not pay their invoices, I did not get paid. So at the end of every month I could pull down a report and see invoice number, blah, blah blah. This is what the amount was, this is what my commission was, invoice number, blah blah blah. And on and on and on. So if they didn’t pay, I would also get a report saying outstanding invoices. And there were times that I’d have to go into meetings with accounting departments and say, you’re past due on $450,000. When are you going to pay this back? In my mind I’m thinking this drastically and directly impacts my income, so there was really no security, well there was security because I worked very hard and I worked up a base of business so I kind of would knew what that was going to be, but it was very stressful because you never knew what was going to happen if somebody wanted– let’s say you did a product conversion and you got them to sign a proposal for something and they were ordering it and somebody new came in or a new nursing director or something came in they could just with the flip of the switch, take that away from you and your income could be cut by like 50 percent or more. You never knew. So it was always kind of feeling anxious and I think over 11 years I never realized how much pressure was actually on my shoulders. I just thought I was an employee working for a company, but I literally did everything. I was the primary contact for that account for no matter what. So all the way from maintaining my existing base level of business. Then the following year I had to grow it by huge percentage amounts and then keep the existing business. So it was very much sales oriented, extremely cutthroat, extremely competitive market, but I also had to learn the client experience part of it because I had to maintain that existing base of business that I had. So when I transitioned, I actually very spontaneously quit my job on a conference call. It definitely was not planned and I’m not one that likes change. So if it had not happened that way, this business wouldn’t even be here today. But that is actually how it happened. So when I made the transition it actually felt easier to me than I thought it would. I had this mystical like entrepreneur image in my head, like who is this magical unicorn of sales and I was actually doing. It became a little bit easier in terms of meeting people and, and you know, doing the sales and figuring out, you know, what is our client experience going to look like? All the way to where am I going to source products from?
Davey: 09:09 I was going to ask about that because the transition from medical sales, which sounds really, really stressful, but entrepreneurship is as well. So that’s interesting. that going from medical and surgical sales to entrepreneurship, you almost felt a relief. Why do you think that was? Why do you think you felt less stressed going into a business that really you probably had high hopes for but you didn’t know was going to necessarily take off in the way that it has.
Jamie: 09:39 Yeah, I think the stress is equal. I think it’s very much different. Before I didn’t have a lot of control over my own destiny. Being in sales, you have more of a regular nine to five, set salary employee. You have far more ability to control your income. But at the end of the day I was at the mercy of clients that could on a whim, just pull business from you. Some of them just because maybe they were in a bad mood, like you never know or maybe a new director or you know, c level person came in and they have loyalties elsewhere. You never know. It could happen for any reason so that I always kind of had a pit in my stomach and my day to day when I moved over the stress level as you know, as a business owner is just as high. It’s like, where’s the money gonna come from, how am I going to do this? The pressure feels absolutely immense on your shoulders, but definitely you feel more in control of your own destiny and there is a satisfaction that I get from doing what I do. Being able to combine the creative with the business piece of things. That makes me very happy. So my stress level has not gone down at all. Probably gone way worse, but it feels more worthwhile to me if that makes any sense.
Davey: 10:59 Yeah, I think that makes complete sense and I appreciate that nuanced view that it’s really not any less stressful going from that sales job to entrepreneurship. It’s just like you said, different.
Jamie: 11:10 Haha! Yeah, it’s worse, it’s worse, it’s just more pleasant and I enjoy the people that I work with a lot more than I ever did before.
Davey: 11:17 Yeah. So going back to 2012, that’s when you got married, correct? Yes. And that’s when you had that gift fiasco, people not getting their gifts. When did you decide to quit after that because you were still working this medical sales job right?
Jamie: 11:33 At the time I got married and came back from my honeymoon I had, like I said, it was just this thought that popped into my mind. I’m like, “that needs to be a business”. And then I came home from my honeymoon and go back to my very lucrative, successful career. And again, in my mind I never thought I could quit. Because I thought to myself, you know so many people would kill to have this job. I felt that I was being ungrateful, or that I would be just foolish if I were to give it up. But one day– so I had the same manager and vp for about a decade and then he retired and that all switched and so the new people, their mindset was completely different than the first vp that I was always used to. And so one day just something he said to me on a conference call just rubbed me the wrong way and I was on the call with him my manager and then my vp, it was just the three of us on a call and it just came over me and I was like, “actually, you know, we’re not going to circle back to that spreadsheet. I resign” like, it just came out of my mouth. I resigned and I felt my body just go numb because I couldn’t believe I actually did that. But looking back it’s kind of meant to be, you know. And then I went home and I had to tell my husband what I had done.
Davey: 11:33 Haha! That’s what I am wondering, what was his response?
Jamie: 12:50 And his response, well he said, “oh, don’t worry like your resume’s amazing like, look what you’ve done. You know, beef up that resume and get yourself back out there” and I just said to him, I said, “no, I don’t. I actually don’t need a resume for when I’m about to do.” I think it actually took the first time of us being in Washingtonian, Bride and Groom for him to really believe that I actually had a viable business which was a little ways into the business obviously. But you know, if I had not quit in that manner, in that very just spontaneous way, with my personality, I never would have quit. I would have sat there and thought about it for years thinking I don’t have the skillset, thinking it’s not for me. I’m not cut out for that. I’m only an employee. But if you actually look at the skillset that I had from that job, it was extremely transferrable to a lot of what I’m doing today. Of course, not everything. When you own a business, you have to know a little bit about everything, which is daunting. Okay. But it was, it was more transferrable than I ever realized. And it prepared me as well as anybody could be prepared for what business ownership really, truly is like because it’s not easy.
Davey: 14:13 Oh yeah. Especially I think that job, especially just because it was all commission based. You had to generate your own business, you had to maintain client relationships.
Jamie: 14:23 You could never let up.
Davey: 14:25 Yeah. And probably another reason why the way in which you quit was a blessing because otherwise you probably would’ve never had time even to juggle this new gifting business. Right?
Jamie: 14:25 Yeah, that would be hard.
Davey: 14:39 And, and beyond that, I mean just, especially when the client didn’t pay the invoice, you had to probably be very good at communication with clients and maintaining that relationship and being able to go to them and say, hey, you need to pay this invoice, because otherwise you don’t get paid. So from the outside looking in, it seems like those were very transferrable skills from one career to the next.
Jamie: 15:04 Yeah. And I wish that people that are kind of– there are a lot of people that are doing like a side hustle and they questioned that and I just think that if they sat down and they literally thought about what they’re actually doing every day and the significance of what they’re doing every day and how that would transfer, I think their confidence levels could go up quite a bit. Like I wish mine had.
Davey: 15:27 Yeah, absolutely.
Jamie: 15:28 I wish I had thought about it that way before, you know?
Davey: 15:32 Yeah. And I’ve talked about on previous episodes a little bit about my background and my undergraduate degrees in theology.
Jamie: 15:32 You’re another one, what you do now is nothing like that. It’s incredible.
Davey: 15:42 Exactly. And you go through it, you know, I had a background in education. But I swear to people that there’s things that I’ve picked up along the way that definitely have informed how I do business today. So, I really do believe that God doesn’t waste anything and there’s just so much from one journey to the next that you pick up and you don’t even know how it’s going to benefit you in whatever the next phase is.
Jamie: 16:09 This subject right here is a subject for a whole separate podcast for hours just on this piece alone because I believe so strongly in it, honestly about transferrable skills and how you really have it, but you don’t really know that you have it.
Davey: 16:23 Yeah. And until, you know, maybe one day down the road, looking back. I think we forget how much we know and how much we pick up an even shorter amount of time. But as you transitioned to this new business, I mean, what did that look like? Did you even know really where to start? I mean obviously you had the work ethic and you had all sorts of great experience. But what was step number one?
Jamie: 16:43 I had no clue. Okay. So I was like, “okay, I need to get some products. I need to figure out what I’m going to sell. I need a website”. So my vision of the business, was that I was going to build this cool website that was going to allow people to kind of create their own and build their own gifts. So I hired a web designer and made this really fancy website and people could go on and they would pick their, packaging like their box, bag or basket. Then they would advance to the next step and they would put in their food items, like they’re candy in their sweets. Then the next step they can put in beverages and each screen they’d have like a ton of things to choose from. Then they could even customize their gift tag and their ribbon color, Blah Blah Blah and they would check out and I thought I was just going to have this website and I’d have people like putting the gifts together and I was going to travel the world with my husband and everything was going to be easy. Like I thought my stress level was going to be like nothing, you know, like it used to be so high and I thought it was going to be so low. Okay. Well nothing could have been farther from the truth.
Davey: 17:47 This was a software. I mean this wasn’t just website, this is like an app almost or a software tool where people went on and select the different stuff in it. So it was this real build your own tool. And so I imagine that was pretty expensive to build?
Jamie: 18:02 It was really expensive and I spent a lot of my savings account from my previous job on this website, on this tool that I thought was going to be so amazing, and it was a cool thing. It made a splash. It was certainly different. It led to me having conversations with people that I still work with today, but I drastically underestimated my market and the way that I realized that is that once I started networking and having conversations with people– they don’t want to have anything to do with their gifting. So our clientele, they want us to do everything from start to finish. So we ended up doing a lot of custom gift design, like in bulk and we were doing that and never got people that couldn’t meet our minimums. So I said, okay, well we need something that they can order quickly that you know, I’d want to keep them under our brand. So I added a predesigned shop where I would design the gifts and put them in there. They can order them one at a time. And so then we had three ways to work with us. We had custom gift design, then we had the predesigned shop one at a time already made and then we had this tool, right? And with the tool we would get orders every now and then, but it wasn’t doing what I thought it was going to do and it certainly wasn’t going to pay overhead and it certainly wasn’t going to get me where I needed to go. And I kept it there for the longest time and we had like Pinterest linking to there and we had everything else and one day it just hit me and I thought– and we talked about it as a team –and the thought was this is, it’s confusing for people. They don’t know what we are, like, what are we? And it literally broke my heart to have to do this. But I said, okay, let’s take that piece of it down. Let’s, let’s deactivate the build your own tool. And I was seeing dollar signs and, and months worth of work down the drain. And I like get the goosebumps thinking about it. It’s so traumatic. But we deactivated it and instantly our predesigned volume skyrocketed. So because of that clear message, clients that knew where they belonged–either in custom or predesigned based on what minimum order they had. They knew what we were, but the consistent message was that either in the predesign shop that we still have now and custom, those clients aren’t doing any of the design work. They’re not deciding what goes into gifts. We are. We’re helping them, they have preferences, but we’re helping them. They want the convenience and the quality and they don’t want to go on a tool and you know, think about it and there are some other businesses that are doing it that way and that’s fantastic. But for us that was not working. We–I say we but it was “I” at the time. I take responsibility for drastically underestimating our client and really undershooting the market that I was trying to sell to.
Davey: 20:54 Yeah. But I think intuitively we, we tend to think, Oh, if we give people more choices, they’re going to be, they’re going to be happier with that, you know? But at the end of the day, when we eliminate choices, it’s crazy what happens. You eliminate this choice, which is clients building their own gifts, and now predesigned gifts take off. But Kudos to you for, for recognizing like, “Hey, this isn’t working out”, especially after dumping money into it because anytime you dump, I think time and money and effort into something, it’s really hard to nix-it,
Jamie: 21:25 The only reason it stayed up as long as it did was because of the money and the time. And I was just too emotionally attached to it. I mean, I knew probably deep down it should’ve gone ages go. I mean, there it sits. I should probably sell it to somebody and let them try to do something with it. Like with the technology because it still exists. I just have it deactivated. So anyway.
Davey: 21:47 Yeah. But you successfully pivoted to or realized, “hey, people don’t want to design their own guests gifts” and it kinda makes sense. Right? And this is a good segue into talking about client gifts, which I want to get to in a second. Because we talk to people all the time, especially in coaching who don’t really know where to start when it comes to what gifts to get their clients. And they don’t know where to start they don’t know what to include. They don’t know what’s like too on the nose, like Mug with your logo on it, or if they want to go with something fancier, but they just don’t know where to start. So I’d love to chat with you about that. But I really really admire how you decided, “hey, this isn’t what people want. I’m going to eliminate this.” All of a sudden your messaging is that much clear and just through elimination and now things start to move in the right direction.
Jamie: 22:35 Yes. And it’s funny, as I see other businesses pop up with this technology, you know, I’m tempted to try it again, you know, it just kills me. Like gives me a pit in my stomach and it kills me. And I think, “well, we could, we could do that too”, but I know better! I know better and I have to remain disciplined to that. So clarity of message is really important. Listening, understanding who your ideal client is and not just ideal because they’re nice and they like you and you like that. That’s not what it means. They’re ideal because they really want exactly what you’re offering. Like understanding that and remaining true to it is so important. Everyone talks about it, but oh my God, I swear to God. It is the thing that matters.
Davey: 23:17 Yeah, I mean I would say even for us when we transitioned to doing Davey and Krista, so Davey and Krista as it is today, our initial website, I mean it had like every service you could imagine when it comes to like web design and development, right? I mean from copywriting to SEO to digital marketing to design. And it took some time, but finally it probably took six, eight months to realize, okay, this is just overwhelming for people and people don’t really know what it is that we do and what our core offer is. And I tell people all the time, once we started eliminating things from our site, we really zeroed in on our message and exactly what we do and who we do it for, helping creative service based businesses. All of a sudden things started looking up for us. So definitely something to be said for eliminating things and just figuring out what matters most. But let’s talk about client gifts. I’m telling ya, one of the biggest things when we do a coaching session which is bound to come up: “what should I give my clients? When should I give it to my clients?” Why do you think that this is so challenging for people?
Jamie: 24:27 I think it’s challenging. So just to do an intro, we do client appreciation gifting for small businesses and large businesses all the time. And we hear the same things from people all the time. Such as “I’m just, I’m exhausted with the process. I am at home goods and I’m like throwing stuff in a basket and I don’t know what to do. And then I get it looking really pretty and then I’m at home and then I’m back in my office and I get sidetracked in three months go by and Oh my God, I never sent it and I don’t want to go to the post office and I don’t want to wait in line or I don’t know when to give it to them.” So we hear it all. But it’s all very similar. And the first thing that I say to people when they call into us and they’re asking for help is you have to have a system. You have to work it into your workflow. And so you have to decide at what point in your overall process from start to finish, are you going to give to your client a gift? Are you going to give one to them as soon as they signed the agreement with you or are you going to get them at the very end? And that just depends on who you are. Like a photographer or a wedding planner or a bridal salon owner or a web designer. I mean we’ve worked with a realtor, we worked with every single type and it just depends on your own circumstances. But a lot of people do give the gifts right when the project is booked, they want to kick off the project on a great note. So if they want to show appreciation for the booking and that would be the first thing. So you need to know when you’re going to give it and it needs to be systematic.
Jamie: 26:02 So you need what you’re giving them. And you need to be giving the same thing every time. Now, if you want to vary it a little bit, you can do a handwritten note. You’re allowed to do that. But for the most part, you should be giving the same thing every time. Know where it’s coming from, have it in stock, and have a system of when you bill them. How many you have and how you keep your own inventory. If you don’t have a ton of space, that’s fine. You’re not a gifting business, but the key is to have almost like a program, like a gifting program and have it fit into your workflow and have it be the same thing every time and then you know exactly what you’re spending on each client every time so you can work it into your pricing. There’s nothing wrong with increasing your pricing to account for a client gift. I tell this to people all the time. They’re a little bit aghast when I say that, but that is part of the client experience that you’re offering. So I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t be able to include that in, in your overall pricing.
Davey: 26:58 Do you have a recommended amount of gifts? I know that’s probably a hard question to answer because you work with so many different types of businesses, but do you have like a recommended timing for gifts or amount of guest? I know for weddings, since we work with a couple of generally over the period of nine months to a year because when they book will generally do a booking gift and then maybe something after and their engagement session and then maybe something after the wedding. So how do you go about even deciding, okay, when’s the best time to give a gift and how many gifts and I guess another one– I’m just piling the questions on! This is bad form as far as questions go, um, but you know, eventually that leads to wondering how much should I spend? And we see people on both ends of the spectrum where it’s like the next to nothing. It’s really just a handwritten note or something like that to spending probably far more than they should because they feel like maybe they have to because otherwise it’s not a good enough gift.
Jamie: 27:57 Right. No, I understand. Um, in terms of when to get, I think you really need to try to get in the head of the recipient. So let’s, I mean, let’s talk weddings. Okay, so let’s say a wedding planner for example, so the couple signs on with the wedding planner and there’s a lot of excitement surrounding that and we’ve had probably a ton of choices and they’ve finally settled upon this one wedding planner and they signed the agreement and you know, who knows, maybe they’re like having a little buyer’s remorse. Thinking “I’ve spent too much. Did we make the right choice?” You know, how everyone tends to do that. Imagine then receiving something in the mail from them or like within the week or two weeks, you’re like, “Uh, I knew it. I made the right choice. That’s why I booked her or him”, you know?
Jamie: 28:45 And then another way of thinking is, you know, with wedding planning there are a lot of major decisions that go on. Kind of in the upfront, like the major things are decided. Of course they booked the photographer and then they’re going to book the venue and then they’re going to book the catering. But once some of those bigger ticket items and contracts are signed, there tends to be somewhat of a little bit of a lull. And so some people I’ve heard they really enjoy gifting in that lull period where the bride is sort of like, not, not as excited, or the groom not as excited as they were in the beginning. And so some of them like to send a small gift just to kind of get them jazzed up again about it. And then of course at the end, the wedding, the wedding weekend, they’re going to give something now. It doesn’t have to be equally as expensive or significant for every single time, but just being thoughtful about when. So typically our clients are doing, you know, a curated box that’s branded to them for the onboarding gift. And then they’re doing something, maybe a little bit smaller in the middle. Even if it’s just a handwritten note, like, again, I’m so excited for your wedding, blah, blah blah. And then the wedding weekend, they might give a bottle of champagne or something that’s appropriate for that type of occasion. So they are spreading it out. Sure. But most of the clients that we work with are either giving it the curated type of box, thats branded in the beginning or at the very end of the project.
Davey: 30:08 Sure. And that kind of makes sense. I think especially just for the primacy and recency effect, you know, when you first meet somebody and then leaving them, as you deliver maybe the final product, leaving a lasting impression. But what would you recommend people spend? What’s an appropriate amount to spend? Do you have like a percentage maybe that you work off of? How much that client is worth. And I know that’s probably a crude way to put it, but you know, let’s say the invoices for a thousand dollars or so, how do you calculate what to spend on a gift?
Jamie: 30:45 See, this is very tricky. This is very tricky because we don’t always know what our clients are actually charging. You have got to tread lightly with that. But in general we are working with high end wedding planners and high end like fine art wedding photographers and so in general they’re spending between 75 and $150 per gift. And this is for the significant gift, like the onboarding, the onboarding gifts and people do actually spend more, but that is usually the average that we’re seeing spent and they definitely work it into their pricing and the way that they justify it is that this person just spent thousands of dollars with me– I need to reciprocate in this way and it’s not just about the money. It’s about having something that’s thoughtful and very well curated and that are appropriate for the occasion, appropriate for the recipients, that they’re actually going to hopefully use and enjoy that are well thought out. So when we advise our clients, the first thing is aesthetic. We want it to look like that brand: color Palette, logo, all those types of things. If patterns are involved in the brand new try to work those into the gift however we can. And then also just vibe of the brand, like are you just very fine art and light and airy, like that’s how the gift should feel or are you really edgy and bright and bold and you know, that the gifts should reflect that feeling and you can actually do that with items and with paper and with ribbon and with, you know, you can actually take a brand and reflect it in the form of a gift box, I believe.
Davey: 32:30 Yeah. And I liked what you said about the amount being spent too. One thing that we advise people to do is just say a three to five percent of whatever the amount is. And I’m terrible at math so I won’t do it in my head. But generally for a lot of people who are charging a couple thousand dollars, it really ends up being in that 75 to $150 range. Um, so you know, I imagine that you’ve talked with clients who may be throwing ideas at you and you were probably like, Nah, that’s not what you want to do. Are there any do’s and don’ts when it comes to gifting? Have you ever seen just some disastrous stuff and then on the other hand, some stuff that you’ve put together that you’re like, wow, this is awesome and more people should take this approach.
Jamie: 33:17 Yeah. To be honest with you, the people that come to us, they’ve come to us after they’ve already had the disaster.
Davey: 33:24 I guess that makes sense.
Jamie: 33:25 And they come to us, ready and with an open mind and maybe they have some preferences. Like “I really loved that and I want to share it with my clients”. That’s one approach you can take. It doesn’t have to be just about your brand, it could be about something that is your favorite item that you want to then share with your client and make it clear with them that this is why you love this item or something, And allow your client to kind of see into your world too because it’s a personal relationship back and forth. And depending on the length of the project, you could be working with that person for a year, two years, or even an ongoing relationship.
Jamie: 34:01 So you know, there are a lot of different strategies with that. But when people come to us, they’re at the point where they want us to design it for them. They want us to take their brand, take their vibe, take you know, whatever few preferences they have and show them and go to them and say, this is the concept that I think you should go with. And then we have a process where we go back and forth and tweak it much like any custom process design process and tweak it until they look at it and they say, this feels like me. Like this feels like my brand.
Davey: 34:30 At what point would you recommend that somebody reached out to you? So for instance, I assume maybe when you’re just getting started and you only have maybe five clients for the first year, let’s say that maybe it’s probably not within the budget to reach out to your company and say, “Hey, can we put together these client gifts?” And maybe you disagree with that, feel free to say no, they should start right away. But when would you recommend like really kind of outsourcing that to a company like yours?
Jamie: 34:58 Yeah. So I would say obviously I’m a big believer in asking your bookkeeper or your accountant, like at what point will you can afford it if you’re not comfortable raising your prices. So you have to know that if you account for that, then you know, great. But if not, if you’re going to absorb that cost and keep your prices the same, then you just need to make sure that your finances, obviously you want to look out for the financial health of your business. But I think for us for client gifting, our minimums are 12, so if you’re doing it in the course of a year, that just happens to be what ours are and if you’re doing more than that, certainly. But I also think it has to do with what’s the best use of your time. How much time are you spending on putting those five together and what could you be doing instead with that time. For us, if you don’t meet our minimums again, that’s why I created the ready to ship shops. So they pre designed so they can just go in and buy one at a time and we hand write a personal note. So it goes to their client and they’re getting a client gift. It’s not branded in their brand per se, but you can work up to that and get to the point where it is custom branded for you,
Davey: 36:08 but you knew you at least know that it’s curated. And again, as far as time goes, it’s not just a matter of picking a gift. I mean it’s a sourcing the gift, putting it all together, bringing it to the post office, whatever else goes into it in terms of like writing a note. Yeah. So you could save a, probably a decent amount of time each week, especially as you get more clients. I think 12 is a great a number, if you’re, if you have to do more than 12 of those, then it’s probably best to outsource that.
Jamie: 36:37 And we keep it low for that reason. Our minimums for events to be honest with you are much larger. But for client gifting we try to keep it as low as possible to try to accommodate small businesses. They need their time back. They are doing so many things. They need their time back. So we try to keep it low, I’ll try to keep it at that number as long as I can. I think that’s a good number.
Davey: 36:59 So do you have any tips for somebody who’s doing it themself? You know, maybe not quite ready to go through Mary gold but needs to put the other client gift.
Jamie: 37:11 Yeah. So I would just say consider your brand like much like I mentioned before, just consider your aesthetic. We always ask our clients and part of the questionnaire process is give me three words that describe your brand and then you want to create the gift vibe around that. Okay. You also want to consider the usefulness of the items for the people that are receiving them. If you are a wedding planner and your couple– you have like a male female couple and you’re giving the gift only to the bride. Well you’re missing out on half of that equation. There’s a big movement towards Unisex client gifting in the wedding industry because the groom’s, they should not be ignored. There’s also a movement towards, shouldn’t even be a movement, but like same sex shifting, we absolutely accommodate all the time and are happy to do so. So just making sure that the items are useful and appropriate. And then also incorporating your logo, like don’t be afraid to incorporate your logo, your branding patterns into the gift because it shows off who you are. Especially, if you’re proud of your branding or you just rebranded and you’ve gotten a new brand, it’s like the perfect time to re-up your client gifts.
Davey: 38:26 Awesome. And um, so primarily when you started your business, and correct me if I’m wrong here, you did wedding gifts. That was primarily what you did?
Jamie: 38:26 Yep.
Davey: 38:38 And so since then, like I mentioned the beginning of the interview, you’ve moved into a corporate events, and client gifting. So how did you transition primarily from gifts for weddings to working with corporate clients? Did you change up your marketing. Did they find you?
Jamie: 38:54 Yeah, absolutely. So we began doing wedding welcome gifts obviously, and the people that we were working with for the wedding welcome gifts, a lot of them were in the wedding industry, so they started asking about client gifting. So that was just a natural progression. But corporate events is a whole different thing. And so even though the function of the gift is different, the reason for it is different, the concept behind it is really the same. So everybody wants to give a well curated, thoughtful, aesthetically pleasing gift as much as they can. And so I think what happened was we have this portfolio of work and even though somebody is in the corporate world, the people that are making decisions about gifting are marketing executives who are essentially creatives, and then corporate planners who are essentially– they have to be creative and so they know the creative places to go and find examples of work. i.e. certain social media platforms and so corporate people have been finding us loving what we’ve done for wedding and we are able to tweak our formula a little bit from wedding to make it very appropriate for corporate. So, when I’m talking with my corporate clients, I’m saying to them, “look, yes. Our wedding portfolio. Yeah, it’s feminine. Most of it looks very girly”. I said, “but we’re going to use the same formula for you. We’re gonna make it completely on brand. We’re going to make it appropriate and useful for your recipient and we’re going to also make it professional so we’re gonna find a way to incorporate your logo and your branding without making it each cheesy corporate swag, but in a very tasteful, balanced way.” And they love that. They want that. They haven’t ever seen that before. They want corporate gifts that make a splash that are unique, that are artisan but are still very professional and reflect their brand. So we have access to their brand style guides. We follow them, we rely on them and we give them something that for me is like right in the middle between super corporate and super wedding. Right. You’re doing something right in the middle.
Davey: 41:11 Yeah. Because when I imagine a corporate gifts, I think like pens, you know, the cheap pens with the logos on them?
Jamie: 41:17 We see that in our email marketing all the time. It’s like have you seen your last branded pen? Nobody wants it. It ends up in a drawer in the swag graveyard or whatever.
Davey: 41:24 Yeah. And the worst part about it is that they hardly ever work. Something goes wrong with them. So as far as social media goes or these platforms that you find corporate clients on, is it mostly like what is it? Is it linkedin or is it pinterest?
Jamie: 41:40 It’s actually not linkedin that I know of. Nobody’s ever come in that we have found via linkedin. It’s also interesting because where people say that they found you, they probably first found you somewhere else, but the last place that they actually saw your work is what they tell you. It’s a little hard to gauge, but the normal ones, instagram, pinterest, and then Google search is very high for us.
Davey: 42:03 Yeah. And I would, I would think that Google search would be high. Instagram is interesting to me because, in the past I thought it was very much consumer facing. It was good for the wedding industry, let’s say because normal people are on and getting married. We’re on it, right. I’m only recently or relatively recently, I’d say in the last year or two, have I heard that a lot of b2b type stuff or business to business can be generated from instagram. So it’s interesting that you had mentioned instagram, and then pinterest, I also think like Google I would assume would be a good generator of traffic, of even corporate traffic for you.
Jamie: 42:46 Yes. Because again, the people that are doing the gifting, that’s where they’re going to go to look for ideas and then they’re like, oh wow, I can actually outsource this. Are you kidding me? And they get so excited, but they’re going to those places to at least get ideas because they think they’re going to be doing it themselves. And then once they realize they don’t have to, they get really very excited because again, it’s not what they should be doing with their time. Chances are it’s a huge hassle for them every time. So, both of those sources have been very good to us
Davey: 43:15 And I assume that, um, you know, because you’re providing gifts for them that are so different than maybe what’s been provided for them in the past that there’s probably a pretty good word of mouth that comes from that as well.
Jamie: 43:27 Yes. And we, we also worked very hard to get repeat clients because they’re doing repeat events, so that always helps as well.
Davey: 43:35 Is there anything else that you do to attract corporate clients where that you’re, you’re in the process of doing. I have a little bit of insight into it because Krista, as we speak, working on your website,
Jamie: 43:45 Haha! Yeah you have a little insight into what my strategy is! But yeah, so, it’s really funny, I’ve had so many conversations with corporate clients and you know, they see our website as it currently is and they love it. Okay. There are female, they love it. But in a corporate situation it’s always usually by committee. So they will have to go to the team and get everybody to sign off on this. So then when they pass around a website to the committee, which often let’s just face it, is a lot of men, they’ll come back to me and they’ll say, everybody is worried. They think it looks a little girly. And I say to them, you know, don’t worry, we are designing to the aesthetic of the event so yours will not look like this. And so because we now have such a large portfolio of corporate work and client work and wedding work, I’m able to go behind the scenes and scramble and get them examples of projects and I work very hard to do that. But the new website will cater more to all groups equally. So each group will have its own landing page to go to where they can find imagery and case studies of their own, have their own gifts for their own reasons. So I think that’ll be a lot easier. I wouldn’t have to be making these excuses why the website looks so girly to a bunch of men and like begging them to trust me that I got you. I understand. And I can make masculine gifts just as easily as I can make a frilly girly gift. Trust me.
Davey: 45:24 Well I am really excited about the launch of your new website and I know that you all have been working really, really hard on that. I know Krista is appreciative of your clear feedback. As you all have been working through that kinda stuff. So for any listeners out there working on a website redesign, I think one thing that you’ve done really well, Jamie, is just communicating clearly and quickly, so when stuff is sent over to you, it’s not like three weeks, four weeks go by and then it’s like, oh, can we change this or that,.
Jamie: 46:00 Haha well I’d like to just plug Krista here and I’ll say she’s a machine.
Davey: 46:00 Hahaha!
Jamie: 46:02 Anyone listening, Krista is a machine. So I will give her feedback and then it’s my whole team. We joke about it because by the time I roll into the office in the morning, I already have an updated version from her then with more work for me to review and do. So we just laugh. Or like Krista is my new boss, but she’s a machine. She’s fantastic. And what I love working with her, especially the second time around that I have a business. When you build a website and you don’t have a business and you just have this idea, God help you. It’s so hard. It’s so hard to make decisions. You’re all over the place. But when you have a business and you know what those goals are and you know that your existing website is not doing you any favors at all, you have to be very clear about what those business goals are and you have to let the website help you achieve those. Like, of course, I want the website to be the most beautiful, gorgeous, custom thing in the whole wide world. If it’s not going to convert, it doesn’t do any good. So Krista is a great balance for me because I’m like, I want it to look this way. And she’s like, it’s not going to function that way. Like I want it to look this way. So she’s getting me exactly where I need to go to take the business to the next level, hands down. She is a machine
Davey: 47:14 Haha! Yes she is super efficient. And I’ll pass it on. And like I said, we’re really excited for this new website to launch. So as we wrap up here, if people want to follow along, maybe people want to connect with you about some client gifts or want to see, what your business is all about, where can they follow along and where can they learn more about you?
Jamie: 47:40 So I would say I’m the best place would be instagram obviously, so we’re @Marigoldandgrey. So that’s our handle and we’re very active on the feed as well as stories. So we do a lot of like behind the scenes and we’ll show gift builds in the process in entirety. And I often talk about like why we’ve chosen certain items that we have, so that’s a good place to not only see the body of work `but also get an idea of our philosophy and how we work together as a team and kind of see the environment that we work in. And then obviously our current website is marigold grey.com. I’m not a big fan of our current website, obviously, or I wouldn’t be redesigning it, but the new one should be coming hopefully very soon, so be on the lookout for that.
Davey: 48:24 Yeah, maybe even by the time this episode launches. So thank you so much for sharing your time and expertise with us. And gifting really should be part of the client experience because I think it really does enhance one’s brand. So I think that this is going to be a really enlightening conversation. So thank you for joining us.
Jamie: 48:47 Thank you for having me it was a blast.
Davey: 48:53 Thanks for tuning into the Brands that Book show. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider subscribing and leaving a review in iTunes. For show notes and other resources head on over to DaveyandKrista.com.
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