It has been about two years since we made the decision to kick paid advertising to the curb, and direct the majority of our advertising budget back into our clients, and it was the best decision we’ve ever made for our business. This won’t work for every small business, but it works for us because we realized that we’re much more interested in attracting the right clients for us instead of a large volume of clients who are not a good fit for us. Paid advertising does cast a much wider net, but investing in the clients who love us for us has proven to be a much wiser business investment. Working with the right people who truly value what we have to offer brings us so much joy, so we also look at it as an investment in our own long term happiness and overall well being. That may not seem like it has anything to do with “business,” but for us, loving what we do is a priority, and working with the right people is a huge part of that.
We experimented with all different kinds of client gifts, but this year we finally settled on a gift that makes us feel really good to give and that our clients really seem to LOVE, so we’re definitely sticking with it! We wanted to give our couples something that would be useful, practical, delicious, and a little bit fun, while promoting locally made products that we actually love and use. By incorporating products that WE love, we’re sharing a little bit more about who we are and what we value, which reinforces our brand identity. Also, we’re all about fostering long term relationships with our couples, and who doesn’t love getting presents in the mail?! :) We have had several people contact us after seeing someone post a photo of their gift box on social media, and they always turn out to be people who are the perfect fit for our style and overall philosophy. If you’re attracting clients who are a great match for you, then there’s a good chance that their friends will be a great match for you, too!
The first thing you see when you open the box is the sticker on the inside lid that says “you’re the best!” On top of the crinkle paper, is a card with our logo that says “Thank you so much for choosing us! We’re so excited to work with you!” The back of the card (not pictured) says “these are a few of our favorite things,” and gives a list of all the different companies and their Instagram handles. We used the branding elements we received from our designer, Braizen, to create both the card and the sticker.
It was really tough to choose the contents for the gift box, because we love so very many local artists and makers, but once we realized that we could change up the contents of the box every year, it became much easier to choose. ;)
From left to right (clockwise), these are the gifts we incorporated into our 2016 gift box and a little bit about why we chose each one:
1. Linwood Candle Co – I first discovered Linwood Candle Co at the Jack Craft Fair in 2015, and I fell in love with the high quality of their product as well as the simplistic packaging and branding. They are made with soy wax, essential oils, and cotton wicks, so I feel good about burning them. The Sweet Grapefruit scent is my favorite, so that’s what we chose for the boxes. Linwood Candle Co is a 10 out of 10 in my book, and definitely worth checking out!!
2. East Aurora Cookie – We first met Jennifer of East Aurora at a corporate party we were shooting a couple of years ago. She was seated at a table and people were coming up to her and showing her pictures on their phones of everything and anything, and right then and there, she would paint the photo…ON A COOKIE…and hand it over. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in life!!! I, of course, pulled up a photo of my dog and she did an amazing job painting her portrait, so I instantly became a life long fan and cheerleader for her talents. We ordered cookies from her for our daughter’s first birthday party, and they were so incredible, you guys. SO INCREDIBLE. (You can see them on her Instagram feed.) I knew that we wanted her to be a part of the gift box because I wanted to sing her praises from the mountaintops. When we came up with the idea to have her paint a portrait of our couples’ faces on a cookie, we knew we had struck gold. We got such great feedback on the face cookies, and will keep them as a staple in our gift box for as long as we can!
3. Rust Belt Love – I’ve always been a fan of Alyson’s designs (especially her pen and ink art), so when we decided to include stationary in the gift box, she was the first person I thought of. I love sending and receiving cards in the mail. I like to have them on hand to write a quick note or a thank you and send it off to a friend!
4. Elle Pea Tee – I’m all about things that are natural and made with the purest ingredients possible, and this line of products delivers everything I’m looking for. Her lip scrub in Cherry Berry is the best thing out there for dry lips!
5. Zandra – I can’t remember where I first came across this young lady and her incredible skin care products, but I’m so glad I did. Her lip balms are my favorite! They make great holiday gifts for my family and friends, and I always have one tucked into my purse and one in my diaper bag. Their large size makes them easy to find! They were an obvious choice for our gift box.
6. Butter Block – Everything Colleen makes is pure magic, and I love her business philosophy. Above all, I am obsessed with her pop tarts, but I was afraid they would break in the mail, so we opted for homemade oreos instead, which are equally delicious and nostalgic. We got lots of great feedback on these!! If you have never had a Butter Block pop tart, you need to try them…you just NEED to.
7. Public – This coffee company has quickly become a beloved Buffalo staple. We are big fans of the Kold Brew!! And, now that The Grange Community Kitchen is a five minute walk from my house, I can have a Kold Brew anytime I want one!
And, that’s a wrap for the 2016 Ayres Photography Client Gift Boxes!! We’re already working on the 2017 gift box, which will feature some of our new favorite artists and makers. We’re pretty excited about it!! So, for us, the decision to use our advertising budget to invest in our clients and share all of these wonderful, locally made products with them was definitely the right one. We do still use Facebook sponsored posts sometimes as a form of getting our work out into the world, so that’s technically paid advertising, but we don’t advertise on any other sites. This method may not work for everyone, but our goal is to fill our calendar with couples who value the same things that we do (family, friends, togetherness, sentimentality, kindness, generosity, and love), and gift giving plays a role in helping us achieve that goal. :)