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How we turned a $200 Japanese Knife into a $30,000 Job

When it comes to gift giving in business, often times people get it WRONG!

They immediately opt for the ‘go to’ bottle of wine, or gift basket during busy holiday times like Christmas or Easter and their gifts have no personalisation, use an over saturated idea on a busy holiday, have little thought or effort involved, and in turn, often have little impact…

The gift is received and forgotten about in a day or two.

What you need to understand is that it’s NOT actually the thought that counts, it’s the thoughtful gift that counts!

When giving, the gift is a symbol of the relationship, and it’s all about giving an experience!

This doesn’t mean some crazy expensive item, but you do want to focus on making a lasting impression, the kind that likely won’t come from a $30 bottle of wine…

Maybe you’re just starting out, and all you can do is take the time to send your dream client a handwritten note.

You’d be amazed at how much a little thing like that helps you stand out from the crowd.

Gift giving and those “little touches” commemorate not just certain events, but people, places, and things that are important to us. They become the symbols of the value you place on the relationship.

Cornell University’s study, 'Sweetening the Till: The use of candy to increase restaurant tipping' found that customers who were given a small piece of chocolate along with their cheque tipped more than those who hadn’t been given any.

It also found that tips would vary depending on not only the amount of candy a customer received, but the manner in which it was offered to them. Based on these findings, they concluded that it was most likely the desire to reciprocate a kind gesture that in turn inspired a bigger tip.

It’s a great example of how reciprocity is based on exchange, often to direct mutual benefit, with many positive outcomes.

And forget the term ‘token of appreciation’ – gifts in business are NOT that!

Think about your business: Are the relationships that are most important to your bottom line, whether emotional or financial, merely tokens?

Of course not.

All of the little touches that go into maintaining those relationships MATTER, right down to a simple handwritten note.

That note reinforces the notion of appreciation.

When you stay at a nice hotel, you appreciate when the janitor, front-desk clerk, or cleaning lady smiles and says, “Good morning.” It makes a world of difference with your overall experience when you’re shown that a company believes in the importance of small touches.

None of these things should be considered “tokens.” They’re not “little things”. They’re everything!

The idea of gifting, however, can easily cause some people to stress out.

They plan to send out multiple gifts and begin to worry that someone might not like the gift, or that it won’t bring them any results.

The seeds that fall on fertile soil will more than outweigh the seeds that don’t. You don’t need every gift to create a return for it to be a successful investment.

People also stress over the potential of a gift gone wrong.

Is there a risk involved with doing gifting at a high level? Of course.

But are you going to focus on the small amount of people who might not appreciate your effort? Or on the ninety who love it and are moved enough to do business with you and refer others to you?

The people who will react negatively to your gifting efforts are most likely the same people who would react negatively in any circumstance.

You could send them a brand-new Lamborghini, and the response would be: “It’s the wrong colour!”

We recently worked with an electrical contractor client of ours to develop a strategy that would enhance and further develop their existing relationships with key clients and referral.

What we decided to do was build a lumpy mail campaign focused entirely around the idea of gift giving.

We took the time to dive deep into research, finding everything we possibly could about our target prospects. Mapping it all out in a detailed spreadsheet…

This invested time into research allowed us to find very personal, relevant and unique gifts that suited the INDIVIDUAL, as we believed this would create a better experience and leave a stronger and more long-lasting impression (Rather than a general item like a bottle of wine...)

So, our client purchased the gifts, wrote a very short 3-sentence long handwritten note for each gift and couriered them directly to each target.

These notes were very simple and had INCREDIBLE context to the reason for the gift (to avoid any misconceptions or suspicion of attempted bribery!).

And what happened next was almost shocking…

The influx of positive feedback was astounding, the phone calls, the emails, the appreciation and praise…


One of the gifts was a custom Sakai Jikko "Aogami" Blue-2 Steel Santoku Knife with a Green Plywood handle.

Japanese steel.

And in Japanese culture, giving a knife for a gift has this special meaning, "cut and open bright future".

Jikko the knife manufacturer was established in 1901 in the Japanese city of Sakai located in the Osaka prefecture.

Sakai is a well-known city where a number of Japan’s top quality knives are produced.

And this company had been making knives for the past 100 years, and they compare the quality of their blades to that of samurai.

On the knife’s blade, we had engraved in cursive:

“Handcrafted exclusively for Samuel”

When received, Samuel explained that he has never received anything like this, and that he was beyond appreciative (in fact, he had actually travelled to Japan years ago and fell in love with Japanese steel and said “It’s like you knew”).

The feedback and appreciation was insane.

The next week, a job valued at $30,000+ was sent directly to our client’s company without any opportunity for other contractors to tender!

It was a sure thing!

The relationship had been cemented, and the strategy was a success.

Not only were there great results with the other gifts, but from just ONE client, within the week… a $200 knife had turned into a $30,000 + job.

How is that for return on investment! 15,000% to be exact...

Even more important than the new job, however, was the enhancement of the relationship.

Do not give with an expectation for a return and plan to hold it over their heads forever.

Focus on the point of the gift first, and the money will inevitably follow.

Context to the gift in a handwritten note is everything, nail that, and you will be sure to have success.

Note: Click here to help you choose an appropriate gift for your clients!

If you're an electrician, plumber, painter, carpenter, or any other trade business owner who is looking for assistance with developing your marketing infrastructure, click here to learn more about how our team can help!


Bayley Peachey | Accountant & Trade Business Coach

About the author

Growing up in a family full of tradesman and accountants with a business savvy father, my childhood involved heavy machinery, dirty overalls and years of hand’s on insight into the family business. Being fast paced and dynamic in...


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