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May 01, 2019 Articles

Tips and Tricks on Giving Gifts to Keep Clients Returning and Referring

Promotional products are a rainmaking tool that keeps your name in front of clients for an extended period.

By Michael L. Goldblatt

Promotional products are a rainmaking tool that keeps your name in front of clients for an extended period. Also known as giveaways, premiums, protocol, swag, and tchotchkes, these products show gratitude and promote the use of your firm’s services. Read on for tips about how to use promotional products and see the resources listed in this practice pointer for ideas on where to buy and how to use them. 


The first promotional items in America were campaign buttons used in the presidential election campaign of 1789. Promotional items did not become popular for business use until 100 years later with the introduction of swag bags. During the past 50 years, the use of promotional products has mushroomed with billions of dollars’ worth of promotional items given away every year.


Promotional gifts facilitate thanking clients for a case, reconnecting with them after an extended period without contact, and inviting them to make referrals. Promotional gifts also serve as a visual reminder that keeps your name in front of clients and at the top of their minds.


Promotional gifts typically cost from about $5 to $25 for items like calendars, clocks, pens, mugs, and other desktop accessories. Purchase them from reliable sources to ensure that you receive quality products that are suitable for your clients. The cost of an appropriate gift can vary based on client profiles. For example, a personal injury practitioner might give a low-cost gift like a coffee mug to past clients, while an estate planning lawyer could give a higher cost item like a document organizer.


Prepare a list of clients and then add up the total number of gifts needed. Order extras to keep available for unexpected needs, and order early to ensure timely delivery. Order gifts from a reliable provider that has a reputation for quality products and customer service. Look to the provider’s staff for assistance with selection and personalization of your order.


Personalize your gifts by adding your firm’s name, phone, and email address. Use an easy-to-read font like Arial with a typeface large enough to be readable from a distance. If space is available, include your firm’s web address, social media handle, and a logo. Also include a handwritten notecard with thanks for the relationship and appreciation for future referrals.


Consider sending promotional gifts in December for the holiday season or on special occasions like the anniversary of the firm’s founding or the addition of a new partner, or in recognition of an award. To ensure timely delivery, allow adequate time to order gifts, handwrite gift cards, prepare mailing labels, and arrange shipping. Decide on whether to deliver the gifts in person or by mail. Consider using a mailing service to handle gift wrapping, addressing, and shipping.


Create a budget to cover the cost of buying and distributing low-cost items like pens or calendars to your top clients. Carefully consider order quantity because the cost per item usually reduces based on quantity ordered. In addition to the price for giveaways, remember to budget for the cost of personalizing, handling, and shipping to clients.


The following are online sources for gifts that you can purchase and give to your clients:

For more marketing tactics, see the American Bar Association’s practical books on blogging, directories, referrals, and websites. Additional resources include the many articles, blogs, newsletters, and professional organizations that focus on marketing legal services. The following are particular articles worth reading:


Gift giving is a powerful tool for keeping your firm’s name in front of clients and referral sources. Gifts provide a way to show appreciation and make a connection. Consider hiring a marketing professional to help select promotional items and distribute them to your clients. Consult bar association staff to confirm that there are no ethical issues with giving gifts or personalization (for example, state bar regulators in North Carolina recently gave a green light for promotional products).

Michael L. Goldblatt has authored numerous books and articles about marketing for lawyers.

Copyright © 2019, American Bar Association. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or downloaded or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the American Bar Association, the Section of Litigation, this committee, or the employer(s) of the author(s).