The dos and don’ts of corporate gift giving

Why give corporate gifts?

Why do companies reward their clients and valuable business partners with gifts?

The answer might seem like a no-brainer but without these vitally important associates, your business is probably doomed.

Giving corporate gifts to your clients does the following:

  • Increases customer retention
  • Prevents customer churn
  • Shows appreciation
  • Acts as a constant brand reminder
  • Promotes brand loyalty

But, it’s not just clients who need to be considered when it comes to business gifts. Gifts can also be presented to employees, potential clients, and material suppliers – and don’t forget charitable organizations and NGOs.

In business, whoever the recipient, the underlying reasons are the same – to cement relations and increase the intimate connection between your business and those who ensure its continuing success.

Before you rush out to buy a bunch of Rolex watches as client gifts, remember this.

Give gifts to the ones who were solidly active in the foundation, growth, and continued success of your business, otherwise you’re throwing money down the drain.

What are the problems with choosing gifts for clients?

Here’s the problem that repeats itself time and time again – what to give?

The gift you choose for a valued client says a lot about the type of relationship you have; where it came from, where it is at present, and where exactly you want that relationship to go.

If you don’t think that one little company umbrella could do all that – think again.

There are so many factors that need to be considered when choosing the absolute correct corporate gift for your clients. Plus, it’s vital to remember that no two clients have taken exactly the same journey through your sales pipeline.

Whether you’re an HR manager or a sales director and the gift choice is yours, there are some important considerations to be made:

  • Is the gift the right fit – suitability for your clients’ interests or expectations?
  • Is cost a major factor in your choice – too expensive versus too cheap?
  • What is the level of your relationship with the client – long-time or new?
  • Does the gift need to be personalized – company or personal logos?
  • Are you really gifting at the right time – birthdays, holidays, or just to say thanks?
  • Are there any additional concerns – sustainability, disability awareness, etc?

Let’s look at these concerns one by one.

Is the gift the right fit?

Is the choice of gift totally suitable for the person you’re buying for? Corporate gift ideas can be quite a nightmare for those responsible for their success.

If you use reliable CRM software, and if your salespeople are updating it as regularly as they should, you’ll have a lot of clues as to what your client’s personal tastes. However, there really is nothing like building up a personal relationship with your clients. Not only does your gifting choices become easier, but so does your sales success.

Many companies are turning to experiential gifts rather than material possessions. Experience gifts are fast evolving as the easy way to gift a unique experience instead of the age-old choices of calendars, paperweights, diaries, or desk accessories.

There are companies like Tinggly, among others, who provide a complete gift box of experiences for the recipient themselves to choose from. Rather than limit your gift to one thing the gift box presents a huge selection of experience gifts.

It might sound obvious, but men and women are different and may have different preferences when it comes to gifting. With the exception of experience gifts, there really is no one size fits all solution.

Is cost a major factor in your choice?

Setting a budget for corporate gift-giving is vitally important. Overspending can be just as bad as giving gifts that are perceived as cheap or poor quality. Overspending might be seen as an attempt to bribe or to unduly influence the client’s decision-making. Underspending might give the recipient the impression that their custom is not appreciated.

Also, giving gifts of different values can also cause problems and be seen as preferential treatment if the client with the lower value gift gets wind of the fact.

What is the level of your relationship with the client – long-time or new?

One golden rule of corporate gift-giving is to never forget the people who have really helped your business to grow. These are the ones who were perhaps fundamental to your success in the early years, or when times were difficult.

There are some companies who like to give onboarding gifts for new clients, however, these gifts are usually the same for all new clients until their value as a customer can be established.

Does the gift need to be personalized – company or personal logos?

Your clients are probably receiving gifts from suppliers on a regular basis, so you need yours to stand out from the crowd. A personalized message, whether with your company logo or the client’s logo, might be a great way to have your gift remembered.

Another really great way for your gift to stand out is through the inclusion of a personalized hand-written note. There really is no better way of personalizing a gift than by including a personal note using the client’s name and giving the impression that their gift is one to one gesture. It can also help to create the impression that you have created a genuine bond with the client.

Are you gifting at the right time – birthdays, holidays, or just to say thanks?

Your client’s are most likely to receive many more corporate gifts during the main holiday times of the year. That’s why it might be good to remember that gifting can be a year round thing, not just for the holiday season.

Sending a gift at a random time can help to strengthen the business relationship as it will probably be seen that the client is forefront in your mind at all times, and not just during the what are regarded as the ‘expected’ gifting times.

Are there any additional concerns – sustainability, disability awareness, etc?

As times change many of your clients are probably becoming more sensitive to gifts which may be thought of as unsustainable or environmentally damaging. In fact, announcing the fact loudly that your gift is sustainable and ecologically sound can give you a sales edge with many newer, forward-thinking companies.

It is also wise to ensure that whatever gift you choose are user-friendly to all levels of ability or disability. This may mean extra research into the intended recipient’s personal abilities, but will be well worth going that extra mile.

Finally, many companies like to gift to charities, either in the guise of physical gifts or financial assistance. Gifting to charities along with social and community enterprises can help build a bond between the gift-giver and the community involved in receiving the gift.

It may not do anything dramatic for immediate sales, but the idea of your company being a supporter of local, national, and international altruism can go a long way towards cementing your place as a supportive and trustworthy company – it’s not easy to buy that in a store.

Gifting only adds value when it’s done 100% right

Giving the perfect gift should be seen as a really great opportunity to connect even deeper with your clients and suppliers. However, gift-giving should be conducted with great thought, research, and attention to detail.

A great gift, one that’s personalized, usable, and with the interests of the receiver at heart, can lead to stronger more successful relationships and can raise the profile of the gifter. A poorly chosen gift can do the exact opposite, and may even be toxic to any future business transactions.

It’s also a good thing to remember, gift-giving should not be reserved only for clients and suppliers, your employees are the people who make things happen and deserve that employee recognition. These are the ones who go the extra mile, who forgo family events and give their personal time in the promotion and success of the entire business. Employee gifts should reflect that level of loyalty.

Your gifts should never be seen as a bribe or a means of influence but as a genuine sign of a respected relationship.

Gift-giving is not an exact science – unfortunately. But with the right amount of thought, and keeping the customer, supplier, or employee firmly in mind it no longer has to be a headache.

Think smart, think twice before you gift. Happy gifting.