In contemporary business culture, gone are the days of sending generic holiday cards once a year and calling it effective corporate gift-giving. Instead, we want to make our clients, partners, and employees feel appreciated with thoughtful, personalized, and unique gifts. As Lisa Morrow of Birdytell describes it, “Our clients really care about the people they work with so it’s a fun, collaborative process, and we enjoy hearing back about the recipient’s reaction.” It’s a win-win situation to be able to express genuine appreciation for those we work with while also gifting items that the recipients can actually enjoy.
Aside from the enjoyment of the process, a well-played gift can set your business apart from the crowd and serve as a positive brand signal. If your business prospect has a pile of generic holiday cards collecting dust on the table, yet you send a box of local Arizona chocolates, it’s not hard to see who will be top of mind when it’s time to make a deal. When gifting to members of your own company, a well-chosen gift goes a long way in boosting employee morale and showing genuine appreciation for the hard work of your team.
The growth of corporate gift-giving has not only added to the fun of it, but the stress as well. What should I send? When’s the right time to reach out? How do I write a personal, yet professional message? Let’s dive into the do’s and don’t’s of corporate gift giving so that your next corporate gift is a winner instead of a dusty greeting card.
Make it Personal
Your employees won’t feel appreciated if they walk into the office to see identical gifts and cards on every desk. While you don’t need to make every gift a work of art, strive to make each gift unique. If unique gifts aren’t doable, spend a few extra minutes personalizing each card.
This same principle applies to clients and business partners. When giving a gift, think about the person receiving it. What do you specifically appreciate about them? Why does your partnership matter so much to you? As much as possible, stray away from anything generic. When you tailor your gifts and messages to the people receiving them, they’ll be more effective and authentic.
Focus on the Recipient
In your work life, there are many moments when it’s appropriate to focus on your brand and marketing efforts. In fact, most moments are those moments, aside from the few occasions when you give gifts. When choosing gifts for clients, partners, or employees, put your brand and business aside. Think about what your recipient would actually enjoy and make that your top priority.
Ironically, putting your brand aside while gift-giving may actually come back to help your brand in the future. While we’re all used to receiving gifts that are obvious marketing ploys, how often do we receive gifts from companies simply because they truly value us as customers, partners, or employees? When you give personalized and thoughtful gifts that put the recipient first, you’re likely to build a memorable and favorable reputation, while also showing the recipient how much you care.
Know the Rules
All companies have different rules regarding corporate gift giving. Some employees can only accept gifts worth less than $25, while others don’t allow gift giving or receiving at all. While you’re likely well-versed in your own company’s policies, be sure to check with the Human Resources department of any company you hope to gift to.
Just Get Started
There are so many things to focus on when running a business that gift giving can fall to the bottom of the to-do list. Be intentional about setting aside time at least twice a year to send out thoughtful gifts. Even a small gift can leave a big impact.
Put Your Brand on Your Gifts
Unless you are gifting consumables like cookies, paper goods, or shirts, think twice about whether your recipient would actually prefer to have your brand stamped on the item you’ve picked out. If the answer is no, leave your brand behind. When you try to turn your gifts into promotional materials, you fail on both accounts, as the gifts appear inauthentic, which then makes the promotional effort less effective. In fact, you may achieve the opposite effect of souring people to your brand. Let your gifts be gifts and leave your promotional materials for a more appropriate time.
Send the Usual Suspects
There’s no doubt that good gift giving is hard. When you’re busy, it can be easy to turn to the same gifts that you yourself have received for more years than you can count. Even though gift-giving may be an item to check off on your to-do list, don’t let your recipient know that. When choosing a gift, make sure that it’s something that shows the thought and care you put into it.
Only Send Gifts on Holidays
While we all expect gifts in December, how often have you expected a gift for Earth Day? If I run an environmental awareness non-profit, Earth Day may be the perfect time to do my biggest gift-giving push. If I work in the wedding industry, I could stand out by sending anniversary gifts to my couples. Think about the days of the year that are significant in your industry. There are 365 potential gift giving opportunities in the year. When can you send gifts so that they don’t arrive on the same day as everyone else’s?
Not only do non-holiday gifts offer a way to stand out from the crowd, they also give you an additional way to infuse your gifts with meaning. While everyone else struggles to craft unique messages for their holiday cards each year, it isn’t too challenging to come up with a personalized message for someone’s anniversary. The more creative you are with the timing of your gift giving, the easier it will be to enhance the meaningful connections you have with your clients, partners, and employees.
While corporate gift giving can seem complicated, it’s an amazing opportunity to show your appreciation for the people you work with. Putting your brand and business aside, choose gifts that your recipients will actually use and enjoy. Remember to lead with a spirit of gratitude and you can’t go wrong.
About the author
Diana Fitts is a freelance writer with interests ranging from fitness to personal development and healthcare. Diana’s personal blog reflects her love for sensory processing and autism and can be found at thesensorytoolbox.com.
*Diana interviewed Lisa Morrow, CEO of Birdytell, and kindly wrote the post.