Not sure what to get that prospect or client this holiday season? Take a huge pause, as this is one aspect of business that simply cannot be done in haste. A gift can say more about your brand than anything else, and it’s an opportunity to make (or break) a relationship.
Why is it such a big deal? It’s because corporate gifts are entirely rooted in the concept of “making a gesture,” and they show your clients that you value and appreciate them. Beyond the typical promotional materials businesses send out during the year, a holiday gift is a very soft sale, sometimes asking for absolutely nothing in return.
Keep in mind that even though the gift is a completely voluntary action, a tremendous amount of thought and strategy should still be put into it – everything from the quality of the item, presentation, and timing should be carefully considered.
A gift can quickly backfire, eliminating the entire point of the gesture and causing more damage than good. So, how do you avoid these fatal flaws this Christmas? Luckily, we’ve touched on the 3 most important ones you need to be aware of, increasing your chances of forging strong relationships with your clients.
- The Forgotten Gift
You wouldn’t design a commercial that wasn’t memorable, or distribute promotional products or materials that were about as exciting as watching paint dry – why would you put a gift in a client’s hands that didn’t create a lasting impression?
Anything you give your clients and prospects is representative of your brand, and because of the nature of gifting, the impact will likely be more profound than any other sales or marketing content you engage them with.
Where emotions are involved, associations are stronger. The recipient will feel a sense of gratitude for your gift, followed by an intense examination and dissecting of that gift. If it’s something so familiar and uninspired, like many of the other corporate gift ideas they’ve received, they’re likely to forget about it just as quickly as your brand.
Every interaction with your target market should be reinforcing your value proposition and fortifying your image in their minds. This can be done easily by being unique – spending a ton of money isn’t always necessary, but showing them you actually thought about the gift, is.
What are some safe bets when it comes to corporate gifts? Usable and practical items are always welcome, and branded products must be high-grade. Avoid putting your logo or company name on anything of mediocre quality, especially when it’s for a holiday. Here are some fantastic gift ideas for this Christmas, fitting well into your budget, while resonating with your client base.
The key is to add something of value to their life, hoping that they will “stumble upon” it again at a future date. This strategy keeps your brand fresh in their minds, and can often lead to referrals. Give them something that is useful and has the potential to spark conversations, and you’ll never have to worry about your gift being forgotten.
- The Obligatory Gift
Failing to properly gauge (and convey) the value of a contract or partnership to a client can be a disaster. This often happens (unintentionally) when a well-meaning business owner sends a gift that’s just a little too, let’s say… cheap.
The devastation from this simple oversight is three-fold. First, it says to clients that your gift is part of an expected business process, obligatory, and somewhat of an expense. Creating the appearance that your organisation views holiday gifts as overhead can render future marketing attempts and promotional products obsolete. It’d be better to not send a gift at all than one that comes with a side order of guilt.
Secondly, your cheap and mandatory holiday gift suggests a very tight budget – this is far from the confident, financially strong image you want your clients to have of you. This doesn’t mean you should overspend, however. Your gift should accurately reflect the value of each relationship to your business. A gift that’s gone overboard in terms of cost can also create an uncomfortable situation, or make your organisation appear desperate.
This means that a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all gift simply won’t do.
That brings us to the third impact, which comes from the gift that’s too expensive. This not only makes the client believe that you felt obligated to overdo it, but it obligates them as well. It’s best to keep things professional, as no one wants to feel financially pressured in a personal way.
Stay out of this grey area and you’ll find clients to be communicative, appreciative, and eager to build with you. For some affordable, thoughtful and appropriate corporate gifts, click here.
- No Follow-Through
Any savvy business client knows that as thoughtful as your gift is, there is an intended future gain you’re hoping to achieve by nurturing the relationship. This is expected, and it’s okay. Sending a meaningful Christmas gift that lacks a clearly defined call to action is a tad unflattering to your client’s intelligence.
Some of the best corporate gift ideas compliment the client by sending the message, “We’re thinking about you, and appreciate your business,” while setting the stage for further actions or communications. It’s sort of a recurring “ice-breaker” that never gets old.
Always treat your clients as if you recently acquired their business, and you’ll create powerful connections in your industry, receive loads of referrals, and craft a solid brand persona.
The main difference between advertising material and gift-giving is that the recipient of the latter is almost certain to receive, look at, and consider gifts from known partnerships. This is your chance to reward them for continuing to grant you their attention, while asking (in a subtle way) for them to reach out to you at their convenience.
If your gift doesn’t directly include a call to action, it should be diligently followed up by one. This can be done in as little as a few days or weeks following the holiday season, while you’re still top of mind.
It’s likely that your client will want to chat about the gift with you, tell you their thoughts, and thank you directly – following up with them is a welcomed and appreciated opportunity for them to do so. Visit our home page to begin exploring some of the best conversation-starters, proven time and again to strengthen corporate bonds and foster profitable partnerships.