In 2021, business relationships will be more important than ever to drive growth in companies of all shapes and sizes. Why? Simply put, healthy relationships with clients foster loyalty that will help you win in the long-run. With increased business competition and concerns over economic volatility, relationships should be at the forefront of every business leader’s mind.
The simple goal of corporate gift-giving is to build better business relationships. However, it is easier said than done. How do you choose the best gift? When do you give a gift? How much should an item cost?
This post will cover everything you need to know about how to succeed in B2B or B2C gifting during the holiday season and in 2021.
Check The Company’s Corporate Gifting Policy
Avoid Unprofessional Gifts
Get to Know Your Gift Recipient
Create a Framework for Gift Ideas
Time Your Gifts Appropriately
Humanize Your Approach
Before brainstorming good gifting ideas, it is important to make sure you’re not crossing any legal boundaries that the prospect’s company has put in place. Some companies, especially bigger corporations such as FedEx in the United States, have their own gifting policies that their employees must abide by. Why do companies have corporate gifting policies? Simply put, companies are protecting themselves from ethical issues that may arise when third parties send gifts to their employees.
Continuing with FedEx as the example, their website details what is acceptable, including what is deemed appropriate and the maximum value that third parties are allowed to send their employees. It even states that employees must ask permission from upper management if gifts are over $75 in value.
Although it seems like a hassle to research, it avoids the headache of giving gifts that employees cannot legally receive. You can do your research in three basic ways:
Do a quick Google search. Type in “(Company Name) Corporate Gifting Policy”. In some cases, the company will have a dedicated page that you could look at.
Ask the company or prospect’s administration department. More often than not, the receptionist of a smaller organization or the administrative department of a larger company will have an answer for you regarding this.
Take a strategic guess. Larger companies usually have these policies in place, while startups may be more flexible. If within your research process you cannot find a gifting policy, the company’s policy is likely similar to companies within their region with similar practices or similar in size.
Although this may seem like a no-brainer piece of advice, your gifting efforts can be undermined by a bad gift. What does a bad corporate gift look like and what message does it send to your prospect or employee?
These are the top 3 types of gifts to avoid:
Roses or other romantic gifts: These types of gifts send a confusing and inappropriate message to your gift recipient. Avoid these gifts at all costs and double-check elements of a gift that may send this message. For example, if you’re gifting chocolates, make sure the printing on the chocolates and the packaging (for example, if it is heart-shaped) are business-friendly. A good test of this is to ask yourself: “If I were to receive this myself, will I get the wrong idea?” Feel free to ask a colleague or us here at Giftpack if you want a second opinion.
Your company’s swag gifts: This is a tricky gift idea. On one hand, it may put your company brand in their mind. This is a good move if the gift recipient is a company shareholder, an employee or has a personal relationship with your company already, such as a loyal B2C customer. Even so, generically branded gifts without customization do not make a strong impression. Company swag is a terrible idea if you’re sending out a gift to someone with little knowledge of your company. As a gift, it can come off very sales-y and unthoughtful, even if the value of the gift is significant. Try not to confuse company samples with corporate gifting, as they are different strategies.
Generic gift cards: This is still a common practice for internal gifting, but a dying trend for ABM sales and marketing relationships. Why are these gifts not ideal? For one, there could be an issue with providing cash value equivalent, as mentioned in the section on company policy. The other issue is the money value — your client will know the true value of your gift, which will be a point of judgment, especially if the value is underwhelming. Lastly, it is difficult to be memorable with a generic gift card, if other companies have been doing the same thing.
The more you know your corporate gift recipient, the easier the gifting decision is. There are little techniques to talk about this depending on what stage the business relationship is at.
In-person connections: Were you introduced by a mutual connection? Are you familiar with people who might have worked with him closely, such as their assistant? Do you interact with them often enough to ask about their interests? Do your due diligence before purchasing a gift. It is often helpful to have more than one option, and you can use them as references when asking for someone’s opinion.
In-person or online connections: We are lucky to live in the internet age, where traditional search tools such as Google or dedicated business tools such as Rapportive exist to help us find out more about a recipient. Using a combination of search tools is essential if you have very little in-person interaction with someone. There are also services such as Giftpack that help track an individual’s social interests and delivers the best gift to them.
This is a great tip for people who like to have an analytical approach to gifting. Frameworks in your mind or on paper can contain a couple of questions that help approve or disapprove of a gift idea. A sample framework can look like this:
Who is the gift recipient and what message am I trying to send to the recipient?
Is the budget reasonable given my relationship to the recipient?
Is it an “unwanted gift” (see the section above)?
Is the gift appropriate for the occasion?
Will this gift be unique enough to stand-out against competitors?
Using this framework, let’s evaluate a case scenario: Imagine you’re a real estate agent that helps clients buy condos in Cupertino, California. Your gift recipient is your client Linda, who has recently moved into her new condo in the area. The holidays are coming up and you would like to say “best of luck with your new adventure” to your client. The value of the condo is significant and Linda has mentioned she has an interest in plants. You find out Money Trees are around $75-$100, symbolize “luck” and are easy to maintain. You attached a thoughtful handwritten card with your business card to it, letting her know she can reach out anytime. The gift is a unique housewarming gift and shows that you have Linda’s best interest at heart. Every time Linda waters this plant, she’ll think about how you’ve helped her find her dream condo.
Timing is almost as important as the gift you send. Both elements should go hand-in-hand when creating a gifting campaign. It is helpful to take time and decide on touchpoints where gifting is appropriate. A B2C example could be a loyal customer’s birthday or hitting a purchasing milestone. A B2B example could be thanking a potential client for their time with a gift that arrives the same week you met with them or a congratulatory gift for your employee for their promotion.
We hope you enjoyed this introductory strategy guide on corporate gifting. Gifting is still an effective way of bringing business relationships closer. However, in 2019 and moving forward in 2020, it is important to find the best strategies to make your gifting efforts worthwhile and stand out from the crowd. Most importantly, make sure to keep in mind that at the end of the day, the client or employee you’re giving a gift to is not just a headcount, rather, a unique person. It is important to make your best attempt as a business person and an organization to do your research.
If you or your organization is looking to gift smarter, Giftpack’s Enterprise platform is a great solution that combines human power with AI assistance. The Artificial Intelligence assistant will help do the research for everyone for insights and even choose the gift for you in seconds. We even cover shipping and delivery, to make sure to be the most convenient all-in-one solution for a busy founder, HR manager, salesperson or even executive assistants.
article written by Eric Fang