The holidays may be over, but that doesn’t mean your days of gift giving have come to an end. In fact, a recent survey of major corporations showed that more than 70% of people prefer to get gifts for major milestones such as a work anniversary or a birthday rather than a Christmas present. Gift giving is difficult for a lot of people, and it can have a direct impact on your business. It requires major research, and if you have a bevy of clients, that can be tough. However, a well-timed gift can mean a lot to a client and can help keep a client relationship strong.
The perils of poor gifting
Think about how you feel when you get a gift that you know you’re never going to use.
Maybe you get a fancy bottle of wine, but you gave up drinking a while ago. Maybe you get a batch of expensive brownies when you’re health conscious. Maybe you appreciate the fact that someone thought of you at all, but clients (for the most part) do not feel particularly excited when they receive a gift that clearly is not aligned with their interests. And, too often, this is what happens!
A poorly chosen gift can have the reverse effect from showing a client that you care; instead it sends the signal that they are not valuable enough to receive a gift that actually means anything to them. This happens with gift giving on a large scale as well as personalized gifts. Too often, at a conference or convention, the 500 branded stress balls you hand out are destined to be repurposed as pet chew toys.
An opportunity to ‘wow’
With every gift given, you have to think carefully about the exact message you’re sending to the client. Perhaps your company has beautiful, expensive jackets made for specific clients in their size — with your company’s name plastered all over them. The underlying subtext here is that you want more business, and that you’d like the client to do the advertising for you.
Research from the 2016 Alyce Corporate Gifting Survey reveals that 90% of people simply aren’t interested in swag. Yet, a large portion of the $120 billion annually spent on corporate gifts still goes towards these unwelcome gifts. It’s a waste of time and money on a monumental scale.
Instead, business owners, account managers, and sales reps should choose to give clients a personalized gift that tells them how much you value them as a person first and as a customer second.
How to deliver a gift at the right time
When you give a gift matters; examples of inopportune times include the day you announce a price increase or when you decide to reach out to a customer to pitch them a new product or service. Rather, you should be looking for reasons to give gifts several weeks before a major deal goes through or a new product launches.
These gifts should come across as a gesture of goodwill rather than a bid for new business. It’s especially crucial that your top clients are treated with extra care when it comes the timing of your gift delivery. This can be done in a number of ways, such as celebrating unconventional dates like the one-year anniversary of your first contact with that customer. The key is knowing the client and what they’ll be most likely to respond to.
Curbing your costs
The best thing about thoughtful gift giving on this kind of scale (in addition to the development of stronger relationships with buyers) is that it can end up saving you money overall.
Regardless of whether you’re giving out hundreds of pens or one $300 bottle of champagne, you can find ways to cut your costs while maintaining a strong reputation. It could mean offering a client a $50 cooking lesson rather than spending $100 on a gift certificate to a fancy restaurant they have no interest in dining at.