Today, customers are more informed and empowered than ever. They are talking about your brand with their friends, colleagues and complete strangers through social media and through comments on review sites. All of this has increased competition. To build loyalty, drive brand awareness and positive word of mouth, a thoughtful gift can be just the right touch to let your clients and customers know that their business is appreciated.
Corporate gifts are a marketing investment. You can strengthen relationships with your best customers, improve your relationships with marginal customers and encourage that all important second purchase from new customers. Here are seven fundamental considerations when selecting corporate gifts.
Give something useful
The research shows that the most appreciated and effective items are those that get used. Think writing instruments, desk top items or travel accessories for your clients whose jobs keep them on the road. Every time they reach for it – your brand will be front and center, keeping you top of mind and making a positive impression.
Check to see if there are limits on receiving gifts
Many organizations, especially those in the financial or public sectors, place strict limits on the value of gifts that their employees can receive. It pays to know if there are limits before you send a gift to avoid the awkwardness of the recipient needing to return it.
Quality doesn’t mean expensive, it just means quality. The gift you give is a reflection of your brand and a reflection on the value you place on the business relationship. A small gift can be of good quality. And if you take the time to package it nicely and include a personalized note, the perceived quality and value is increased.
Check IRS regulations on gift giving
Few things suggest holiday cheer less than the IRS. However, it may be worth checking their gift regulations before you choose your gifts.
IRS Publication 463 (Published Feb. 20, 2013 for use in preparing 2012 returns) provides information regarding business gifts. They are typically limited to a value of $25, but you’ll want to check at IRS.gov for the most current information.
Know your client and your client’s company
Take the time to understand if a specific holiday gift – such as Hanukkah, Kwanza or Christmas – is appropriate for your client and their company. In most cases, a non-specific holiday gift is most appropriate in a business relationship. But if your client is a faith-based organization, a holiday-specific gift could help you stand out and be more appreciated for its thoughtfulness.
Keep your branding discrete
While it may seem a little counter-intuitive, consider how prominent you want your logo to be on the product. A gift is an expression of appreciation – not a promotion. In some cases, and with some products, you may even want to limit branding to the ribbon or wrapping paper. In other cases, discretely including your company name with a brief message may be more appropriate than a full color logo. It depends on the product, the client and the message you want to convey.
Don’t wait until Thanksgiving
You want to be sure you send the right gift for your customer and your brand. Putting it off until late November doesn’t allow you the flexibility or the time to make a thoughtful selection and ordering at the last minute can increase your costs. Ordering early means your gift will be one of the first received during the holidays and ensures your customer won’t be out of the office for the holidays when your gift arrives.