There are many reasons to give a business gift to a colleague or client. The types of gifts vary for each occasion. It is paramount to understand who and what type of business, general relationship, policies on gift amount limits, culture and region when you decide giving a business gift is appropriate. So try to avoid the embarrassing pitfalls of giving too much or too little by using this guide to help steer you towards success. Here are a few reasons to consider gifting:
Client Retention Campaigns
Trade Show & Events
“No Reason at all”
Individual Taste: Adopt the policy that a gift is for someone else and try to gear your selection towards their tastes and preferences. The catch is that you need to know a few things about their tastes and preferences. Finding out can be an adventure. A few examples are: foods, favorite sports teams, music, events, authors, travel destinations, color preferences and hobbies.
Probe: You may never know unless you ask. Without being “captain obvious” about your intension, a pointed conversation covering general topics should get you the basic background information you need for appropriate planning. Birthdays, special occasions and promotions are just some areas to consider. Where and when is up to you.
Alternative Probing: Sometimes a conversation with your recipient is not an option. Fear not, because making a tactical “back door” call to their colleague or secretary should provide you with at least one target event. Be upfront by explaining your intension: let them know that your gift is a surprise and always remember to thank them for the information. If you are motivated, you could even drop your contact a quick note or a card expressing your gratitude. Remember, “All hail the mighty secretary!” A gatekeeper is seldom impressed. This is your chance to do so when they feel involved in what you are doing.
Your Calendar: Keep your database flourishing with important dates. For example, a personal call on someone’s birthday may just make all the difference in your relationship, even if you leave a voicemail. Having a current calendar assists by helping you avoid last minute shopping. You can plan your ordering and delivery of your gift(s) in a targeted manner.
Creativity: Sometimes creating your own occasion offers a twist to the norm. For a few of your colleagues and clients, certain holidays or occasions offer a mountain of gifts. They have no idea, or in some cases do not care where they came from. Sending a small token may be appropriate, but stand out from the crowd by giving off-season gifts in a scheduled manner. Be consistent. You will have the opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
Your Budget and Legal Allowances: This becomes a juggling act for business people in any number of industries and government to make the gift fit with legal allowances. Some entities allow $25, while others up to $75 or more. We suggest you get the facts for yourself before you continue through our suggestions below. However, if there is no legal cap on your ability to invest in your gift(s), then you need to decide what the breakout of your budget will be. A gift should never look like a bribe! Some companies issue a blanket maximum, while others base budgets on performance levels or even a flat budget. It is up to you to decide how you break that out. Most importantly, try never to embarrass a superior by out spending him or her.
What to give: Now you know what your colleague or client would consider a great gift, your budget is set, but how do you decide what to purchase? That directly correlates with the value of that person as an asset to your organization and your professional relationship with them. Remember, never too personal, but something which will be appreciated. This is a cold statement, but a complete reality. Would you purchase a $2500 watch for a salesperson that loses you money consistently or for the one that just made you a $250K profit this quarter? Sometimes multiple gifts following a theme will be greater then giving just one item as well. For example, if you give a nice bottle of wine, accompany that with tasteful stemware or a jazzy corkscrew. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions broken out by organizational level:
A. CEO/Board Members/VP and Director: At the highest levels, we suggest you try to stay with a more traditional route of standard corporate gifting. This may include quality pens, personalized notepads, desk clock, fine wine, trips or even art. If you are a CEO reading this, then all bets are off and you will garnish presents as you please. For everyone else, depending upon your level and the size of your company, sometimes less is more. K.I.S.S. absolutely applies to you.
B. Middle Management/Supervisor/Supplier: For folks in the middle of the management structure, we suggest a mix of both traditional and non-traditional gifting. These people are the rising stars in most organizations and why not let them feel like it! We still suggest quality pens and desk clocks, but also add tickets, Mp3 players, PDA, dinners, flowers, as well as a weekend “get-away”. The possibilities are enormous!
C. Colleagues/Counterpart/Employees/Speaker: These folks are in the trenches with their sleeves rolled up! Treat them well, for motivation and productivity may just rise! Most at this level really don’t expect much. The “WOW” factor might not have to either when it comes to gifting for them. We suggest personalized desktop or travel items, flowers, tickets, gift baskets, gift cards, wines and even surprise them by letting them off for the afternoon on a Friday.
D. Your Boss: Since this person directly decides if you collect your paycheck and pass go, be extremely tactical when looking for an appropriate gift. Only you know your boss’ personality. Depending upon the size of your company, you may get to know them rather well. If the organization is immense, you may need to ask a close colleague. To repeat from above: Do not out spend your superiors!
E. Your Client: Who keeps the lights on? Your clients do! Since in most cases, your competition is waiting for a slip up, never give them that opportunity. Your database should have multitudes of information about them and their like/dislikes. Trust your instincts, your budget and stay within those parameters. Think about your best client for a moment. What is their birthday? Favorite activity? Goals? Expectations of you? That should already have your brain fired up about what you need for them. We probably do not even need to suggest anything, but, in case you do not have the answers, may we suggest considering all the above? What are they truly worth to you? As a reminder, this is a generalized guide and not written exclusively for multi-million dollar corporations or sole proprietorships, so we must leave it at that. Only you know what your client is worth.
F. Trade Shows and Events: Who just walked up to you? Good thing you probably got their business card. After a few hundred of them, those cards are all you have to remember them by. We suggest bulk purchase items with your company logo. Believe it or not, plastic bags are very appropriate when people are collecting information from many companies over a short period. The standardized gifts of pens, calculators, hand sanitizer, note pads and stress balls all fit the bill.
Surprise: Hand delivering a gift may require an appointment (for something else of course) and offers The Personal Touch. However, some gifts need to be delivered by a courier.
Thank You: Professional gifts are a great way to say thank you. This not only can help you to brand yourself, but your company as well. Gifts show respect for the recipient when they are thoughtful by acknowledging your relationship. Plus it is a great way to keep your business card in their hand and your company on their mind.
Gift Wrapping: One of the most overlooked ways to “un-impress” someone is to give them a gift that looks like you wrapped it in twenty seconds or less. The quality of the gift can be diminished by the first impression. There are many brands and styles of gift wrapping out there. Make sure yours is appropriate. BusinessGifts.me always suggests The Personal Touch when choosing how to impress. Beautiful rice paper vs. newspaper is just one example of how to make even that $50 box of chocolates look like they are so much more. Not all gifts need you to wrap them, because the status and prestige of the store it came from can offer a much higher impact to the recipient. High end brand names are stand alone. Think about receiving a “gold bag” of chocolates accompanied by a “blue box” of jewelry with satin ribbon. We rest our case.
Correspondence: Even the most lavish gifts can be compromised if you give a generic or unprofessional card. If at all possible, handwrite a sincere and professional note.
Delivery: Face to face delivery is the best way to give your recipient their gift. Practically, this is hardly ever an option. If that is the case, always send your gifts first class or a similar option with your preferred business carrier. The third class delivery option may save you a few bucks, but could insult the person receiving it.
Gift Etiquette: If you delivered the gift yourself and they opened it right in front of you, it is very appropriate to see how they have or are enjoying it. Tickets, dinner reservations or other date-sensitive gifts fall into this category. But, not always, so use your best judgment when venturing into the topic. They will usually bring it up first. Asking: “Did you get my gift?” is probably the absolute worst thing to do with your recipient if you have not received a thank you yet. What if they did not receive it? You could stand a good chance of ruining the surprise. Plus, it is quite frankly poor etiquette. Surprising someone is a personal excitement which they may need to enjoy during the right moment in their day. A wrapped gift offers anticipation and excitement when sitting on the edge or a desk.
We hope this guide has been helpful to you in understanding what business gifts represent and can help steer you in the right direction in your decision. It is always recommended that you check any questions you may have with the appropriate parties. Remember The Personal Touch can make all the difference. Please visit our store!