How to get it right: The secrets to business gifting

Strategic gifting is an age-old method of creating warmer and more lasting business relationships. In fact, there are situations in which presenting contacts with a meaningful gift is not only advantageous but considered mandatory.

For example, if your company attends a major trade show, going empty-handed may prove costly. When important customers come to your stand, a strong handshake and a welcoming smile may not be enough. Especially if your competitors are close by and ready with something special to hand out to key targets.

Or, when you travel abroad to carry out negotiations with a new client, a commemorative gift can seal the deal with style. Leaving with no more than a backward glance can appear rather too casual.

Are business gifts bribes?

Business gifting is not bribery, however. Few deals are made solely on how gorgeous the freebie was. It’s about showing your organisation in the best possible light.

Corporate gifting is to demonstrate that you care about them and that you value their custom. Everyone appreciates it when an organisation or individual takes the time to say “thank you”.

One of the secrets of business gifting, therefore, is choosing something that displays attention to detail and an appreciation of their individual interests and preferences.

But herein lies an important differential.

The secret is in the thought behind it

Get business gifting wrong and it’s not only a waste of money and time, its counterintuitive. A shoddy, tacky or inappropriate gift can actually damage your reputation. The same applies to an item heavily branded, which seems too obvious a sales ploy. It can make your company look cheap, thoughtless or too pushy.

On the other hand, if you give something too ostentatious or costly, it can create embarrassment. No client wants to feel “obliged” to continue to do business with you, or that you are buying their loyalty.

Keep it personal

Getting it right involves one core fact. Your customers want to be treated as individuals. They want to be flattered and looked after, not treated like they are on a sales conveyor belt. This is true from the small shop customer to the global contract negotiator.

Personalisation is now the buzzword for all marketing and communications and the same applies to strategic gifting. In an ideal world, you could get to know every customer well and select a tasteful and expensive experience voucher or physical item for each one.

If that’s not possible, at least make sure that your corporate gift is thoughtful and well presented. Try to be creative and think of fresh ideas, rather than the same old tired items that every other company commission and send out.

Another secret is to check nothing about your gift is likely to offend religious or cultural sensibilities. At the very least, make your packaging smart and reflective of your brand identity for business gifting.

If you can’t afford expensive individually branded items for your key contacts, it could be more cost-effective to personalise the box or wrapping. Making packaging look luxurious and aspirational – and adding your customer’s name – can lift the perceived value of the gift substantially.

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