Often, buying a gift for someone can give as much pleasure as receiving one. We give presents to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and other events and holidays throughout the year, or even just as a simple thank you or mark of appreciation.
In business, corporate gifting is just as important. Although the reasons for gifting to our clients or in the workplace are different, putting thought into the gift is important. Corporate gifts to our clients and our workforce are as much banking for the future as they are a mark of appreciation and can be vital in both building and maintaining successful and lucrative future working relationships.
Regularly rewarding your workforce at all levels will build the kind of staff loyalty that helps to keep your recruitment costs low, and means that you can concentrate on building your business instead of constantly looking for new staff. HR departments spend nearly 28 days a year on recruitment in the UK every year, with an average spend of a quarter of the employee’s starting salary. Keeping the staff you already have both happy and engaged will cut these costs significantly. In addition, the team that feels valued and trusted will in turn pass that feeling on to your clients, meaning that both stick around for longer, and don’t give either their custom or their industry knowledge to your competitors instead.
If recruitment costs aren’t surprising enough, the UK Chartered Institute of Marketing estimates that it can cost up to ten times more to find and secure a new client than it does to maintain and work with one that you already have. If you factor in the relatively low take-up rate from the average email campaign – around 1.95% - and how impersonal modern methods of marketing can be, you can see how important it is for your business to invest time and money in what you already have. The more valued your existing clients feel, the more they will trust you and your company. And the more they trust you and your company, the more business they are likely to put your way, and the more they are likely to spend.
However, there are gifts, and then there are gifts. Blanket branded items with your company logo can be a useful marketing tool, but they should never – or at least, rarely – be considered an appropriate corporate gift. They are, in effect, the socks and handkerchiefs of the corporate gifting world, and have a tendency to say exactly the same thing; I’m obliged to give a gift, but I don’t really know what interests you, or what you would find entertaining or useful. Unless you’re doing something innovative or special with them, make your corporate gifting strategy more imaginative. Just as there are rules for how you conduct your business, there are rules for how you go about corporate gifting.
Be careful not to overspend
It can be extremely tempting to spend big on a valuable client, especially if they account for a sizeable proportion of your turnover, or in turn, bring additional business to you through recommendations (more on that later). However, a lavish and expensive corporate gift can backfire by sending the message that you think their business can be bought, and worse still, the even less appealing message that you think the people you are dealing with directly can be bought. This can be distasteful and even offensive enough that you end up losing their business and a valuable client anyway. It can be a useful strategy to set a budget – and perhaps even stick to the same kind of corporate gift – for all your clients, and to keep to it. It sends a positive message that all your clients are of value to you.
The same goes for internal gifting; performance-related bonuses can be out of the reach of some staff due to the nature of the value that they bring to your company. For example, you might not be able to run your business without your administrative support staff, but they’re likely to be saving you money rather than directly making you money. Again, physical gifts send a message of equal value.
Put some thought into it
It can be very tempting to take the easy route and buy a crate of champagne so that you can gift your clients and employees a bottle from time to time. However, it can pay dividends to pay close attention to their likes and dislikes, and to pitch your corporate gifting accordingly.
Your customer-facing and client liaison staff will be your most valuable tool in pooling knowledge about your clients, as they are likely to have built the kind of personal relationships over time that will establish what their likes and dislikes are, and what kind of corporate gift will be appreciated. Your CRM system isn’t just for noting their contact details; make a note of birthdays, anniversaries, product launches, favourite football teams, and indeed anything that will enable you to tailor your gift with a personal touch. For example, a tea drinker will appreciate a hamper of luxury teas far better than someone who cannot face the start of the working day without a coffee. Similarly, note any allergies or dietary requirements if gifting chocolate.
Tickets to sporting and theatrical events are often popular. Some venues will even encourage the sponsorship of corporate seats, meaning that you have access to even the hottest tickets in town.
Useful and practical gifts can also go a very long way. A bookworm client is likely to be happier with a book, or even a book token from a high-end bookshop as they are with a gift of wine or chocolates, however much they might appreciate those too. That’s also a gift that shows that you listen to their personal likes and dislikes. If you’re taking note of those, then you’re more likely to be paying close attention to their needs in your business dealings too.
Brush up your handwriting
Once you’ve identified the perfect personal gift for your client, go the extra mile and include a branded note. If the majority of your communication is via email or over the telephone, the personal touch can be a powerful tool and sends the message that you are happy to take the time out of your day to deliver a corporate gift.
Also, there’s something to be said for tailoring when you gift to what’s appropriate for you, or indeed for your client. Most corporate gift-giving takes places at Christmas or other significant dates, such as Halloween or even Valentine’s Day. It’s easy for the impact of your gift to get lost, especially if your client is inundated with other corporate sweeteners. Instead, pick a date or business period which holds significance for you or your client. Your client might have launched a new product, or be celebrating a significant birthday, or have raised money for charity – all of these occasions are a good time to send something to say congratulations.
Don’t leave your new clients out either; a welcome gift will help to establish the new working relationship and show that you are keen to deliver their business needs and retain their custom. And if an existing client has brought you new business, marking the referral with a thank you gift is appropriate.
To find out more about our corporate chocolate gifts just drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!