Corporate gifting is a big headache for most business owners; how much to spend, who to spend the money on, where to get the gifts, what to get and how to gauge the effect of that giving in terms of benefits for the company are all important questions. When a company decides to give gifts it needs to be planned out as part of doing business, not just a last minute impulse. The cost of gifting should be built in to the cost of your product and used when evaluating your break even point.
With a plan for gifting as part of the cost of the product you will never come up short in November or offend someone by getting a gift for one employee but not another. Gifting in terms of employees can be figured as a part of income, like a benefit. You can even state that to your employees if it traslates into giving bonuses or extra days off with pay. But not if you plan to give birhtday presents. The bottom line is; gifting needs to be planned, budgeted, and scheduled. When handled this way gift giving stress evaporates.
1. Why are you going to give gifts?
a. ) to ensure customer loyalty
b. ) to build relationships
c. ) to create an image
d. ) to reward important customers
e. ) as a marketing strategy
f. ) to reduce employee turnover
g. ) to reward employee performance
h. ) to say thank you
i. ) insure good service by vendors
j. ) congratulations
k. ) to create goodwill
Establish what each of these areas might mean in terms of frequency. How often would you reward employees, how often would you give a gift to a vendor? What benefit are you specifically looking for? Giving a gift to a vendor because he is always on time will probably result in a continuation of that behaviour. If your employee has brought you customers and referrals what are those referrals worth, can you afford NOT to reward the employee for that kind of enthusiasm?
Do not confuse discounts with gifting. They are not the same thing! Unless you have a product that you know the recipient really wants, don't give your products as gifts. It is seen as advertising not as a gift!
Never use promotional products, with your company name and web adress on it as gifts! These are viewed on an even lower scale! People see them as leftovers from a trade show. . . that is NOT a good thing!
3 solid rules for gifts!
1. Do not give perishables without a including a non perishable item! Apples and popcorn will be gone and forgotten in a matter of days! A beautiful picture frame will be on someones desk for years to come, Reminding them of your thoughtfulness!
2. Think before you give. . . who are you giving to and what is their lifestyle. A bookstore gift card may wind up being sold at a discount on the internet or regifted if the person never reads.
3. Always think quality rather than quantity. A single $25 classic pen is much better than a cheap $25 stationary set with a cheap diary, poor quality paper, pencil, eraser, and poorly printed folder and a pen if the pen never works and the paper is so cheap the person would be embarassed to use it.
Gift baskets are great, but once again remember that food is gone in a week. . . you want to gift gifts that keep on giving for months or even years. There are a few places such as Lasting Impressions 2 that provide custom gift baskets that include non perishable products selected especially for the recipent. For instance if you have a client that loves golf, has 3 kids, drinks Starbuck's coffee, and wears glasses a custom basket might include golf balls, a gift certificate for a family portrait from a local photo studio, a starbucks commuter cup, and a trendy glasses case. That kind of gift will be remembered for years to come. Instead of $150.00 of chocolates and coffee you have given a very special gift that says you are an important client.
Customize your gift giving but maintain a standard cost for gifting. For instance, maybe employee birthdays should be limited to $10-$20 dollars and client gifts 5% of their annual value in sales. Only you can decide the dollar limits. . . every business is different. If you own a 99 cent store you will not be giving your stock boys trips to the Bahamas. By the same token, if you are a sucessful doctor in Beverly Hills a $5.00 birthday gift for your nurse might seem inappropriate and downright rude!
If all of this seems a little overwhelming remember that once the plan is laid out and you have a vendor for your gifts, year after year you can use the same plan or fine tune it depending on how your business is doing. But one thing is for cetain people will see you in a positive light and the marketing power of good gift giving will traslate into low turn over, and client loyalty and referrals.
Meredith Gossland is owner of Lasting Impressions 2 a small business marketing service provider. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at http://www.lastingimpressions2.com