How Corporate Gifts Create Obligation

Ideally, the result of corporate gifting is an enhanced perception of your company by your customers and clients. Recipients of your gifts should look favorably upon your company as a result of the gift and should be encouraged to want to continue using your products or services. Gifting is also a relatively inexpensive way to create employee goodwill and loyalty.

Do not be mistaken; corporate gifts are not donations. A well-conceived corporate gift is in fact, an investment. It is simply good business to provide customers and employees with thoughtful incentives to continue their relationship with your company. However, it is easier than you might think to create more harm than benefit.

The classic example of the corporate gift faux pas is the construction company in California that gave a group of Taiwanese business executives green baseball caps without knowing that in China, a green cap indicates that a man’s wife has been unfaithful. The more common damage occurs when giving a gift that is perceived as self-serving rather than altruistic. It is better to give nothing than to create an image of cheapness with throwaway trinkets.

Naturally you want to get your brand in front of as many eyes as possible, but use logo and tag lines judiciously. For example, don’t plaster them all over a clock or vase that someone may actually want to use. Logos are much more appropriate for calendars, pens, etc.

The goal is to create a subconscious feeling of indebtedness from the recipient. A prospect receiving a useful desktop item with your name on it is more likely to contact you rather than search for your competitor. That’s just human nature and you are wise to capitalize upon it.

Here are some other tips on how to ensure positive ROI from corporate gift giving and create a feeling of goodwill and indebtedness toward your company:

  1. Timing and appropriateness are important. Simply put yourself in your recipient’s place and imagine receiving that item at that time. Since nearly half of all gift giving occurs in the fourth quarter, that is a good place to begin.
  2. Many gifts create high emotional value for a relatively low cost, such as a holiday turkey or Valentine’s chocolates or flowers.
  3. On the other hand, wearable items constitute 30% of all corporate gifts and offer better branding value over a longer term.
  4. Your gifting campaign should directly support other marketing activities whenever possible. If you are in the gourmet food products industry, sending a small complimentary bag of chocolate espresso beans to retail market buyers makes a lot of sense.
  5. Typically, there are three levels of gifting: giveaways, standard (with a higher value and more personal) and luxury. Don’t send a giveaway to your number one client and don’t over-give; the obligation to use your company in the future should be subtle, not obvious bribery.
  6. Establish objectives and create your gifting program around them. Some of those are appreciation, brand awareness, client retention, new business, image enhancement, product promotion, and staff motivation.
  7. Be sure the gift is welcome. Avoid anything with direct or indirect religious, political, or cultural innuendo.
  8. Keep your gifts impersonal. It is very easy to miss the mark with perfume or jewelry, for instance. Electronics are safer and have much wider appeal.
  9. Go for unique, clever, and cool whenever possible. It will directly reflect on the perception the recipient develops toward your company.
  10. Even though most gifting occurs during the holidays also consider a campaign for new product or service launches and company anniversaries.

A well-conceived gifting program will always result in more benefit than cost. If you take the time to evaluate your options thoroughly, establish a workable budget, and do good research, your efforts will be rewarded.