Ground Rules for Holiday Gifting

A Sure-fire Way to Show Client Appreciation

The holidays snuck up on your team again and you’re in a panic to figure out a gift for your clients. Although it can be a low priority, finding the right gift could have significant impact on your relationships with customers.

The Advertising Specialty Institute says the amount companies are planning to spend on customer gifts is up 30 percent this year. Top gift categories include food/beverages and gift cards, according to the ASI “2018 Corporate Gift Giving Survey.”

The ASI survey reinforces what we know to be true: Gifts at the holidays are key to showing appreciation, developing relationships and generate company goodwill.

But none of that solves your immediate problem: You don’t know what to give this year. As you’re brainstorming ideas, your team throws out several suggestions: A bag with your logo — you have a stash of those on hand from an earlier campaign, a bottle of wine and a trip to the Bahamas (!).

The problem with these suggestions? They don’t consider any key parameters. You need to set some realistic ground rules. When thinking about what to give customers during the holidays, keep these four pieces of advice in mind:

  1. Gifts should focus on showing appreciation.
  2. Gifts should be personal and consider the recipients’ interests.
  3. Gifts should consider your budget.
  4. Gifts should make your company stand out.

With these parameters in place, your team offers some more measured ideas. One of your customers loves to golf. Golf balls could be a good gift but even better would be a new product designed to help improve her golf game. A different customer frequently goes to Napa Valley. A bottle of wine could be considered predictable and not special, but finding a local wine tasting or tour would be a slam dunk. Another client enjoys traveling and already is planning an international trip. A gift complete with luggage tags, passport covers, books or magazines and earbuds and a blanket could provide some much-needed comfort on a long flight.

Not everyone has this much time or energy to devote to thinking of gifts or your list is so huge that it’s not reasonable to craft this type of present for each person. Instead, find a gift solution that allows some measure of personalization.

Important note: Do not try to pass of logoed marketing materials as gifts. These kinds of “gifts” don’t consider what the recipient may find valuable and often they will end up in the trash.

The holidays provide a wonderful opportunity to thank customers for their business but it’s important to put some thought into what to give. Sending an impractical or not well thought out gift could impact the way your customers think of your business. The reverse is true as well, though. Sending a considerate gift will reinforce positive feelings your customers have about your company.