As businesses are getting ready to send out their holiday gifts to customers, partners and vendors, it can be stressful to figure out what to actually buy for these people. Send a gift that’s impersonal or not relevant to your recipient and you risk hurting your own brand’s reputation and you partnerships.
As the CEO of Knack, a modern gift-giving company, I know how you feel. Pre-packaged gift boxes rarely fit the bill as companies want to give meaningful gifts that tell their stories and move forward their relationships. That’s what we focus on.
To help you figure out the best gift to give (and get a great ROI), I have provided some useful tips based on a recent survey we conducted.
Related: The 3 Holiday Gifts All Entrepreneurs Need
1. Select gifts that embody your brand values.
Whether your organization’s values are supporting female-led businesses, cutting-edge technology or giving back to certain causes, your gifts should be an accurate reflection of your brand. So, if you’re an outdoor eco-friendly company, your gifts should be sustainably sourced. If you’re a service organization doing business in a tight geographic area, consider local artisans for your gift items.
A good business gifts supplier should start by asking you about your values and what message you’d like your gifts to send. If they don’t, find another supplier.
2. Make it memorable.
Recipients who reported receiving a memorable gift are 33 percent more likely to state that they feel more connected to the brand and 20 percent more likely to alter their behavior as a result, according to our research. So what makes a gift memorable? In a word: stories.
The story might be as simple as “I selected this for you because…,” “We discovered this product when…” or “This year we’re giving XXX because…” but the story will help them remember your gift long after the physical gift has been used.
3. Add a non-consumable item to your food gifts.
Adding one or two non-food items to the gift can increase its memorability by 30 percent, according to our survey.
What can remain in the office after your recipients have enjoyed the treats in their gift? An office terrarium for the break room; interesting coasters for the board room; a cutting board, or tea towel for the kitchen. Permanent items like these will keep your gift top-of-mind long after the goodies are gone.
4. Target $100 per gift nationally.
We learned that $100 is the national average price point for a business gift that satisfies nearly all recipients. But gift expectations vary significantly by region: if the bulk of your business clientele is based in the Northeast, expect to spend $50 more on average than gifts for clients in the West and South.
Related: The 25 Best Social Media-Inspired Gifts
5. Logo the packaging, not the gift.
Although swag can be effective as a marketing tool, when it comes to business partner gifting, our data says to think twice about giving items with your logo on them. Indeed, people who received items with the company’s logo were 30 percent less likely to report being satisfied or very satisfied with the gift.
6. If you must put your logo on it, make the item worth their while.
Unfortunately, many items with company logos on them end up being “regifted” in some way shortly after being received. This varies by region of the country, but in general, it’s a toss-up on whether the item you took pains to brand with your logo will stay around long enough to remind the recipient of your generosity. Your best shot: make the item itself something irresistible and not just another cooler or coffee mug.
7. Cash is not king for business gifting.
This was one of our biggest revelations: 83 percent of recipients prefer “unique and useful” items over gift cards that give cash or store credit. A good rule of thumb? Think gifts that recipients wouldn’t buy for themselves.
8. Include the boss in your gifting plans.
The team at the top of the organization also appreciates receiving a gift, and can move the needle even further for your brand. Indeed, we found that nearly all of C-Suite gift recipients report being satisfied with their gifts—more than any other level of recipient (directors, managers and entry level). You don’t need to spend more on them, just be sure to include them on your gift list, even if you don’t interface with them as often as direct contacts.
9. Include a personal note to reinforce the connection.
Even a simple note that acknowledges the recipient’s role in your business’ success will help to deepen their connection to your brand.
Related: 44 Top Gifts for Entrepreneurs
10. Understand the local values.
If your gifts recipients are concentrated in one area of the country – or you have the luxury of creating a few different gifts for your national gifting campaign – take the time to understand how attitudes toward different types of gifts vary around the country. For example, humorous gifts are appreciated in the Northeast but might backfire for you in the South. Food gifts are most common in the South but least preferred by recipients in the West.
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