Corporate gift giving is serious business. As part of a well-considered program, it can help establish or enhance critical relationships and become a cost-effective means of recognizing activities that benefit the business. This article describes the many issues to consider if a corporate gift program is to succeed.
According to numerous surveys, most business gifts are given to major clients. After that comes employees, then prospective clients. Reasons for gift giving range from thanking long-standing customers for their business to recognizing a valued employee for working on a weekend. The basic reason is the same: to affirm relationships and enhance the personal connection between giver and recipient.
Gifts differ from incentives in that they’re offered with no explicit preconditions for performance. They differ from ad specialties in that they don’t contain any blatant imprints or advertising. They differ from recognition in that they’re not part of prescribed programs. But that doesn’t mean there’s no bottom-line benefit to be derived from corporate gift giving. For some companies, it’s an essential part of their marketing strategy. And just about everyone agrees that, done correctly, gift giving is a cost-effective way to build a sense of partnership with valued associates.
Although there’s some hard evidence relating corporate gift giving to increased business activity, it probably won’t give you the ability to make specific return-on-investment projections in your marketing plan.
Surveys have been done for corporate gift givers and recipients. They have shown that vendors who gave were twice as likely to increase their chances of being contacted by recipients as those that didn’t have a gift program. Chances are you won’t be expected to come up with any kind of hard data for this type of program, since the relationship-building pluses are pretty obvious, and the costs are relatively low.
To recognize what an effective gift strategy is, it helps to understand what it isn’t. Start by making the distinction between corporate gift giving and incentive programs. Though gifts and incentive awards often involve similar types of recipients, they differ on both a strategic and practical level. Incentives are awards for achieving defined levels of activity, such as sales quotas, safety improvements, or good attendance. In contrast, gifts are more or less spontaneous, not given as part of any defined arrangement between giver and recipient. The gift recipient doesn’t consciously set goals in anticipation of a reward, whereas the incentive recipient does.
It’s tempting to view gift and incentive programs in the same light. After all, you want to know that you’re getting your money’s worth from any business investment, and most givers want to motivate the recipient in one way or another. But be careful: Leaving customers or employees with the impression that they’re being bribed can do more harm than good. Instead, look at gift giving as a subtle, long-term process of relationship-building, following the basic guidelines described in this article so that they remain within tasteful and ethical bounds.
Happy Gifts Giving !!!