For many industries and organizations, summer is the often considered “the dead zone.” Employees take vacations, clients don’t respond to your emails, and many travel for conferences and tradeshows. This is often an excuse to sit back, relax, and let your whoever matters the most to your business fly under the radar. We often think “we’ll get in touch with them once summer is over” or “they’ll come by a month or two after fiscal year ends.” We may even think our clients or employees “need a break.” In reality, many of those individuals who you think are too busy or uninterested in the summer are often doing exactly what you’re doing—nothing. What does this mean? It means that summer could be an untapped opportunity to strengthen relationships with your top prospects, clients, donors, and employees.
In 1992 Daniel Howard, a marketing professor at Southern Methodist University, published a study that sought to determine if gift wrapping positively affects the recipient’s attitude toward possessing a gift. Like many psychological studies, there are often sleights that trick the participants into giving a more accurate response, and this one was no different. One of the experiments asked students to evaluate four different products in exchange for a free gift. Before leaving the room, the students were asked to rate the gift they received, which happened to be what the whole experiment was about. What did they receive? A sheepskin bicycle cover. What is even more interesting is that the students who received the bicycle cover that was wrapped rated the gift significantly higher than those who received the gift in a plastic bag. Another experiment tested the effect of the quality of wrapping paper on how the recipient perceived the gift. This yielded similar results. Even the gifts wrapped in cheap brown paper were rated higher than those not wrapped at all.
Since a lot of gifts are given out of organizational compulsion or tradition, most people do not realize the opportunity that is present when it comes to giving corporate gifts. If done correctly, corporate gifts are a great opportunity to grow your business, strengthen relationships with those who matter most to your business, and differentiate your brand in and a tangible and visceral way. Furthermore, they are often either misused or not used, which creates a strategic advantage for those who learn to use them well.
If you’re interested at all in cultivating relationships whether for work or for your personal life, you know how difficult it is to capture the attention of people today. Whether you work in management, recruit volunteers for a local non-profit, or you just want to be a good colleague, it’s an uphill battle to have meaningful and impactful communication in today’s world. What about email? What about a text message? Can we expect to beat Amazon for someone’s attention in front of their laptop, television, phone, or tablet? Emails are great, but they fall short. Texts are great (if you happen to be close enough to the individual), yet texts don’t stick around—they get deleted.
When it comes to business-related gifts (client gifts, employee gifts, donor gifts, etc.), most people feel the need to give one around the classic milestones or holidays (Christmas, when the client signs up, an employee work anniversary, etc.). The downside of giving gifts within these typical milestones is that they are often expected. Furthermore, many of the recipients will be receiving gifts from other friends, partners, and organizations during these times. So, if you’re looking to make an impact on the individual and differentiate your brand, it will be more difficult during these “crowded moments” in the recipient’s life.
Since I launched Musser & Company in 2014, our work has been given to 2 Presidents of the United States, Fortune 500 CEO’s, all 32 NFL owners at the Super Bowl, Hall-of-Famers and professional athletes.
As a relatively young company, I am often asked by others in a rather incredulous tone, “How do we do it?” As I think about the influencers who have received our work and the doors we’ve opened, there are two key approaches that we have found particularly effective when trying to make an impact on a big-league influencer.
Think about the best gift you’ve ever received. I’m guessing that the gift was probably personalized in some form or fashion or at least it catered to your personal interests, personality, or values. The bottom line is that personalized gifts are the best gifts. Now, you may be thinking, “I don’t have time to personalize my client gifts.” To make it easy, there are two ways to personalize a client gift—an easy way (requires very little effort) and a more difficult way (requires some effort but it will blow your client away).