How to Choose the Right Corporate Gift

When you hear the term “corporate gift,” the first thing that may come to your mind is the plethora of promotional products that your local paper supplier mailed you (pens, mousepads, jump drives, etc.) or maybe the gift basket you received when you became an employee at your current company (coffee mug, T-Shirt, gift card, etc.). Although many of us love promotional products, these gifts are often forgettable and sometimes find themselves buried in office trash cans.

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. 

So how do you take advantage of this largely untapped opportunity? Well, we’ve broken it down to five easy steps to help you get the highest organizational ROI when it comes to choosing the right corporate gift.

Step #1: Determine the Objective

Instead of immediately Googleing “cool corporate gift ideas” or searching for a local gift basket maker, you should determine what your objective is in giving the gift. Are you looking to steward a relationship with a client? Do you want to engage and retain your top employees? Are you looking to thank a donor in a one-of-a-kind way? Whatever your objective is, your gift should help you accomplish just that.

“Like anything else, it’s important to begin with the end in mind when it comes to corporate gifts.”

For example, let’s say I’m looking to steward my relationships with a set of clients. One way to ensure this happens is to give them something that they will use often. This will help you stay top-of-mind since they’ll think of you when they use the gift. So, determine the objective or result you want to achieve, and then works backwards. Like anything else, it’s important to “begin with the end in mind.”

Step #2: Research the Recipients

Have you ever received a gift that made you wonder—why did they get me this? In many instances people do not take the time to consider a gift recipient’s background, interests, or even personality. Research about consumer gift giving confirms this, and this is especially true when it comes to corporate gifts.

For Large Groups

If you’re recipient pool is large and broad, then you’ll have to consider what do all of them have in common? Do they all live in a certain geographical area? Do they have similar types of jobs (accountants, programmers, etc.)? Do they have a similar standard of living? What is the average age of the recipients? For example, if you’re giving a gift to members of an exclusive private country club then your gift should be different than if you were looking for a gift to recognize junior salesmen at a SaaS company.

For Small Groups

If you’re recipient pool is much smaller, then you should take some time to consider the individuals recipients. This is especially true if these people are vital to the success of your organization (e.g., clients, employees, donors). One way to easily do this is to find out what they all have in common (like the large recipient pool), and then find a way to personalize each gift. In most cases it will be too inconvenient and expensive to buy each of your clients something different. So, if you could find something that they would all like that has the option to be personalized, then you have a good gift. This is exactly why our signature Message Boxes (handcrafted engraved wooden boxes that house a hand-written letter and other items) have been such a hit for recognizing an organization’s top employees, clients or donors. Each gift is unique to the individual and organization whether the person’s name is engraved on the gift, if the letter says something personal, or even if the box contents are unique to the recipient.

So, before you buy another fruit basket or tickets to the game, make sure you research the recipient’s interests, background, and tastes first.

Step #3: Ask the Right Questions 

Asking good questions is a skill that is often overlooked, but the power of a good question is invaluable. So, when selecting a corporate gift for a certain occasion, make sure you ask these questions.

Will it be useful?

In most cases nobody likes a gift they won’t use. Furthermore, if your employee or client never uses the gift you give them, then they most likely won’t remember that you gave it to them in the first place. Gifts that aren’t used often find themselves shoved away in closets until Spring cleaning time comes when they’re trashed or re-gifted. So, when possible, try to get a gift that will be used and used often.

Will it be memorable?

Modern marketing guru Seth Godin said that today only the unique are remembered. This is especially true when it comes sending an employee gift, client gift, or a gift with someone you’d like to do business with. Ideally you want to select an item that is memorable in itself—something that they wouldn’t run across at the mall or find anywhere else. If this option is not available, then you’ll have to get creative to make a more “normal” item memorable. When you run into a client at a conference, they probably won’t remember the jump drive with your company’s logo that you sent them. On the other hand, if you get creative enough, I’m sure you could find a way to make those items memorable. What if you sent a jump drive that contained fun instructions on how to claim a free meal at a nice local restaurant? Now they’ve engaged with your brand in a way they will probably not forget.

Will it be visible?

If you send a gift to someone how often will they see it? If your gift ends up stowed away in someone’s bottom drawer, then you or the recipient will likely not get much value out of it. So, think about selecting a gift that will be visible and remember that higher quality gifts are usually more likely to be shown off by the recipients. 

Step #4: Consider the Gift's Non-Tangible Aspects

The non-tangible aspects of a gift can either make or break it. Will the gift be given on or before the recipient’s milestone? Will it be delivered in front of his or her peers? Who will hand the gift over to the recipients? All of these aspects should be considered. Much like marketing’s “5 P’s” (product, price, placement, etc.). Each of these non-tangible gift aspects can be adjusted (an often do not cost anything) to make the gift even more meaningful and special.

Step #5: Execute & Follow Up

“To put it simply—gifts create conversations.”

As the saying goes, “the money is in the follow up.” This is especially true if you’re giving a gift to a client, donor, or potential client. Giving a gift to someone usually creates an opportunity to follow up with them and ask them about it. To put it simply--gifts create conversations.

These follow up conversations can help you connect with someone in a special way that your competitors may not be taking advantage of. So, make sure you take advantage of the follow up conversation with the recipient.

It’s All About Relationships

Well that’s it! I know this may seem like a lot, but it could get you on the fast track to strengthening relationships with your organization’s most valuable partners and constituents. In the digital age today, relationships are more important than ever, which is just another reason why we should choose the right corporate gift for whatever occasion on the horizon.