Feature Article - July/August 2012

The Spirit of Giving

Getting Business Gifts Right, From Audience to Budget to Timing

By Tammy York


The thought of budgeting, determining and delivering your company's annual gifts might be as appealing as finding out you need a root canal. But it doesn't have to be this way. With a creative mindset, a deep understanding of who your clients are and pre-planning, you can devise a cost-effective campaign that garners your company goodwill and loyal customers and employees.

Time to Get Creative

There is no point in giving a gift unless it makes a positive impression on the audience. To decide what gift to give, you must first determine the company's goals with the gifts and recipients. Is it a functional gift? Something the recipient will use every day? What kind of impression are you trying to make with the gift?

The absolute worst gift leaves recipients wondering why they got it in the first place. The key to preventing this is understanding your audience. Not everyone wants the same thing, but one thing is certain: They don't want trinkets, tradeshow handouts or junk.

Plus, by understanding your customers' likes and dislikes you can deftly avoid blunders, such as giving a vegan a box of juicy steaks or sending a box of fine Belgian chocolates to someone who has spent the past year spinning off weight.

"You wouldn't give a perfume bottle to a largely male audience," said Terry Loury, national sales manager, Waterford Wedgwood Royal Dalton, USA Special Markets, manufacturer and supplier of crystal, ceramics, metals and cookware for the corporate marketplace for use as gifts, incentive awards and recognition. "You need to know your audience."

Demographics

Of course, demographics should be considered, but don't pigeonhole your clients into being one particular mindset. If your clients are young or young at heart, then they are likely fairly tech-savvy. If Facebook, iTunes, AppStore, Twitter, Yelp, FourSquare and Klout are what they like, then an electronic gift will be appreciated. If they have no idea what these are, then select a more traditional gift, such as something for the home or entertaining.

"There has been a move away from edibles, such as generic fruit baskets and chocolates," said Robert Ludwig, national sales manager for Special Markets at Brookstone. "It is the information age that we are living in. People's lives are fast-paced, and they are looking for things that make their life easier, faster, quicker. We are seeing demand for portable wireless speakers, headphones, iPad accessories, app controlled devices, it isn't limited to the younger demographic."

But don't overlook traditional gifts with a contemporary flare. For the younger demographic, a contemporary and sleeker gift set, such as stemware including fashionable martini glasses, interestingly shaped cocktail glasses or wine glasses makes an impression, is tangible and has trophy value.

"My grandparents still give cash with a card. My parents will send a check. My generation gives plastic gift cards. My son's generation gives e-gift cards," said David Jones, chief executive officer with GiftCardLab a one-stop online store front for gift cards that serves consumers and businesses. Companies can design their own and include their logo. "When a company is trying to make a decision around the kind of gift they are going to give, they should consider their audience. You shouldn't give things that your audience wouldn't use. And understand the medium that they use and match that."