Guest Column - September/October 2012

Business Gift Strategies to Show Thanks

By Dana LaSalvia

Statistics such as these are becoming more and more common as companies everywhere scramble to protect their most valuable assets—their employees. Yet few organizations have sought help to craft a gifting strategy or program that effectively rewards their employees. With the traditional holiday gift giving season just around the corner, get a jump on gifting by working with an incentive provider to customize a plan that will recognize your employees and stand out in their minds by incorporating luxury merchandise and a stellar presentation.

Multiple opportunities exist for corporate gifting, not just the traditional holidays. Your strategy should include gifts for birthdays, service anniversaries, deal closings, top performers, quarterly incentives and project completions, as opportunities to show appreciation for your staff. Focus on luxury, high-quality brand merchandise to make the biggest impact.

Luxury Style Rises

Demand for luxury goods is surging this year, as men desire to be as dapper as Don Draper on television's hit Mad Men while women are putting themselves on wait-lists for the latest designer handbags. A planned film revival of The Great Gatsby, which pays homage to 1920s luxury, is scheduled to hit theaters soon, with expectations of further popularizing the concepts of glamour, quality and opulence.

No matter how big or small your budget, there is a gift for every occasion. Luxury does not have to equal expensive. While going straight to retail can break the bank and put you way over budget, purchasing gifts through a manufacturer's representative provides access to brand-name products at factory-direct pricing. You will also be able to access a variety of additional incentive services, such as custom bundles, reliable fulfillment, individual drop shipping and special packaging. This is a budget-friendly option for companies that do business overseas, where the demand for name brands is even stronger than here in the United States.

What's in a Name?

Just check out today's retail trends to see that the demand for luxury products has grown. Brand-name, aspirational products are driving engagement, because these products are highly desired by employees. Rewarding with products that people want to buy at retail and can now receive as a gift for their hard work is a very effective engagement method. Dan Herman, Ph.D., a leading marketing strategist and leader of the Think Short consulting network stated, "Even not-so-wealthy people now feel deserving of a taste of luxury." For example, no one wants to receive the same boring clock each year. Luxury brands have a built-in visual, emotional and cultural attachment to them. Offering these items in a corporate gifting program will lead to stronger loyalty and engagement.

Gifting Occasions

For many, Thanksgiving is the first holiday break since summer vacation and, with today's hectic lifestyles, most holidays are appreciated by all—young and old alike. So if you would like to show your appreciation to an employee or impress a business associate, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to send that personalized gift. Since gift-giving at Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated among families and friends, giving a gift to an associate can catch them totally off guard and can carry a very strong message of thanks.

Each year, there are always a few notable dates in every person's life, from births to birthdays to anniversaries and retirements. Did a top sales performer land a new account? Then reward your employee with a luxurious Dunhill pen for signing off on the deal. A corporate anniversary is also an important achievement that deserves appreciation. Recognizing these events in the workplace can serve as a great morale booster. Considering the average employee stays with his or her employer less than seven years, according to CFO/Daily News, employers should celebrate this employee milestone.