Corporate gifts are big business. In 2007 alone, US businesses gave about $6 billion in business and corporate gifts. In 2012, 51% of small businesses reported plans to ship corporate gifts. These types of gifts — usually given out by managers and business owners — are a way of wooing clients and expressing gratitude.
Business and corporate gifts let you put your company name, logo and marketing message in front of potential customers. They can also turn one-time customers into repeat clients. They’re a nice way of saying “thank you” to customers and show you appreciate someone’s business. If you haven’t considered getting gifts for clients, this is the year you should try this great method of communicating with your clients.
Corporate gifts are simply products that you give to your existing customers as a thank-you or at important milestones. Some corporate gifts are more marketing-based and have your company logo or marketing message on them. These are similar to promotional products. In other cases, business gifts are more subtle and do not contain an overt marketing message. They might include a genuine note from you and a reminder from you about business you and your client have worked on together.
Why Give Corporate Gifts?
There are lots of good reasons to give gifts to clients:
1) Client gifts are memorable.
According to the PPAI (Promotional Products Association International), 88% of people who received a promotional product in the past twelve months remembered the company giving them the gift, while only 71% of people remembered advertisers they saw in a newspaper or on TV last week. About 80% of customers polled reported owning a promotional product, and 60% keep promotional products for up to 24 months. 53% of customers use promotional products at least weekly. All of this means that when you give a good corporate gift, your clients keep it and use it, which means your name is always on their minds. The next time they need your company’s products or services, they are more likely to give you a call because your company name is right there.
2) Good gifts have “legs.”
A customer or client may end up sharing their corporate gift with someone else or someone else may end up seeing that gift when your client uses it. Some clients may share information about their gift on social media if they’re really impressed. This could very well start up a conversation about your business, which could mean new leads and new sales for you. Corporate gifts aren’t static — you never know where they’ll end and who’ll end up hearing about them.
3) Good gifts can mean repeat orders.
Studies show 83% of people like getting promotional products or gifts and 48% would like to receive more. Quite simply, corporate and promotional gifts are useful and make your customers feel appreciated. They also give value, since everyone loves to get something for free. When people feel good about your business, in turn, they may be more likely to pick up the phone and call you.
4) Corporate gifts are a good way to give back.
Your clients help you build your business. Giving gifts is a way to show you’ve noticed the contributions these organizations and people have made to your business, and it’s a way to give back some of the energy and money clients have poured into your business. If your business is interested in conscious capitalism or sustainable growth, treating your clients as a valued part of your business is an outstanding place to start!
When to Give Corporate Gifts
There are a few different situations where you can use corporate gifts to make an impression:
- To say “thank you” to a client or customer
- To mark a large milestone for your client or customer (when you close a deal with a client, for example)
- As an expression of appreciation for a larger purchase
- For holidays
- When making a big announcement about your company or taking part in lead-generation
- When employees leave the company or celebrate an anniversary with the company
Sometimes, there doesn’t have to be a reason. “Just because” gifts can be very effective because we all like to be appreciated. You don’t have to hunt around for a good reason to give business gifts. All you need is a list of clients who’ve made a difference to your company.
How to Give Corporate Gifts
Having good corporate gift ideas is not enough. You also have to offer the gifts the right way. To do so, make sure you:
1) Make it appropriate.
There are some things you should never give. Cash always look suspect, for example, and should never be given as a corporate gift. Extravagant gifts, such as cars, can also look questionable, no matter how good your intentions are. Overly personal items, such jewelry or perfume, are never appropriate. Similarly, keep any note you attach to your gift professional and warm without being overly familiar. Take the time to really think about your gift to make sure it matches your company image and can’t be misinterpreted.
2) Make it unique.
Lots of people get pens, clothing or hats. Try to look for gifts to make an impression. Something practical and also attractive and slightly uncommon will hit the right note. If you’re stuck, consider the types of things you might want to receive from businesses you work with. Also, consider the recipient and the types of things they like. Their hobbies and interests can provide good clues for the best gifts.
3) Make it personal.
Personalize the gift or add a hand-written note. If your gift looks as though it was sent out to dozens of other clients, it will seem less special, so be sure to write something personalized about just the recipient. Even something as simple as, “I enjoyed working on the Jones account with you. I appreciated your ideas for the annual report,” shows you remember the client individually and not just as a mass of business associates. Don’t just stop at the note, though. Use the right presentation and timing to make sure the gift giving is memorable.
4) Think about it from the client’s perspective.
Consider the last time you received a corporate gift. Think about the gifts that made you feel appreciated and the gifts you still use. Compare them with any promotional products you tossed away or any gifts that made you cringe. Use your past experiences to come up with the positive gift-giving experience you want your client to have. Put yourself in their shoes and then choose a gift and presentation to get the same sort of response.
5) Make it ethical.
Make sure you follow good business practices when gift giving. Check with HR or legal counsel before you start any gift-giving program. You don’t want to be accused of using gift-giving in unethical ways. Never give corporate gifts (especially large gifts) if you or the recipient is involved in any bidding or if the recipient is considering a move that would mean a promotion for you. For example, if your client is currently accepting bids for a contract from you and other companies, wait until after the client decides to send a thank-you gift. Otherwise, your gesture can be misinterpreted. In general, consider whether an outsider would consider the gift as having an ulterior motive. If it could look that way, wait until a more appropriate time to send your gift.
6) Keep incentives out of the equation.
When giving gifts to clients, embrace a spirit of generosity. Don’t expect something back and don’t tie gift giving to some action. For example, don’t only give gifts if a client agrees to buy a certain amount from you. If you decide on an incentive program, keep it separate from your gift giving.
7) Talk to your accountant.
The IRS will generally let businesses use business gifts under $75 as deductibles. Confirm this with your bookkeeper and keep careful accounts if your gifts qualify you for a tax break. Make sure that any gifts you file on your tax returns are completely ethical. You don’t want the IRS and other authorities asking about your gift-giving practices.
What to Give
People tend to receive a lot of corporate gifts. About seven out of ten customers polled received at least one promotional product in the past year, and 70% of them received at least two. With so many companies promoting with products, you need unique gifts to make you stand out.
There are several popular corporate gift ideas:
1) Tickets. Tickets to concerts, sports events and other special events are a common corporate gift. The thrill of good seats can be terrific. The problem is it can be hard to decide what kinds of events someone might enjoy and what they have time to see. In some cases, expensive tickets can fall into the category of “too extravagant to be appropriate.”
2) Alcohol and cigars. Years ago, these were “classic” business gifts, but today you need to know someone well to give this type of gift. It can be awkward if you give this type of gift and then realize later someone is trying to break an addiction.
3) Office gifts. A safer gift is an office product, such as a pen or desk blotter. The trick with these gifts is to choose a high-quality item reflecting your company’s good name. Cheap, poorly made gifts can be worse than no gifts at all.
4) Food. Food is a popular corporate gift because everyone enjoys eating and can take home food to share with family and friends. The problem comes down to food baskets. They’re quite popular and many clients will receive at least a few a year. If you want to give food as a gift, make sure it’s unique. For example, Giordano’s pizza packs make an ideal and unusual gift. Virtually everyone loves pizza, but it’s unusual enough as a corporate gift to be memorable. If your client lives in Chicago, they’re sure to appreciate the authentic taste that the New York Times and others have called the best pizza in the city. And if your client is from outside of Chicago, they’ll love the chance to try authentic, Chicago-style pizza.
Who Are You Sending a Client Gift To?
The client you want to give a gift to will play a big part in what gift is perfect. A client who loves gadgets is very different than a foodie client. Getting to know your customers and business partners gives you the inside track when it comes to gift-giving and makes it easier to get the perfect gift for each type of client:
- The healthy client. A healthy gift basket, gift cards to a health food shop or cooking lessons focused around organic foods can keep a health-conscious client happy.
- The back-to-nature client. A donation in their name to an environmental organization or hiking gear can make this type of customer smile and remember you fondly.
- The dog lover. Sometimes, a business gift doesn’t even have to be for your client. If your client is a dog-lover, organic dog treats, dog toys, leashes, collars, dog blankets and even dog sweaters are sure to be appreciated. Someone who loves their pet will always appreciate someone who treats their best friend well.
- The trend-setter. Someone who likes the latest gadgets and fashions will adore subscription services to trendy magazines. There are also subscription-based companies that deliver the latest and greatest of anything — whether it’s Reddit trends, razors, beers or anything else — right to your client’s door.
- The Type A personality. Someone who’s always busy and focused on success will appreciate corporate or business seminars or subscriptions to books or podcasts about success. Stylish calendars or even business card holders are other great gifts.
- The foodie. In a sense, everyone’s a foodie since everyone loves to eat. If some of your clients especially love to try new tastes and flavors, food-based gifts or even cooking classes make an ideal surprise. Another great option is Giordano’s pizza packs. Delicious Chicago-style pizza will impress every client from out of town who’s always wanted to try the Windy City’s famous pizzas but has never had the chance. And locals are always excited to have some of the pizza recognized by NBC, CBS Chicago and Chicago Tribune (among others) as the best pizza in town.
If you have clients you need to shop for, don’t let the stress get to you. A thoughtful, appropriate and unique gift is possible. If your clients love to eat, you can always send pizza packs from Giordano’s. Recognized by Home & Garden Magazine, Chicago Magazine and many more as the best pizza in Chicago, Giordano’s pizza is made from an old and authentic Italian recipe from a small town near Torino. A Chicago institution since 1947, Giordano’s is the place where Chicagoans in the know go when they get a pizza craving. Now, your clients can enjoy the same authentic taste the City of the Big Shoulders has been enjoying for generations. We’re happy to ship our pizza packs — packs of delicious, ten-inch Stuffed Pizzas — anywhere your clients are. Choose standard pizzas or our heart-shaped pizzas if you wish.