Drop the term ‘corporate gifts’ and people automatically think of Christmas gifting. Which is great – what a wonderful time to send and receive gifts, and to demonstrate value in relationships.
But Christmas is just one day out of 365.
How do you demonstrate that same value across the other 364 days?
Some industries do gift year-round, mainly because their business model means they’re gifting on closure/transaction – think mortgage brokers, real estate agents, car dealerships etc. But here’s the thing, regular gifting isn’t restricted just to the industries who have an transational trigger point. Finding opportunities to demonstrate value in relationships is universal and applies all year round.
Why We Gift
When we peel back the ribbon on corporate gifts and get down to the why we send them the aim is pretty simple – to delight your recipient. To delight someone probably isn’t a word you’re using often in terms of your stakeholders, but when you delight someone you engage them, you make them feel valued and you grow the connection/relationship.
Gifts are Client Engagement Tools
Perhaps we need to think of corporate gifts differently.
When we stop thinking of them as yet another thing we need to do before the end of the year wraps up, and instead embrace them as a client/stakeholder engagement tool – you immediately have a lot of potential to grow the relationship, be front and center of mind and put yourself ahead of your (Christmas gifting) competitors.
1. The Element of Surprise
Never underestimate the element of surprise in making someone feel special and connected.
Imagine you arrive at work on a dreary May morning, and on your desk, you find a beautifully packaged parcel.
You’re surprised – this is unexpected, it’s not your birthday, not a special event, just a normal May morning. You open the package with a keen sense of curiosity as to who has sent it and why. Inside you find a unique gift and a hand-written note from one of your referral partners who just wants to say thank you, and how much they enjoy working with you.
I don’t know about you, but this would have me smiling all day, and raving for weeks about this unexpected but welcome gift. It also means I’m likely to pick up the phone to say thanks, which will probably lead to a lunch catch-up; and next time I have a referral, they’ve just increased their chances considerably it’s going come their way.
Want to test this out? Give a surprise gift in your personal life, whether it's to you partner, your Mum or your favourite barrista; and watch their delight and the magic that happens after. (And we're happy to bet if you surprise gift to your favourite barrista, you will have a lifetime of being one of their favourite clients, with all the preferential treatment that comes with this.)
2. Be Front & Centre of Mind
Because we all know the battle in business is to have a great relationship with your clients/referral partners so that you’re front and centre of mind – and let’s face it, once gift sent amongst many at Christmas is not going to cut it.
Let’s say your business growth relies on referrals; although the same applies to engaging existing clients or whatever your growth model is. Whether you’re a financial advisor who relies on referrals from accountants, or a physiotherapist who relies on referrals from a GP, the problem with referral partners is a good practitioner will always have a lot of really good people in your profession to refer to.
Therefore, to truly benefit from the relationship you need to actively find opportunities to be front and centre of mind, hence why Christmas gifting alone doesn’t cut it.
A phone call to just check in, a surprise gift or an invitation to event are all engagement tools that will ensure you’re front and centre of mind as soon as someone has business to send your way. Of course, the benefit of gifting over say just a phone call is you add the element of surprise, thoughtfulness and personal connection to the relationship.
3. Position Yourself Ahead of your Competitors
When you’re investing in your relationships and sending gifts, or utilising other stakeholder engagement, throughout the entire year you’re not only putting yourself front and centre of mind, but you are also positioning yourself well ahead of the curve.
Whilst by no means a scientific measurement, when it comes to gifts, from our experience we’d say 85% of businesses rely on Christmas gifting alone. And even then, the feedback we get is the majority of that is generic and uninspired – in short, most businesses aren’t doing much to put themselves ahead of their competitors, who are largely doing the same.
Don’t get us wrong Christmas gifting is great, (generic gifting not so much) – but why be nothing more than just one of many gifts at the busiest time of year? Particularly when you can send a boutique, memorable gift to stand out throughout the year.
We can guarantee a surprise gift on that dreary May morning will make more impact than most Christmas gifts and will have you ahead of your competitors. Why not put yourself out there throughout the year, just to say thank you, to acknowledge the value of a relationship, to exploit the delight that comes from surprise? Because the vast majority of your competitors aren’t even considering this in terms of their stakeholder engagement strategy, and therefore it’s an easy, cost effective way to get ahead of your competitors.
Want to chat more about how you can delight your clients and stakeholders throughout the year? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.