Giving corporate gifts and cards is routine. Messages in most cards are stock. Their sign-offs are squiggles. What do they really mean? Organisations buy gifts in bulk. (Corporate hospitality’s the same. I’ll deal with corporate hospitality later in the year.) Are they only worth their material cost to their recipients?
Friends and family naturally mark each others’ occasions. Gifts and cards show we care. They show we’ve thought of one another.
It’s true that many organisations send gifts and cards to secretly gain favour. That’s the last thing they want to appear! It can even be unlawful. Real giving isn’t for reciprocity or influence.
Getting giving right, though, is a sign of a close relationship. There are two great ways to give corporate gifts and cards right.
1. Unique to you
A gift or card that only you can send feels special to its recipient. The best way to make a card unique is to write it yourself! That’ll take some time if you’re sending hundreds. (That’s why it feels special to get one.) You’re sharing something about you: your time and thoughts. It’s easier if you know the recipients well. (There’s a tip!)
It’s even harder to think of an appropriate gift. Producers of consumer goods or services often raid their own shelves. (That’s a bit like a staff discount. Staff discounts are benefits, not gifts.)
Remember what you’re aiming for, though: closer relationships. Give something that you like. If that sounds illogical, remember that you’re sharing something about you. I loved receiving tea and a tea strainer from my tea-loving supplier. I might not drink much tea. But I think of the giver every time I strain!
2. Personalised for them
It feels nice to receive gifts and cards meant just for you. Select Appointments got it right as my staffing supplier when I ran the US Embassy’s visa information lines. They sent my team and me a hamper full of American goodies on July 4. We felt like an important client.
They also sent ‘Thank You’ cards. One was for changing our accounts process to suit them.
But, I remember looking for a new marketing agency at Reed. That December each agency sent us a huge box of Hotel Chocolat treats. How hip! How delicious! We liked the gifts. But they lacked thought.
And it’s the thought that counts.
The best gifts and cards are unique to you, or personal to them. And, of course, they’re small and given openly.
Please feel free to lavish me with luxury corporate gifts. They won’t win you my business, though. And it could be unlawful if they’re too valuable.
The extra benefit of getting it right is that you’ll feel less shy about attaching your contact details and even your logo.