Giving Christmas gifts to customers or clients or employees this Christmas?
Here are 5 tips to making this investment all the more effective.
If you are choosing to give some kind of gift during the Christmas Season you are likely making a relatively large investment – in the cost of the gift, in the time it takes to choose and order the gifts and the time and cost of delivering the gifts.
Ever wonder if its worth the effort? Read our argument for gift-giving in our Blog “I Gift Therefore I Am – Four Reasons Why it Really is Worth It”.
Companies tend to give gifts to internal partners (employees) and/or external partners (customers, clients, suppliers, etc.). And both are fraught with potential risks: the risk that the gift will offend rather than delight; the risk that the gift will be considered a bribe rather than a token of appreciation; the risk that the recipient will not see the value in the gift and toss it off as unimportant, etc.
Here are five tips to make your investment in the gifts even more worthwhile and to lower the risk that your gift will offend.
1. Choose a gift that reinforces the reputation you want for your company
Example: For many years, my husband and I received a gift basket at Christmas from a supplier. It was exactly the same basket each year (I mean identical) – tons of stuff but the maker had obviously gone for quantity not quality. And I am pretty convinced that the gift giver really had no clue what he was sending – he just picked up the phone each year and said “send the usual”. I couldn’t help myself – the thought ran through my head that that’s all we were worth to him – a phone call and cheap chocolate. The gift almost did more harm than good.
Example: One year we received from a supplier a most unusual gift (unusual in that I had never received such a gift before!) – it was a splendidly wrapped cardboard box with a decorative cake knife and cake lifter inside. The handles were colourfully beaded and the utensils themselves stainless steel. The gift said to me that someone had given much thought to this gift, had enjoyed picking it out and was probably enjoying giving it.
2. Choose a Gift that has special meaning to you or to your company
If you have more than a handful of customers, clients and/or employees you will likely be choosing one or two gifts to give to all of them (rather than choosing something different for each one of them). So if you’re not able to give a gift that is specific to the recipient give a gift that is specific and unique to you or your business.
Example: We have a customer who is originally from Europe. She is an orthodontist and gives gifts every Christmas to all of her referring dentists. Her heritage is very special to her and she chooses to share it as a gift. She chooses several price points of Lebkuchen Schmidt Chests and Tins and gives them according to the relationship she has with each customer.
Example: Another of our customers who is also originally from Europe gives Lebkuchen boxes to his employees as a way of sharing some of his own story with them. He always chooses the Large Festive Box that has a good array of pastries and he uses each pastry to share a memory.
3. Share that special meaning with the recipient – Tell the Story
Everyone loves a good story and it doesn’t take a lot to tell one. Give some moments of thought to why you’re giving the type of gift you’ve chosen and print out your story on a card that is slipped in with the gift.
Example: Another of our customers gives the Lebkuchen Schmidt Festive Chest to his suppliers each year. He shares with them his story of growing up in Nuremberg (the city where the pastries are made) and the memories from his childhood of the wonderful smells in the air coming from the Lebkuchen bakeries during the Holidays and of seeing his family serve the pastries to family and friends when they would come for a visit or give them as a Host gift at parties. He explains to his suppliers that the chest of cookies is a cherished memory from his past that he wants to share with them – almost sharing a bit of himself.
Example: One year one of my husband’s business partners gave us a wooden chest filled with two bottles of wine. Wine is a pretty common gift and could be considered too common but this wine was premium quality and the box was beautiful. But it was the hand-written card that came with the gift that was special and the explanation that these were two of the partner’s favorite wines and he hoped we would enjoy them as much as he and his wife did.
4. Present the gift in person if possible and if not possible give a lot of thought to how the gift will be delivered
Being a rather informal culture here in Canada we tend to not make a huge deal of how something is wrapped (or unwrapped) when we give a gift in person. You can hand someone a bottle of wine with a ribbon around it but it’s the smile on your face that makes the biggest impression – not the ribbon. But when your gift is being delivered by someone else more thought is required – and a little more thought about the packaging can really pay off.
Example: Back when I was managing a manufacturing company we would have gifts delivered almost daily during the Holiday Season mostly by couriers or sometimes the salesperson would drop off the gift. Most of these gifts were handed to the receptionist who piled them up on the counter behind him without fanfare. But from time to time a gift would be delivered that was either well addressed to a specific individual or department, or so well wrapped or so interesting that the receptionist would walk it back into the bullpen and everyone would ooh and aah over it and ask who sent it.
5. Make sure your customer (or client or employee) knows why they are receiving the gift
This sounds obvious but it’s not. So many gifts that we received as a company came with a note that said “Season’s Greetings” or “Merry Christmas”. But gifts are given for more reasons than just because it’s Christmas – especially business gifts. This is one of only a few formal opportunities you get as a company to deliberately thank your customer/client/employee for the relationship you’ve had with them in the past year and to genuinely wish them well.
After you’ve told them the story about how and why you chose the gift that you are giving them, take the time to tell them why they are receiving it. Here are a few lines I came across:
“At this time of year, it is a joy to pause and Thank the many people who have made our success possible” (employee)
“At the Holiday Season, our thoughts turn gratefully to those who made our progress possible” (non-profit to doners)
“In warm appreciation of our association, we extend our best wishes for a Happy Holiday Season and a New Year filled with peace and joy” (client or customer)
Corporate gifts to customers, clients and employees are powerful tools to appreciate the business relationship you’ve enjoyed and to build goodwill for the continuation of that relationship in the future. As we all know, it is way less expensive to keep a customer/employee than it is to find and develop a new one. A special gift during the Holidays with a special story, message and delivery is a wise investment.
Owner @ Gingerbread World