When you start your first business, your gift-giving opportunities and expectations will be limited. You will likely be fine with sending out cards at the holidays to thank clients and suppliers for your business relationship and wish them a prosperous New Year.
However, as your business grows, the expectation that you show your appreciation in other ways might grow as well. For example, if your business works with international clients, their culture might see gift exchanges as a sign of good faith. Alternatively, if a client gives you hundreds of thousands of dollars in business and is celebrating an anniversary, a gift might be in order.
Here are some tips and tricks for handling gift-giving in your business.
Corporate Gift Ideas
If you’re wondering what is appropriate to send to a client, remember two things: it should be simple and high quality. These corporate gifts could include:
- Chocolates – either handcrafted or one of the premium brands.
- A local novelty – something that shows off your area.
- A gift basket – Hampers With Bite has many different, outside-of-the-box options to which you can add your branding.
- Alcohol – you will have to be careful with this one, and do some recon to find out what would be appropriate.
- High-quality office supplies – a Moleskine planner, an engraved pen, etc.
- Flowers – floral gifts are always a good fallback plan if no other option seems fit.
The gift should cost enough to show that you didn’t cut corners, but not expensive enough that it seems inappropriate and over the top. It is a fine balance that you will have to determine based on your business and your clientele.
Send a Handwritten Note
You may get to the point in your business where your assistant handles the tedious task of procuring gifts for clients. However, they are benefiting your business and deserve a personalized touch. Take a moment to send a personalized note of thanks to your client to accompany the gift. Such gestures are rare in our technologically advanced society and will be appreciated and remembered.
Buy Something Useful
Don’t send a gift just for the sake of sending something. While a wall calendar might be an easy way to mass produce client gifts, and a pen with your business name on them could be good advertising, they’re inappropriate gifts. Wall calendars are rarely used anymore, though people tend to receive two or three a year. If your client is going to a business meeting, they’ll take their own branded pen.
If your budget is limited and you are looking to mass produce gifts, consider what most people would find useful. A portable phone charger, for example.
Know Your Client
If you know your client struggled with alcoholism in the past, forgo sending a nice pinot noir. If your client is from a different culture, do some research to ensure your gift giving practice will not offend them. By building a rapport with your client, you’ll be able to find out what sort of things interest them. If your client constantly raves about a restaurant near his or her office, give them a gift card for that place. If your client constantly complains about stress and a sore back, send them to a spa.
Taking the time to know your client not only prevents any miscommunications but also shows them that you listen and care.
Never Give Cash
Giving cash as a gift is always a huge red flag in business. It either looks like a bribe or just tacky. Clients get confused over if they have to claim it and it can cause a lot of hassle on their end with gift acceptance policies. Some clients may decide to keep it a secret and continue doing business with you (which is unethical for both of you) or be deeply uncomfortable and take their business elsewhere.
Hopefully, your business grows to the point where gift giving becomes the norm. When it does, you know what to do!