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Corporate Gift Giving: The Most Stressful Time of Year

We’re only a few weeks away from what’s been dubbed the most wonderful time of year. And that means we’re only a few weeks away from one of the most stressful times of the year: corporate gift-giving season. 

In an effort to restore some wonder to corporate gift-giving, we’ve compiled a guide to help navigate through—what can be—a turbulent time of year. 

TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY

Should you? And if yes, why? These are the two most common questions when deciding if you should or should not buy corporate gifts for your clients or co-workers.

Let’s start with the answer first. Should you? In a word, yes. No matter how our society changes and business evolves, it’s still a great idea to show your clients that you appreciate them. As my father likes to say, “you’ve got to take care of those that take care of you.” Good advice.

What about your co-workers? Don’t feel like you have to buy a gift for the whole company, but consider getting a small token for the people you work closest with. Again, this shows your appreciation, but more than that it also spreads goodwill in your office. When you spend eight or more hours per day, five days per week, fifty weeks per year, goodwill is always a good thing.

BUYING A GIFT: WHAT TO GET

What type of gift should you offer your clients? There are a few rules on this, and one in particular I’ve heard many, many times. Don’t take the cheap route.

First, everyone can recognize a cheap gift.  We all know how much that pen with your company logo cost, and it’s barely more than the postage you paid to mail it to your client. However, if you want to spend Q1 trying to replace the customers you lost in Q4 due to your poor choice of a “gift,” by all means, go for the pen—or better yet, the squishy stress ball.

Second—and this one is a biggy—make it personal. This may require you to use a little time and put in a little thought. But then again, these gifts are for the people that keep your business afloat, so what is it to give a little?

Years ago, I had a client who loved two things in particular. He loved to eat at the same restaurant, and he loved a certain sports team. Where did we meet for lunch? You guessed it. What did I attempt to acquire every year? Right again, tickets to a game. He never expected it, and it was not conditional on our business relationship, but it felt good to give a gift that I knew would be appreciated.

I also didn’t give my gift around Christmas time. Why? Because there’s no point in waiting until the last month of the year to let your clients know how happy you are to be doing business with them. They don’t call it the present for nothing!

Now, to the next logical question:

WHERE TO BUY GIFTS

Promotional Gift Websites

When considering your options, your first thought may be to work with whatever companies pop up when you google “corporate gifts.” This includes e-commerce sites like 4imprintand Empire Promos.

The benefit getting gifts through these sites is that they offer gifts at incredibly affordable prices, so you’re likely to find something that suits your budget and your company style.

The downside? These websites sell more predictable corporate gifts like a stress ball, gym bag, clicky-pen, or miniature foam football. There’s not a lot of “wow factor” to these products. Even though the gifts are affordably priced, you’re not making a long term investment with gifts like these, which means you’re not making a long lasting impression on your employees or clients.

Specialty Gift Stores

This option includes websites like Uncommon Goods and The Grommet or even local brick and mortars that offer customization. As far as variety goes, these stores are a step above your standard promotional gift websites. Specialty gift stores feature the sort of gifts your employees and customers will be surprised and delighted to receive. What kind of message does that send? It says that you are a cut above your competitors, that you actually care, and that you took some time to put thought into the gift you gave. Regardless of what market you’re in, differentiating yourself in this way will speak volumes.

Direct from Manufacturer

Buying directly from the manufacturer has all the benefits of purchasing from a specialty gift store, but it cuts out the middleman potentially saving you money. A lot of the time, specialty gift stores “drop ship,” meaning they collect your order, send the order to the manufacturer, and then the manufacturer ships the product directly to you. That is to say, the specialty gift stores typically don’t make, customize, or ship your gifts themselves. Essentially, the specialty store is placing the order on your behalf and taking a cut of the profit along the way.

Because working directly with the manufacturer cuts out the middleman, you will often be offered a better price on your bulk order, and you may even have more options or artistic control when it comes to customization. Take Lever Gear for example:

On third party sites that sell our products, customers are often limited to text-only customizations because these sites aren’t set up to handle file submissions with their orders; however, if you contact us directly, we can collect the necessary file and then etch just about anything on your Toolcard Pros. Plus, when you work directly with us, you also have the ability to customize the Toolcard Pro’s packaging, making the gift even more unique.

Admittedly, some manufacturers are difficult to contact because they’re used to working  B2B relations with third party sites. However, if you have your eye on a particular gift, it’s well worth the effort to check with the manufacturer and see if you have hidden options! Typically, manufacturers will be happy to work directly with you, securing you a great product at an even better price.

IN THE END, IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU

We hate to say it, but it’s just not about you—and gift giving never should be. Regardless of which direction you take, keep the recipient in mind. With a little thought and effort, you can get your employees and your clients something they’ll treasure. And there’s no better way to end the year than by letting the people you work with so often know you appreciate them.