The dos and don’ts of client gifting

December 4, 2018
5 minutes read

Sending your clients a holiday gift is always a good idea, but sending them the first thing you find in your warehouse is not. It’s a great time to connect and express gratitude, and taking the time to appreciate them will help you stand out. Follow this list of dos and don’ts and make sure your holiday gifts are standing out for all the right reasons—not the wrong ones

Don’t send gifts they’ll throw away

There’s a reason minimalism came to be. Clutter is bad for your physical and mental health. The last thing you want to give your clients as a gift is something they have no use for that will end up in the trash. Giving someone a present they can’t use loosely translates into “I know nothing about you, but hey, look how nice I am for giving you a gift.” Probably not the message you want to send a client.

Instead of adding to your client’s accumulation of stuff, send them something you know they will need or use. If you don’t know them that well, consider a consumable gift. A gift they can eat (or drink!) also limits the amount of trash that ends up in a landfill. Basically what we’re saying is that a gourmet food basket is not only tasty, but also environmentally friendly. Win-win.

Do personalize

Nothing says thoughtful like personalization. Realistically, you’re not going to know what every client of yours likes and dislikes, but you might have notes from previous meetings or be able to speak to a partner or assistant for some intel. The whole point of sending a gift to your client is to let them know you appreciate them, and to let them know that you thought about them without having to explicitly say so.

Personalization doesn’t mean you have to make them a scrapbook with mementos from every time you met. Something as simple as a handwritten note can go a long way; it tells them that you took time out to thank them specifically for their business, and is sure to make them feel appreciated.

Don’t spend too much

Your client should want to give you their business because of the results you deliver, not because you’re giving them expensive gifts once a year. An expensive gift may also come across as a bribe, especially in B2B relationships. You don’t want your client to resent a gift that makes them feel obligated to continue buying from you.

Also, remember that your clients may know each other, so you should treat them equally when gifting. Sending clients differently valued gifts can backfire if someone on the lower end of the scale finds out.

Do be creative

Coming up with gift ideas can be time-consuming and stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! Have fun with it; this is your time to make a lasting impression and show your clients how creative you are. Instead of sending out calendars like everyone else, think of something outside the box. Spending a little time to come up with an idea will pay off in the end—your clients will be reminded of why they do business with you.

Don’t be cheap

You don’t want to spend too much and make your client feel like they’re being bribed, but you also don’t want to be cheap and make them feel like their business isn’t valuable. As a small business owner, you’re used to trying to save money wherever possible. We get it. But corporate gifting is not where you should pinch your pennies. Consider how you decide where to take a client for dinner; do you choose a restaurant they can comfortably enjoy a nice meal, or do you take them to a fast food burger joint to save a few dollars? Corporate gifting isn’t just about an item, it’s about expressing gratitude. A cheap gift says a lot of things, but ‘thank you for your business’ isn’t one of them.

Do make sure it’s culturally sensitive

We are lucky to live in a part of the world bursting with different cultures, religions and traditions. The art and etiquette of gift giving differs between cultures and religions, so make sure you’re asking yourself these questions before you decide on a client gift:

· What types of gifts might be considered unlucky or inappropriate in some cultures?

· Are there cultural boundaries for women giving gifts to men or vice versa?

· What’s the protocol when giving a gift? Prior to a meeting or after?

Also consider that not everyone celebrates certain holidays, especially Christmas. Be aware of the imagery and symbolism on packaging and gifts, and stay on the safe side by writing “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

Don’t make it promotional

Were you thinking about using swag you usually give away at events or trade shows as a holiday gift for your clients? Well, stop thinking about it—marketing tools and corporate gifting are not interchangeable. Giving a client a cheap t-shirt with your logo on it has the opposite effect of what you’re going for; it comes across as generic and insulting instead of personalized and thoughtful. Reminding them who the gift is from with subtle branding on the card or gift box is okay, but sincerity is best achieved if you leave it out. If your “gift” has your logo on it, you’re asking the customer to provide you with free advertising, which isn’t really the best way to say thanks.

Do express gratitude after the holidays

Timing is just as important as quality when it comes to corporate gifting. A holiday gift is a great way to show you care, but if you want to really stand out, make sure to express gratitude outside of the holidays as well. Sending your customers a token of appreciation during an unexpected time of year will maximize the positive effects of the gesture and truly leave them feeling appreciated. And guess what? That will make you feel good, too!

Without your clients, you’d have no business, and it’s important to remind them that you know this. Express your gratitude the right way this holiday season, and make sure your company stays off the naughty list.

By Vanessa Bruno

The information and tips shared on this blog are meant to be used as learning and personal development tools as you launch, run and grow your business. While a good place to start, these articles should not take the place of personalized advice from professionals. As our lawyers would say: “All content on Wave’s blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice.” Additionally, Wave is the legal copyright holder of all materials on the blog, and others cannot re-use or publish it without our written consent.

Create your truly free Wave account today.

Let's do this