Corporate gift giving is serious business. As part of a well-designed program, giving the right gift can help establish or enhance customer relationships and become a cost-effective means of recognizing or rewarding people and activities that help your business.

Research shows that the majority of business gifts are given to major clients, followed by gifts to employees, then prospective clients. Reasons for gift giving range from thanking loyal customers for their business to recognizing a valued employee for putting in extra hours. The basic reason is the same: to affirm the relationship and enhance the personal connection between giver and recipient. In fact, research conducted by Promotional Products Association International shows that gift recipients are twice as likely to contact the gift giving company.  Which is why for some companies, giving gifts is an essential part of their marketing strategy. And when implemented correctly, gift giving can be a cost-effective way to build a sense of partnership.

The Ethics of Giving

Before giving any gift, you should know if either the giving or receiving company has policies regarding gifts. Ask the potential recipient if his or her company has a policy on receiving gifts, and if they do, be sure to follow that policy.

Additionally, there is an art to effective gift-giving in a corporate setting.

  1.  Ensure that the gift is appropriate for the business relationship. This has less to do with the dollar value of business transacted, or even the length of time you’ve done business together, than it does with the closeness of the relationship. With a new relationship, don’t get too personal or too lavish with the gift.
  2.  Ensure that the gift reflects the personality and interests of the recipient. Finding the perfect gift shows that you care about the person and have taken the time to understand their style and  taste.
  3.  The most popular times for giving, of course, are holidays. But other times of the year can also have an impact on the relationship. Consider giving a gift for work anniversaries, promotions, completion of a large project or other work-related occasions. Whether or not you stick to established holidays and impersonal occasions or get into the personal life of the recipient depends on the nature of the relationship.
  4.  Special care should be taken in the presentation of the gift. Invest in some nice wrapping paper and take the time to compose a personal, handwritten card. This can be as important as the gift itself, since your message to the recipient conveys your intentions and sincerity.

Gifts tell people they are important to your company and you value the relationship. The holidays are a great time to strengthen that relationship with a gift that shows your appreciation.