giftIt’s in the air. Feel it? The holiday magic, the endless wish lists, growing paper mounds of Black Friday holiday sales ads, and the escalating anxiety of whether to business gift . . . or not. Who makes the cut when giving business gifts? Is there a clear cut way to decide?

If you have a marketing budget then the answer is ‘Yes!’ Gifts are part of your Advertising & Promotions. Typically 2% to 10% of your sales are allocated to marketing (this may vary business to business). From this figure, determine what percentage will be used towards gifts. And lastly, determine who will get the gifts and how often during the fiscal year. The key is to spend (and plan) wisely, always keeping your business goals in mind and tailoring your marketing where needed. Remember when that budget is gone, it’s gone regardless of whether it’s February, June, or December.

3 benefits of gifting:

  1. Builds stronger and more connected relationships.
  2. Makes you and your business memorable; especially when gifting is in line with the client’s personal interests and goals.
  3. Brings measureable results with solid returns in the way of continued business and referrals.

Purposefully planning and using your marketing budget takes the guesswork out of the ‘who’ and ‘when’ and provides a road map to follow for the year. Don’t use whatever funds may be leftover. Be strategic, but more importantly be sincere. That’s worth repeating – Be sincere.

We like to give (and get) gifts so ask yourself ‘Is this gifting moment beneficial to my business . . . strengthening the client relationship?’ ‘Is this moving me forward towards my future growth goals?’ If you answer, ‘No’ then give a second thought to why you feel the need to send a gift. Be clear in your thinking — business gifts verses personal gifts have very different motivations and end results.

Gifting is NOT:

  1. A bribe for business.
  2. Manipulative.
  3. An obligation.
  4. Done with any strings attached.

All gifts are not created equal. A  rush can come when you find a great store bargain with a chance to buy in bulk but we’re not in grade school anymore. It’s not necessary for everyone to get the same thing dollar for dollar. It’s better to consider these points before slapping that debit card on the counter when the next bargain beckons or the salesperson smiles and shoves another ‘hot’ sale item in your direction.

  1. What is the total annual revenue generated from this client? In this case, size does matter. Clients bringing you a larger revenue stream annually should be appreciated with a gift in proportion.
  2. What’s the relationship with the client? Have you been working together long enough to get to know one another? Do you click?
  3. Is the client loyal to your business? When there is a specific need that matches your services let’s hope your business is a first thought.
  4. Does the client give you referrals? Happy clients are happy to spread the word about their good experiences. Earn those referrals with exceptional service and when gifting remember who sent you some added business.

I give gifts because it makes me feel good and it makes my clients feel good. Handwritten greeting cards with a heartfelt (not mushy) sentiment mailed throughout the year are one of my favorites. Ecards and eGift Cards are also in my top five choices but that doesn’t mean a client won’t come home to find a surprise box has been delivered. When it becomes an obligation it’s time for me to stop. Do you gift . . . or not? Tell me how you like to do things.

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