Why and how your business should give appreciation gifts
Earlier this year I blogged about choosing the right recognition award. This time of year as everyone thinks of holiday gift giving, businesses are scrambling to show appreciation to their loyal customers, employees, and business associates.
Recognition versus Appreciation: What is the difference?
A recognition award is given as an acknowledgement for an achievement, e.g. top performer, dedicated volunteer, or years of service. For recognition awards, it is appropriate for the presenter’s company name or logo to be on the item.
Appreciation gifts are just that: gifts for people you appreciate. It is thoughtful and appropriate to the recipient. In the business world, the difference between a custom personalized gift and a can of honey-roasted nuts - which, while delicious, are somewhat generic - demonstrates your commitment to the relationship.
Business gift recipients – it’s not one-size-fits-all
Customers and clients come in all shapes and sizes. In the retail world, loyalty program members may get a free gift with purchase or special discount codes, and that is appropriate for the type of relationship. Across all industries, though, certain clients often rise to the top as a major part of your business. The same holds true for business associates; partners and vendors you work with regularly as an important part of your business might warrant a more thoughtful gesture than that can of nuts.
How to choose the right gift
So you’ve narrowed your list and have some names. But now what should you get them? Think about conversations you’ve had in meetings, on phone calls, or at business meals: what personal tidbits have you learned? What are their hobbies? Are they season ticket-holders who tailgate every home game? Avid runners or cyclists? Quilters? A bookworm? Do they live in a high-rise apartment, have a yard, or spend 300 days a year on the road? Are they single, married, have kids at home, or an empty-nester? A great gift will fit their life in or outside of the office.
When to give gifts
Contrary to popular belief or even the timing of this blog, the year-end holiday season is not always the best time to send gifts. With the hustle and bustle of parties and obligations with families and friends, it is too easy for gestures to get lost in the shuffle. A thoughtful gift delivered at a different time of year may make a bigger impact, especially if it geared toward a recipient’s seasonal interest: personalized barbeque tools in May or June or sports-themed items for the football fan in September.
How much should you spend on a business gift?
There is a target area between looking too generic and cheap (and probably wasting your money) or spending too much and making the relationship awkward. You are giving a gift, not offering a bribe to do more business. A general rule of thumb is to spend approximately what you’d spend to take the recipient out to a business meal.
When you shouldn’t give gifts!
As always, abide by the rules. Some employers – especially government agencies and elected officials – have strict policies about employees receiving gifts. In that case, a personal, hand-written letter expressing your appreciation for your relationship might be the most meaningful and legal show of gratitude.
A good rule of thumb to remember: if it has your logo prominently displayed on it, it is marketing. If it is customized for the recipient, it is a gift. Thoughtfully chosen, it will make an impression.