4 Ways to Grow Your Business with Gifting
Gifting is one of humanity's oldest traditions and plays a psychological role in our relationships. In our personal lives, we know that offering gifts at certain life moments can cheer someone up, make them feel appreciated, and generally communicates, through effort, your commitment to a relationship.
We also know that socks is not a favorite, or particularly personal, gift to receive. So why, in the business world, are we giving colleagues fruit baskets and branded pens? They are the socks of business gifting!
Research shows the vast majority of executives feel that gifts can help to improve business relationships and deliver measurable ROI. But if the approach is sloppy, it won’t win you that new contract—a fruit basket doesn’t scream “effort,” and isn’t personalized.
Known as “strategic gifting,” businesses that send highly personalized and modern gifts at key moments in the customer journey see a far better outcome—particularly with small and midsize businesses, whose customer relationship are crucial. In fact, there are four instances where we’ve seen strategic gifting have its biggest effect:
1. Nurturing Leads
Gifts aren’t just for saying “please be my customer,” they’re also for saying thanks. Salespeople rely heavily on their network and should reward those who referred them with potential leads. Sales teams can also gift strategically to increase impression before a meeting and after.
For a competitive potential client, you can send a gift to get your foot in the door. It doesn’t need to be ostentatious, but it does need to be something they’d actually appreciate.
Finally, getting important people to sign up for promotional events can be a difficult task. Sending a gift tailored to their tastes can sway them to attend.
Despite the popular belief that sending personalized gifts will hike up the CAC (customer acquisition cost), it is possible to gift something a bit more thoughtful and unique while staying within your budget. If you know your prospect likes coffee, send them a nice box with artisanal coffee beans and a mug or chocolate to enjoy, on you. Make sure to add a handwritten note with a personalized message letting them know you value the relationship and hope to continue the conversation.
From competitive bids to laying groundwork for future opportunities, it’s difficult to stand out in a crowd. Sending a follow-up gift from a sales meeting—or even to re-engage prospects to move along a stalled deal—can be the nudge a relationship needs (and potentially shorten the sales cycle).
Another unexpected way to make this work is for post-event follow-ups. For example, thanking new connections you made at an event can help refresh their memories; we see many faces during industry events, and a creative business card isn’t enough to leave a lasting impression.
If you are following up with a valuable contact, try to create that “How did you know?” moment by surprising them with an unexpected gift choice. If they’re into wine, it might be too soon to send them a bottle, but consider sending a chocolate-wine pairing set.
Welcome gifts are an easy way to get started on the right foot, particularly if contract negotiations were tense. This is where personalization is really important—showing new clients that their business is appreciated, in a way that is unique to them, can go a long way toward earning their loyalty.
Onboarding gifts typically include some branded items like a brochure or swag, but try to use the knowledge you gather through the sales process to add something you know they will be excited about. Are they a yoga or fitness junkie? You can include some yoga gear or healthy snacks you think they’d like.
4. Adoption and Loyalty
On the other side of account acquisition, don’t forget to maintain ties with your existing customers.
Experiential marketing used to be a concept we only associated with events or point-of-sale interaction, but now it’s all about creating memorable customer experiences that build on personal connections to your company and inspire long-term brand loyalty.
Sending gifts to clients as a thank you for speaking at an event, or providing a public-facing testimonial, is a pleasant way to return their efforts. If something goes wrong with a treasured client, send an apology gift to get the relationship back on track
For VIP customers, gifting doesn’t need to be limited to the holidays; birthdays, and other life events like a new addition to the family, are effective in strengthening the personal connection in a professional relationship. When a business is top of mind with its customers, renewal rates come naturally with less effort on the company’s part.
At this stage you’d really want to use everything you know about your client to get them a highly personalized gift, so there is no need to send them more swag unless they ask for it. If your client appreciates a good cocktail or an expensive bottle of champagne, you can make it more fun by adding wine glasses or a cocktail shaker to go along with it.
In general, make sure occasions for strategic gifting throughout the customer life cycle match your business goals. For example, if you’re vying for the attention of an attractive prospect, sending a personalized gift will make your brand instantly stand out and help you get that meeting. When it comes to your top existing customers, sending personalized gifts helps them feel appreciated and connected to your brand; one small business we work with used strategic gifting to recognize their top customer as VIPs.
Some businesses see strategic gifting as a real challenge because it’s expensive, and knowing where to start can be daunting. But the rise in demand for gifting services has led to several different services, from using AI to select a personalized gift based on social profiles, to automated gifting occasions (“gift this client every year on their sign-up anniversary”). It’s now easier than ever to send personalized gifts at scale, while sticking to a strict budget.
Marketing and sales technology has come a long way; there’s a reason why Salesforce has the biggest building in San Francisco. But as professionals whose careers will always depend on the human aspect of successfully working together, strategic gifting is a great way to bring balance to your marketing toolbox.
Blanka Supe is cofounder of Prazely, an AI-driven personalized gift giving platform for B2B companies.