Nov. 24, 2020 | Updated 12:06 PM ET
Most U.S. businesses (62 percent) give gifts to clients and partners, according to a study conducted by Gourmet Gift Baskets*, while nearly half (44 percent) of businesses give gifts to their employees.
Plan Your Strategy Now
With the holidays fast approaching, now is the time to devise a gift-giving strategy for your business. This strategy will address issues like to whom your business will give gifts, what kinds of gifts you will give and your total holiday gift budget. Answering questions like these now will help make the gift-giving process go smoother and more efficiently when the holidays arrive.
Here are five steps to keep in mind as you plan your business gift-giving strategies for this year:
1. Create a master checklist. This is where you’ll store all of your notes about which gifts you gave to whom. You can create your checklist using a pencil and pad or electronically, such as by using customer relationship management (CRM) software. By creating an electronic checklist, you’ll have easy access to your notes that you can refer back to when planning holiday gift giving in the future.
In your notes, be sure to include the name and contact information for each gift recipient; a description of each gift; the date the gift was purchased, sent and delivered; and any other details that might be important.
2. Set a budget. Failing to set a budget for holiday gift-giving could be an expensive mistake because it can be easy to get carried away and spend more than you originally planned on gifts for employees and clients.
Start with an overall holiday gift budget and then break it down to per-client and per-employee costs. Don’t forget to include expenses for shipping, wrapping, stationery, etc. It’s usually alright to spend more on gifts for larger clients than smaller clients, but it’s usually smart to give gifts of approximately equal value to employees since they will probably compare gifts among each other.
3. Try to make gifts personalized if you can. Personalizing gifts to your clients’ and employees’ hobbies, interests and personalities can make them even more meaningful and impactful to recipients. For example, if you know that a client is a golf enthusiast, a dozen Pro V1 golf balls would probably be a very memorable gift.
4. Resist the urge to give branded merchandise. A holiday gift isn’t the right vehicle for promoting your business with branded merchandise. Giving items imprinted with your business name and logo to clients could send a mixed message that contradicts the spirit of giving and goodwill that you want to convey.
However, it might be appropriate to weave your brand into the gift experience in a non-promotional or creative way. For example, you could use a certain kind of wrapping or packaging that reflects your brand or include a logoed greeting card. In fact, it’s usually a good idea to include a handwritten card or note to each recipient along with the gift.
5. Be culturally sensitive. “The holidays” are now a time of the year when many different holidays are celebrated by people from different cultures, faiths and backgrounds. So it may be safer if gifts aren’t tied to any specific holiday, including religious holidays like Christmas and Hannukah, unless you’re sure that the client or employee celebrates this holiday.
Similarly, trying to be humorous with holiday gifts can also be risky. Not everyone has the same sense of humor, and without the proper context, a joke could be misinterpreted and offensive to a client or employee — undoing all the good you accomplished with the gift in the first place.
Bonus tip: Plan with COVID-19 in mind. The pandemic will undoubtedly alter gift-giving for many people and businesses this holiday season. For example, you may need to do most of your gift shopping online rather than in person. Or instead of giving gifts to clients and employees, you might consider making donations in their name to charities that are helping people who have been financially impacted by the pandemic.
Keep This List Handy
Be sure to keep this list handy as you plan your business holiday gift-giving strategies in the coming weeks. And Happy Holidays from all of us at Firstrust Bank!