You may feel as if holiday time is already so hectic that giving corporate gifts on top of all the other end-of-year business and personal responsibilities is a hassle you don’t need. So you didn’t do it. And that’s ok.
But I’d like to offer a couple other things to consider that may come in handy at some point this year or for the holidays in 2016.
- A business gift may be good business.
- Business gifts don’t have to just come in December. They can come at any time during the year. (as a matter of fact, you may stand out more with a gift at another time during the year)
Corporate gift giving can be an understated, but important part of your business strategy.
Though it’s certainly not the only time of year when businesses give gifts, the weeks surrounding Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s Day are the most popular for giving business-related gifts. Most are given to major clients, though many businesses also give gifts to employees, prospective clients, and long-time customers. It’s a great way to cap off the year and reaffirm how much these relationships mean.
Advantages of Corporate Gift Giving
Your business benefits from prudent, well thought-out gift giving in several ways. Promotional gifts have been used as a form of advertising for generations. Clients and customers remember your company every time they refer to their promotional wall calendar or use the branded pen you gave them.
Giving gifts to employees is good business too, because this is an extra way of telling them that you value the hard work they have put in. Something practical like a golf umbrella or something useful like a canvas laptop case can be a continual reminder that your employees really matter to you. Little morale boosters can make a difference in the overall workplace attitude, and the occasional gift lets your team know you couldn’t do it without them.
Ethics of Corporate Gift Giving
Of course, nothing is ever easy. (as much as we have good intentions) Before giving a gift to clients, you should find out whether the recipient is bound by policies concerning gifts. Gifts aren’t allowed in some industries, like financial services, medicine, and insurance, and in some companies the value of the gift is restricted, and it’s important to learn this ahead of time.
You should never give corporate gifts during any bidding process (even if the bidding process spans major holidays), and it’s important to avoid gifts that could embarrass the recipient. If in doubt, go with something else. Just to be safe. The IRS allows companies to deduct corporate gifts valued up to $75, and many companies use this as a helpful guideline when selecting products to give. Lavish gifts can create the appearance of trying to gain favor, and with regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley, it’s smart to avoid this perception.
Check your recipient’s company gift policy if you’re unsure about giving.
Gift Giving Etiquette
Keep corporate gifts appropriate to the business relationship. You don’t want to give anything too personal, yet you want to give something memorable. Ideally, the gift you give should reflect the personality of the recipient when possible. A blank journal for the dedicated note-taker would be appropriate, and in most cases food gifts are appreciated. You can select from a range of kosher food gifts for your Jewish clients and employees.
Invest in high quality wrapping paper, and add a handwritten (or at least hand-signed) card. Whether you mail gifts or present them in person depends on geography, of course, and on whether you want to avoid causing any feelings of obligation on the recipient’s part (in which case mailing the gift to the recipient’s office is more appropriate).
Corporate Gift Ideas
The possibilities for business gifts are endless, but there are several “go to” gift categories that are almost universally appreciated. For example, gourmet food items are great during the holidays because they can be shared. Wine and top quality cigars can be appropriate gifts for some business relationships as well, but if you’re unsure, it’s better to stick to something more generic.
Items for the office, such as calendars, pens, and desk blotters are useful and appreciated, as are tickets to sporting events, movies, or live entertainment. Gift cards are a “safe” choice, but they’re better when accompanied by another tangible gift (like a tin of gourmet nuts).
Corporate gift giving is fun, but it’s also a reflection of your business.
How about you? Did you get or give any business gifts this holiday season? We’d love to hear about some of your favorites.