Holiday Business Gifts: Gift Planning As an Extension of Your Marketing Plan

“Roses are reddish, Violets are bluish, if it weren’t for Christmas, we’d all be Jewish.”

~Benny Hill

This is the time of year businesses recognize their clients, employees and strategic alliances – those people who helped to make their business successful.

Consider your gift project an important part of your marketing plan. Besides recognizing the people who mean so much to your business success, you want to be able to create goodwill, reinforce your image (brand) and be remembered throughout the year. These are the goals of any good marketing plan and can also be applied specifically your gift program.

Last year I wrote about how to set up your gift list. This year let’s talk about the ubiquitous gift cards. They are everywhere, even in the checkout line of the supermarket. Talk about convenience.

A few people have told me they are buying gift cards this year. It made me wonder about how gift cards are perceived when they’re given as well as when they’re received. How does the gift card meet your marketing goals?

Here are my lists: the pros of gift cards, the cons, and some criteria of what makes a business gift special.

THE CASE FOR GIFT CARDS

The gift card is…

  1. The most impersonal present there is. You’re letting them buy whatever they want.
  2. The gift that says, “we’re close enough that we don’t need to make a big deal about gifts.”
  3. A safe gift with unlimited possibilities. We won’t choose an unwanted gift or, worse, a gift that will be “re-gifted.”
  4. An opportunity to give an “experience”, such as a night out to their favorite restaurant.
  5. Appropriate for many situations. No one thinks it’s crass to give a gift card these days; they’re generally accepted. It’s not like you’re handing over cold hard cash, is it?
  6. Pragmatic and very practical.
  7. Convenient. It is so easy for a last-minute gift or when we’re too busy and running out of time.

THE CASE AGAINST GIFT CARDS

The gift card is not…

  1. A token of your relationship.
  2. A recognition of what would make someone happy that makes gift giving special.
  3. Personal. We didn’t take time out of our routine to consider what you would like and what would make your busy life better.
  4. Thoughtful. Giving a gift is more important than a mere transaction. It is an important occasion and we want to show our appreciation. “We just couldn’t spare the time to give an actual gift.” It is sort of a cop-out, a “lazy” gift.
  5. Memorable. There is no relationship invested in it and not so memorable. Will the card even be redeemed?
  6. Not necessarily specific to a client’s interests. “Here is a restaurant gift card. Although we don’t know you well enough, this is a very popular restaurant and some of my clients love it, we think you will love it too.”
  7. Appreciative. A good gift gives something extra along with it, some feeling, emotion, and recognition to show your appreciation.

MARKETING – RECOGNITION GIFTS

7 WAYS TO MAKE A GIFT SPECIAL

  1. The gift is useful or enjoyable.
  2. It is memorable.
  3. It has a high perceived value.
  4. It is a gift you know the person will like.
  5. It may be personalized; it can have their name on it.
  6. It reinforces the company brand, even if your company name or logo is not on the gift itself.
  7. It will be visible, useful or available when the person is most likely going to need or think about what your company offers.