Gifting in the corporate arena is treacherous: here’s how to get it right.
Have you ever received an unexpected, but perfect gift? It grants a certain intellectual grace and charm to the giver. In contrast, poorly executed gifting can drain even the most generous intentions into the depths of ill-conception and social ineptness. When it comes to business, it’s not the thought that counts, it’s when and what you give.
“Should we send them a gift?”
Let’s start off by addressing the little secret everyone tries to ignore: corporate gifting is a business transaction. Whether the gift is to a client or employee, it’s an attempt to gain favor in hopes of promoting future exchanges. However, an appropriately timed gift can transcend those obvious motives, bringing the gesture into the realm of sincere gratitude for both parties.
Gifting inappropriately can inadvertently blare out hidden intentions or just make you look foolish. Here are 6 common gift-worthy events in business relations:
1. When you’re a benefactor. Whether it is a new sales contract, a business referral, or customer loyalty, gifting can help establish a tone of respect and appreciation.
2. In recognition.Sometimes it’s not about what a client or partnering business has done for you, but how they’ve contributed to the community. For example, if a product manufacturer announced a commitment to zero waste, farming partners might consider sending a gift recognizing those efforts. This gesture expresses respect and lets them know you’re paying attention and keeps your company on their minds
3. When they’ve gone above and beyond. Maybe a company you contracted has put in a month of 70-hour work weeks to meet your deadline. Or, your chef-client took the time to talk to your daughter about what to look for in a culinary school. A “thank you” is nice, but probably too simple to represent the value of their efforts properly.
4. In celebration. The best business relationships are symbiotic, take, for instance, a vendor reaching their sales goals for your product. Why not sweeten your shared-success with a custom, handmade gift? In addition, sending a birthday cake is a warm-fuzzy way of showing your appreciation for their presence in your life.
5. When introducing yourself. A thoughtful gift can take the chill out of cold-calling. Rare is a human heart too hardened to accept your call after sending them a delightful treat!
6. Direct advertising. In this case, the veil is entirely decamped. Let’s say you want to announce a new product or service or bring attention to an event your company is involved in. You could email them or send a card that they may or may not see. A gift, on the other hand, tends to stand out, and linger in the air, as word of the gesture passes from tongue to tongue, prompting questions of “who?” and, most importantly, “why?”
Business gifting ideas
Recognizing the proper moment to give a gift could be considered the “easy part.” Giving the right gift is tricky. Before exploring some suggestions, it’s important to evaluate what type of gift to give.
In some cases, determining what to give is going to be based on your relationship with the recipient. In others, it can be industry based – expensive gifts may be considered unethical and therefore returned. If you’re unclear, whenever possible, inquire with the recipient’s management.
Aside from industry-specific ethics, there are also a few gifting no-nos to steer clear of:
- Don’t mark your territory. Putting your logo or company name on a gift magically transforms the object into a promotion, rather than a gift.
- Be mindful of holidays. Christmas is the most obvious example of this. It’s not a matter of being politically correct, or even offending someone – assuming cultural alignments reflects an unflattering lack of mindfulness and knowledge about your client.
- Giving money is an insulting cop-out. While getting money from your aunt on your birthday is always a loving gesture, it’s nowhere near appropriate in business. For one, you don’t want to suggest they need your money. Secondly, it lacks a personal touch that says you care about the business relationship, and that’s the last impression you want to create with your gift.
Now that we’ve covered some general “no-nos,” here’s a list of “yeah-yeahs!”:
- Confections.A cake or basket of cookies is sure to catch the eye – and appetite – of everyone who walks by. Corporate cakes can be decorated in fine detail to put an artistic touch to your gift. Or, for an ongoing sign of your appreciation, you might consider sending a membership to a cake of the month club.
- Tablets.If an expensive gift is appropriate, the latest iPad is sure to inspire plenty of smiles.
- A massage. A voucher to a reputable spa for a massage is an excellent way of showing your appreciation.
How to make it special
A quality gift makes a personal connection with the recipient – even in business. At We Take the Cake, gifts are our business. From our famous key-lime Bundt cake to our eye-catching cupcakes and layer cakes, a custom cake from our bakery is sure to be well received.