Embracing the giving spirit should extend beyond yourself and your staff to your clients. Gift giving can be a tricky subject, as different companies have their own rules about what their staff can and can’t accept. You need to be informed before you start spending money on gifts for clients. The worst that could happen is that, in your enthusiasm, the gift backfires – it will be remembered for years to come.
Don’t think you have to give your client gifts. This feeling of obligation will come across in your delivery and in the gift itself. Remember, it’s about celebration and sincere gift giving.
Check corporate policy
Many companies have opted for a ‘no gift policy’ throughout the year, and during holiday periods in particular. This is usually done to avoid any backlash, for example being seen as favouring one company over another because of the extravagant gifts they may give or have been given. This means that even small gifts are no longer allowed. Make an effort to find out. Call the company to check – contact either your client directly or the Human Resources department. If they are not sure, find someone who is.
Gift giving may require a little organisation because some of your clients may accept all gifts, some may accept gifts up to a certain value, and others might not be able to accept any gifts at all, not even a Christmas lunch. Unfortunately this may dampen the festive spirit, particularly if you were hoping to celebrate the successful results you achieved together this year. Remember, you can always still send a card.
Avoid personal gifts
Where you know it is acceptable to give clients gifts, there are a few things you may wish to avoid. Personal gifts must be left aside. If you have become close friends with a client and you want to give a personal gift, you must do this separately and as a friend. This is not part of your company’s gift.
Company promotional gifts
It might seem like a good idea to stick your logo all over a gift. Think again – especially if the branded item is something cheap like a coffee cup. That’s simply a promotional tactic better off left for during the year.
Be wary of religious gifts
Any semblance of religion in gift giving is to be avoided. You cannot assume every person’s religious beliefs are the same as yours. It’s best to stay well clear of this to avoid causing any offence.
If you’re going to the trouble to send clients gifts this year, then make sure you bother to ensure that they are quality gifts. Low quality items that break within days, or serve no benefit at all, show that you really haven’t bothered. These kinds of gifts reflect poorly on your company and will be remembered by your clients for years! You are better off sending nothing at all than gifting low quality items.
Be careful with humour
While it can seem funny to you, it’s important to remember that everyone has a different sense of humour. You may know your direct client and his or her sense of humour, however other people in the client’s office are also likely to see the gift you send. You don’t know theirs. Go to great lengths to avoid sending any Christmas gifts that could offend anyone. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
A little innovative thinking can set your gift apart from the rest. Make it useful, practical, and long lasting. You don’t have to go overboard with how much you spend. A smaller gift of high quality means more than a large gift that seems a waste of money.
Remember, giving gifts to clients is about celebrating the year you had together and setting up positive relations for the year ahead. Giving from the heart means more than anything.