Corporate Gift Etiquette
Whether you own and/or run a small, medium or large business, at some time, more than likely, you will have to buy business related gifts. If timely and appropriate, the right corporate gift can strengthen relationships with clients/customers and show appreciation for their business, strengthen relationships with suppliers and establish goodwill and create further opportunities for networking. However, ill-advised or ill-timed gifts can have the opposite effect. Therefore, it is important to establish standards and practices when considering the giving of gifts.
Firstly, consider the purpose of the gifts. Corporate gifts are usually considered in relation to a thank you for business referrals, congratulations, “courting” a prospective client or contact, advertising; ensuring long term clients/customers know their business is appreciated and/or for rewarding an employee for a job well done.
It is important to keep the type of gift appropriate in size, price and content for its purpose.
Possibly, more important than the purpose of the gift is who the gift is intended for. So your intentions are not misinterpreted, caution needs to be exercised when purchasing/giving gifts for members of the opposite sex, for international clients/customers/contacts and for individuals who may not be able to accept the gift due to company policy (eg, government officers). Before giving a gift, check out policies, cultures and traditions to determine appropriateness of the giving of the gift, the gift itself and the manner in which to give the gift.
The timing of the gift is also important. It is best to correspond the giving of the gift with the relevant occasion. For example, if the gift is a thank you and appreciation for work provided by a client, ensure it coincides with the completion of a particular activity or the anniversary of the relationship. Further, if the gift is to “court” a new client, have it at the first meeting with the client and not send it two weeks later as an after thought. Remember, to capitalise on the impact of the giving of the gift and not just the gift itself.
Having said this, if an occasion has been genuinely missed, it is better to give the gift late than not at all … just make sure it is seen as a genuine gesture!
When giving gifts, where appropriate and possible, accompany the gift with a hand written card/note. Even if attaching your business card, its nice to add a personal message (for example, “best wishes” or “looking forward to a long and prosperous relationship”).
Finally, how much should be spent on a gift? Unfortunately there is no one answer to this question. The “how much” factor is tied up with the “purpose of the gift” and the “who the gift is for”. Consideration also needs to be given to how much is available to spend in the budget!
If all this is sounding very daunting, talk with a professional corporate gift supplier or consultant for help.