HOLD – Corporate Gifts: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

HOLD – Corporate Gifts: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

Giving gifts to clients can be a touchy subject in the business world. Ask multiple people’s opinions on the matter and you’re likely to get multiple, different responses. Is gift-giving appropriate when it comes to clients? If so, what type and size of gift, and when? We’ve compiled our top do’s and don’ts for giving to clients so you can gift with confidence.

Do Your Homework 

Some clients might be bound by certain business rules or ethical codes not to accept gifts, or not to accept gifts over a certain dollar amount. This might be the case if your client is a government agency or office, for example. So before you set your heart on a particular present for a client, make sure you learn their rules, if there are any, when it comes to gifting Then abide by those rules. The last thing you want to do is put a good client in a bad spot by making them explain why they have to refuse your gesture.

Don’t Go Overboard

It can be tempting to try to win quick popularity points by spending big on a newly won client or a promising prospect but resist the urge. Obvious overspending can come across as strange, even suspicious. A client, however good for business he or she may be, is not a friend or family member. Remembering that you overheard one mention his upcoming wedding anniversary and shortly thereafter presenting him with a gift certificate for a romantic weekend getaway at a fancy resort may read as, well, creepy. So keep it simple and professional — and ideally solidly under $100. Is your client a bourbon aficionado? Try a monogrammed flask, not a limited-edition Yamazaki.

You don’t want to give too frequently, either. Doing so could also be interpreted as odd, or worse, a set-up for some sort of future bribe or buttering-up. Make sure your just-because gift isn’t followed by third-Wednesday-of-the-month wrapped packages delivered to your client’s offices.  

Do Consider the Recipient

People often buy for others what they’d like for themselves. While this is generally good gifting advice, when it comes to client presents, it’s not the best. Client gifts should be particularly thoughtful and personalized, and should not be opportunities for you to advertise your own likes or hobbies, or chances to market your company or organization. (So branded firm swag is out.)

Make sure the gift you pick reflects your knowledge of the client as a person, not just their status as a customer of your business. Perhaps you’ve admired and complimented a client on her briefcase. An elegant bangle by the same designer and of a similar type to a bracelet you’ve seen her wear would make a perfect present. Bonus: Mentioning when you give it to her that you noticed she liked both the designer and that style of jewelry shows you’re observant and considerate.

Don’t Be Tacky

These days there’s a gift card (and an e-gift card) to just about everywhere and everything. Don’t get your client one of these. They may be easy, and highly desirable in a white-elephant gift trade, but they scream disinterest on the part of the giver. Even a non-coffee-drinker can get behind a preloaded Dunkin’ Donuts card (Munchkins, anyone?) but that’s not the point. You want your clients to associate you with fond thoughts, not fast food.


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