Moilanen / Pixabay

Hallmark holidays might make cash registers sing at greeting card companies and florists, but they shouldn’t guide your corporate gift-giving calendar. After all, everyone knows that the most memorable presents come from a natural desire to connect — not an overwhelming feeling of guilt or societal expectations.

Your clients are people, not cogs, widgets, or robots (yet). They deserve gifts that show that you actually spent time thinking about them. Before you make another fast online payment to the unremarkable candy arrangement supplier offering the biggest discount, stop. Take a step back, and think before you buy. If you’re not spending as much time on your gifting considerations as you do on prospecting or hiring, you’re wasting precious resources.

Besides, surprising your prospects and clients with an unexpected gift is an exciting experience. Whether you’re ready to make a corporate announcement, break the ice at a meeting, show your appreciation for a referral, celebrate a deal, or just deepen your connection with a customer, thoughtful, classy client gifting always makes the right kind of waves.

Looking for ways to make sure your gifts don’t land in the circular file or get lost in the black hole of the gatekeeper’s desk? Try some tried-and-true methods to stand out from the gifting pack:

1. Think outside the branded notepad.

Everyone has a logo-laden notepad. And ballpoint pens. And ceramic coffee mugs. And plastic water bottles. In other words, people don’t need more of these boring objects. Even if you can get a million stress balls for dirt cheap, spend a little more and buy something of value that your customers probably don’t have and will actually want. If they’re into a healthy lifestyle, for example, send them a nice box of healthy snacks for the office. If they love sports, send tickets to an upcoming game.

When in doubt, ask yourself whether you can picture the recipient being wowed by what you’re giving; if you can’t, go back to the drawing board.

2. Focus your major gifting during the “off” season.

Quick — who sent you company holiday cards or baskets last December? Not sure off the top of your head? That’s exactly why your corporate gifts should come when they’re the least — not most — expected.

Be the company that gives when no one else is looking. For instance, perhaps you noticed an announcement that one of your best clients or most coveted prospects snagged a special award? Send a congratulatory box of tasty artisan goodies. People have short memories. Stay top of mind by having a gift delivered at the right time, not when you’re “supposed” to.

3. Stop pinching pennies.

You might as well dump your cheap gifts in the trash because that’s where they’ll end up anyway. Most companies spend far too little on gifting while spending far too much on forgettable lunches and dinners. Meals are easily forgotten; first-class gifts aren’t.

If everything in your company is top-notch, your gifts should follow suit. People can sniff out inexpensive trinkets and bargain basement items faster than you can say “outlet store.” Choose merchandise that reflects quality.

4. Make all your gifts personal.

Show your clients that you’ve done your homework by sending them items that reflect their interests, not your desire for some good old self-promotion. You might have to brainstorm a bit to determine the best choices, but that’s part of the enjoyment and process if you’re gifting wisely.

To get started, you might want to take a hint from the UBS leader who handwrites hundreds of notes a year. Plus, he adds a special photo to each one. Think his letters make the recipients feel special and remembered? You bet!

5. Measure results creatively.

How do you measure the return on a present when the very essence of giving is to expect nothing back? The answer is with innovation, not necessarily numbers. It’s tough to quantify the impact of doing something special for someone else, yet it’s not impossible.

After you initiate a corporate gifting regimen, keep track of repeat buying behavior, the percentage of new referrals received, and social comments regarding your company. You might even want to follow up on gifts with gated content to evaluate open or download rates.

Positive karma can’t be seen or touched, but it has its place in corporate life. Look for opportunities to deliver thoughtful presents to the clients and their team members who matter most in your world. Very soon, you’ll begin to see how powerful gifting changes the tenor of your workplace, as well as the quality of the harvest that you reap.

Learn more about differentiating your business through gift-giving by reading my company’s whitepaper, “The Dos and Don’ts of Client Gifting.”