Buying Gifts for Clients
Buying a unique clients gift can be easy or difficult. The Internet offers an almost infinite variety of sites for gift shopping for business relationships or personal relationships.
Personalized or not?
An important consideration is whether or not the clients gift will be personalized. Engraving a company name and client name on the gift can be a good way to really connect with the client and let them know that you didn't just stop by the mall and pick out something on the way to the party. Having something engraved and personalized shows that you went out of your way to do something nice. You took the time to think about what the clients gift should be and how it should be personalized. Lead time is also involved. In other words you can't simply wait until the last minute to grab a gift at the mall and expect if to be properly engraved. You have to plan ahead and put your order in well before the time you plan to give the gift. Your client will know that you took the time to plan ahead; it shows that you were thinking about them and your relationship with them.
Functional vs Ornamental
Consider a functional clients gift versus an ornamental gift. Functional gifts include water bottles on the less expensive end of the scale all the way up to elaborate gift items such as knives or even certificates to stay at resort hotels. The less expensive gifts can be emblazoned with the clients name or even more specific information such as the date of a special event or a milestone in the business relationship. For example, you might consider something such as "Burts Bird Houses - 1 millionth house sold", which would bring back warm feelings whenever the client reads it in the future. This type of message can be a huge building block in the vendor-client relationship.
An ornamental gift will certainly last longer than a functional gift, but not as many people will see it. The water bottle will get passed around, taken to events, and read by clients and potential clients alike. A typical ornamental gift will get stored in a cabinet or placed on a shelf. Hopefully the ornamental clients gift ends up in a prominent place, but you can never be sure of that. You might spend a significant amount on an elaborately engraved crystal mug, but have it end up in a kitchen cabinet with all the generic coffee mugs. Perhaps an appropriate clients gift is an engraved crystal mug and a matching hand-made china cabinet in which to display it.
Think about the Relationship
Whether you choose functional or ornamental, be sure to put serious thought into what you are trying to say about your relationship with your client. An expensive clients gift implies that you desire a long term relationship and you anticipate receiving more business from them in the future. Actually, you expect financially substantial business from them in the future. Recently I visited a client who had just received a cake and a large assortment of helium balloons from his long distance telephone service provider. He looked at the thoughtful clients gift and said to me "That tells me I'm paying too much for phone service." He made a good point. The provider obviously expected to make a lot of money from his account. They might have been better off sending him only a small cake or perhaps a personalized water bottle.
days we all have liability concerns. If you elect to give out a
potentially dangerous gift, be careful. A pocket knife is a welcome
clients gift for most men. It can be engraved or not. However, if the
knife ends up accidentally cutting offa finger, you may be held liable. Even
the knife was used for a completely unintended purpose, such as a
hammer, you may still find yourself (and your company) as part of the
lawsuit. it's almost sad to say, but this is the type of society we
live in these days.You may be completely innocent, but you will
nevertheless be required to defend yourself against the suit. The
clients gift may end up costing you much more than you ever imagined.