Monday, December 1, 2008

The Gift of Gifting

‘Tis the season to be giving, whether it’s Christmas or Hanukkah. Talking business gifting here, not charitable donations. Though the latter is something that, thankfully, remains a stalwart of our corporate as well as civic culture, I sometimes wonder if some of us haven’t forsaken the tradition of thanking our clients for their business, with a tangible token of our appreciation.

Welcome to this year’s last installment of Not Your Usual marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

According to Rosanne J. Thomas, Certified Etiquette and Protocol Consultant, “a business gift is a powerful tool, and one not to be overlooked. Study after study shows that a thoughtfully selected and presented gift of high quality and taste can indeed help cement relationships with customers and employees alike.”

I don’t have empirical evidence of this, but I sense that many of my counterparts in the service industry think business gifting is somehow no longer appropriate. Not cool. Of another era, not of these times. Kind of like the three martini lunch. More like something out of TV’s homage to the Madison Avenue era of the ‘60s, “Mad Men.”

Call me old-fashioned – but I’ve always liked the idea. Maybe it’s my Dad’s influence when occasionally he took me as a child on his rounds throughout New York City thanking his own marketing clients. I think it makes a defining statement about yourself and your character. Sort of like a strong handshake. Here’s author Alex Palmer’s take, whose article “A Giving Spirit” is in this past November’s issue of Incentive magazine:

“A study released by the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) at the end of September found that 80 percent of the sales and marketing executives who responded classify themselves as gift givers. The study reflected that relationship building was the most commonly cited reason for givers, with 70 percent giving ‘to thank customers,’ and 66 percent giving ‘to build goodwill.’

…(according to Steve Slagle, president and CEO of PPAI)…’It’s not about price. There are certainly products in this industry that have higher perceived value than others, but often if it’s a thoughtful gift – whether it’s $5 or $10 – it will have impact for the individual.’”

Palmer goes on to quote another expert in the industry who further takes a “green” approach: “’Gifts that are better for the environment (i.e. biodegradable or recyclable items) say a positive thing about the giver.’”

I’ve got a lucky 13 on my list of clients who I especially wish to thank for their “contributions” to my bottom line this past year; I’ve also got my annual New Year’s “chochke” that many of you will be receiving in the next few weeks.

Who will you be thanking this holiday season?

Happy Holidays and see you again the first Tuesday in the New Year for Volume 7(!), Opus 1, of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.

Joel Kweskin