During the holiday season, many entrepreneurs show their gratitude to business partners by sending greeting cards and giving corporate gifts. These gestures often vary in scale and cost, but one thing I have found consistent in my years of running businesses is the astonishing amount of wastefulness due to completely irrelevant or useless gifts that end up at the bottom of a wastebasket or, worse, in a white elephant gift exchange.
Choosing effective and impactful corporate gifts for your business partners is not as difficult as many believe. Just follow these few tips and get the best bang for your buck.
1. Make it useful.
In my opinion, the best gifts are those that I can and will use throughout the year, such as esthetic desk calendars, comfortable pens and even compact flashlights. For example, I continue to use sticky notes and a fantastic letter opener that I received a few years ago. Skip the cheap office supplies or novelty gifts that will break easily or are just plain gaudy.
Related: The 10 weirdest office holiday gifts
2. Give your business.
Instead of rushing to buy gifts for everyone in your contact list, consider giving your own product or service as a gift. It will cost you far less and end up being great marketing for your business.
3. Make a donation.
If you do not have a product or service that your partners or their employees can use, consider making a charitable donation in their name. This will create good will (and a write off) for your company while providing your business partners with free and effective marketing.
4. Look for exchanges.
Another great option is to inquire with other business owners about exchanging products or services. Again, it is cost effective for your company, and it will result in great gifts for your employees. If you have time and the willingness to do so, consider coordinating with several business owners to create gift "sets" for employees across all of your organizations. Companies that make great exchange partners are restaurants, movie theaters or other entertainment venues in your area.
5. Personalize it.
While some may disagree, I do believe that you should try to include your business name on your corporate gift. I have no problems with a branded gift so long as it is tactful and provides value to my life in the office.
6. Spread the cheer.
If you are giving a gift to a large office, consider something that all employees can benefit from, not just the business owner or senior managers.
7. Do not overdo it.
I advocate that entrepreneurs should approach the idea of giving gifts and sending greeting cards as what it truly is: a marketing strategy. I do not disagree completely with the naysayers who call this self-aggrandizing or counter to the selfless and festive nature of holiday gift giving. Gestures of appreciation should be tactful, simple, thoughtful and sincere or run the risk of being disingenuous and harmful to your brand (just like any marketing campaign).
8. Give a gift, not diabetes.
On a closing thought, we all love cookies and other tasty treats as gifts. The problem comes when we receive countless sugary snack baskets from every business partner we have. Not only is this just a plain unhealthy gesture, it could ultimately affect productivity in the office when everyone falls from their sugar rush. Consider giving healthy alternatives, such as fruit baskets or a subscription for a healthy monthly snack. You will keep your partners healthy and happy and, hopefully, alive a little longer.
No matter what your strategy is this holiday season, giving gifts to your valued partners is a great way to show your appreciation for all of the loyalty and business throughout the year. Make sure you give something useful and memorable, not only to maximize your impact but to also make a lasting impression.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editor.
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