Strategic gifting: well-chosen, well-timed gifts stand out

It might seem obvious that the most important people for your business success are your employees and your customers. So what are you doing to show your appreciation?

Gone are the days of giving a gold watch when an employee retires. Giving a gift card can be seen as impersonal and lacking thought. And promotional items are just that – to promote your business – and are not perceived as gifts.

Rewarding employees and thanking customers is different these days. So what do you give in an ever-changing work environment?

Recognition is your No. 1 tool when it comes to building your corporate culture and showing your customers that you appreciate their business. When it comes to recognition within your business, recognize the energy and passion that people bring to their jobs.

Recognition doesn’t need to be expensive. For example, saying “thank you” never goes out of style. Showing genuine gratitude can be as easy as leaving a handwritten Post-it note. Leave it on your employees’ workstations so when they come into work the next day, they’ll start their day off feeling appreciated.

Be sure to be specific, recognizing what they did to help. Custom logoed Post-its, thank-you cards, even classic award ribbons with innovative tag lines and fun quotes that reflect your industry and culture are fun ideas and show a little extra effort on your part.

Gifts to thank your customers should reflect your brand, culture and industry but also should show the importance of that relationship.

Keep logos on your gift cards or packaging. If you want the gift to be used or displayed at home, consider no logo at all. Quality, well-chosen gifts will be displayed and talked about and have a higher perceived value if a company name isn’t splashed across it. Consider using an inspirational quote you and your company are known for. Google has used just its signature G. Apple has used Steve Jobs quotes instead of logos on its promotional items. If you typically recognize your customers in December, start planning early so your budget is spent on the gift, not rush charges or hefty overnight courier fees.

Whatever you do, don’t choose something last-minute. Instead of year-end gifts, consider different times of the year to send client gifts when they’ll stand out. January, spring or even Thanksgiving are times of the year that you can use for themes, and your gift won’t be competing with the busy December holiday gift-giving season.

Strategic gifting allows you to demonstrate your values as a company to your employees and customers. Choose wisely. Be creative and authentic.