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TCMPiCorporate Gifts for the Holidays: How Giving Now Gives Back Later


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Giving holiday gifts because “it’s the right thing to do” shouldn’t preclude planning for a healthy ROI.

It happens every year around this time. It starts with the simple question “What are we doing about holiday gifts this year?” That leads to the furrowed brow, the wringing hands, the gnashed teeth and the Scrooge-like question “Why do we have to do anything?” Often that’s followed by the mumbled “It just costs us money.”

Well, yes, and no.

Emotional goodwill leads to greater ROI

Corporate gifts, unlike incentive and awards programs, most often are seen as gestures of good will rather than enticements. However, that does not mean business gifts are without benefits; they are just a bit more difficult to measure.

Emotional goodwill occurs when people see your company in a positive light. This is usually because they feel recognized and appreciated. This feeling often translates into improved service, productivity and loyalty. That in turn can lead to higher profits through increased sales

In fact, the Incentive Research Foundation has published findings that indicate “sales and performance increased as a result of the corporate gift program.”

This stat has nothing to do with the assertion that holiday gifts help corporate image.  This pertains to INTERNAL gifting and employee engagement.  Alternatively, we could define “corporate gifts” at the start of the paragraph to include internal engagement, although it could undermine the goal which is to boost holiday sales.The IRF study goes on to say “When brand awareness, loyalty, sales and performance are boosted by corporate gift programs, people are more likely to engage with your brand.

Enhancing the emotional value of business gifts

The savvy corporate gift program is built on the premise that emotional value outlasts financial value and returns a greater ROI. In fact, some of the best corporate gifts are not expensive at all; they generate value on the basis on emotional impact over a period of time.

Studies show that cash (and cash equivalents) is generally low in emotional value. In fact, employees who receive cash gifts at holiday time are unlikely to even recall how they spent the money, thus further decreasing any emotional longevity.

On the other hand, a nostalgic gift such as food with the same or even lower monetary value is much more likely to stir an emotional attachment to the giver. Food gifts like cookies, turkeys and hams, and fruit are all high in emotional value.

Aside from food, other business gifts high in nostalgia value include personalized items and those associated with the recipient’s tastes, hobbies, family life or profession. When selecting such gifts, just be careful to steer clear of faux pas like giving a golf-themed gift to a tennis player!

One word of caution: any form of self-promotion will automatically reduce the emotional impact of a corporate gift. In fact, it may cause the recipient to devalue your company. Leave the logo treatments and advertising slogans for promotional items you hand out for entirely different reasons than gift giving.

Add it up

When planning your business gift program this year, it’s a good idea to keep this formula in mind:

$ Invested + Emotional Value = $$$ ROI

Remember that investing in corporate gifts is just that, an investment. And while it’s good to give holiday gifts for altruistic reasons, there’s nothing wrong with planning for a return on your investment.

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