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Use Meaningful Gifts to Create Lasting Business Relationships


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Nothing expresses gratitude for those who make our businesses possible like an unexpected token of appreciation. Here are some occasions and inspiration for gift giving in the business world.

Employee Recognition
Money doesn’t make everyone’s world go ‘round. Employers cannot incentivize all employees the same way. Some people won’t be impressed by a $50 bonus, but pampering products or culinary indulgences show them how highly their work is regarded, and that they deserve to treat themselves. The first step toward showing employees they are valued is knowing what they value. Have employees fill out a “favorite things” list. Once an employer knows employees’ favorite color, dessert, author, sport or beverage, they can provide meaningful rewards and gifts of sincere thanks.

Client Appreciation
In a 2011 survey by Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, Inc., one in three people admitted receiving gifts from business partners made them more likely to do business with that company again. Gifts should be given to thank existing clients, not to persuade potential clients, so beware of giving gifts during the bidding process. And don’t try to pass off company swag as a gift. It’s not a marketing opportunity. Instead, give a memorable gift and include a card with your company logo, or wrap it in your company’s colors. Hand deliver client gifts whenever possible. Keep in mind that small, inexpensive favors can often express thanks just as well as an extravagant gift. Find out what a client’s favorite coffee drink is, and swing by with one next time you’re in the neighborhood.

Referral Rewards
They say the greatest compliment someone can give is a referral. Then why are so many businesses paying for them? People don’t refer friends, family or business associates to companies they don’t believe in, and no amount of cash or gift card is going to persuade someone to refer business to a company they think might make them look bad. Accept referrals for the compliment they are, and instead of paying the source of the referral, give an inspired gift that expresses appreciation for the trust they’ve invested in you.

It pays to plan ahead, budget wisely and shop throughout the year, because when the holidays roll around, it’s time for gifts for everyone—employees, clients, service providers—not to mention our own families. To avoid an awkward rejection, be aware that some service providers, such as mail carriers, have a value limit on gifts they can receive. For client gifts, recommends setting spending guidelines based on how much revenue a client brings your company.

Gift giving in business should always come from a place of genuine gratitude, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some perks. The IRS allows one $25 tax deduction per gift recipient, and while you might spend more, at least some of your gift giving expenses can be written off.

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