Tis the Season for B2B Gifting

David Leeds

Every year, there is a last-minute scramble as businesses try to figure out a unique holiday gift for clients, partners and employees. And every year, holiday corporate gift giving produces some pretty wacky gifts. According to a recent survey of our Tango Card clients, folks reported receiving a ham, a lamp (“the world’s ugliest”), even a car wash and wax package as holiday gifts. Not exactly the types of gifts high on a customer’s (let alone anyone’s) wish list.

The purpose of giving gifts in business is to develop and maintain relationships, whether it’s between a company and its customers or between a company and its employees. But be careful – done improperly, gift giving can be more of a hassle than a benefit. Don’t settle for an inferior gift. This year, ensure your gift giving is handled in the right way by keeping these three ideas in mind:

Make it personal.Your gifts must be personalized with the recipient’s name and a gift message. One-to-one marketing via gifting is simply smart relationship management. While the term “one-to-one marketing” is still relatively new, the approach is old-school commerce. In the past, for example, general stores would naturally take a one-to-one approach, remembering details about each customer's preferences and using that knowledge to provide better service. Personalizing a gift will reinvest marketing with the personal touch absent from many modern business interactions, foster greater customer loyalty, and increase return on investment.

One size does not fit all.The right B2B holiday gift is one simple thing: relevant and meaningful to the recipient. For example if your client is a vegetarian, a steakhouse gift card wouldn’t be relevant, and in fact will probably cause more harm than good. Gifts should align your company’s and clients’ philosophies. If your company is built on innovation, do not resort to giving fruit cakes or generic gift baskets. This year, holiday budgets are tighter than ever but high-perceived value gifts don’t need to be expensive. Nearly two-thirds of respondents to our recent client survey spend $25 on a holiday gift and 95 percent no more than $50. Also, watch out for unnecessary fees. The gift giving industry is riddled with ridiculous activation fees, costs to personalize and more – and none of these fees actually add value to the gift itself.

Go digital.Who’s got time to wrap presents, lick stamps and stuff envelopes? Not successful sales and marketing teams. Electronic delivery will save you time and money.Plus no one even wants physical delivery any more. Send me a digital good. Put it in my inbox or put it on my mobile device. Shop.org’s annual eHoliday survey found 62 percent of online retailers planned to start online holiday marketing promotions by Halloween, so the season is already underway; now is the best time for businesses to start shopping for holiday gifts to get the best prices and to avoid expedited shipping fees. Speaking of shipping: get the gift delivered on time. A gift that arrives six weeks after the holidays is not relevant.
The holiday season is stressful enough so don’t compound it by making B2B gifting difficult. You can save valuable time while still delivering a holiday gift that clients truly appreciate and value.

David Leeds is the founder and CEO of Tango Card, a Seattle startup that makes gift cards and rewards strategic for enterprise customers. This holiday season, Tango Card, through its Snap (http://snap.tangocard.com) and Salesforce AppExchange apps (http://www.tangocard.com/salesforce), will allow business professionals and companies to save time and digitally deliver gift cards with no fees or expiration dates that recipients can use to get exactly what they want.