When we decide on a price for our products and services we have established our chosen profit margin. As part of that process we figure in the cost of marketing, but this figure does not always include purchasing gifts for our clients. Gifts are often purchased on a whim, or out of guilt or gratitude. Business gifting should be a part of the marketing costs, and the gifts should be viewed as marketing tools.
Once we establish an annual budget or a % of purchase price to be designated for gifting we can begin to plan every year on appropriate gifts for clients that are;
1) marketing tools
3) appropriate in cost
4) part of a branding program.
All of these factors should be considered for each and every gift.
1) Marketing tool: The gift says a lot about your company and your relationship to the client. If it is a gift with advertising then it is considered just that, ….advertising (not a gift). As a marketing tool (not advertising), the gift should reflect your companies values and mission statement.
Example: Car repair shop mission… to provide proper preventitive maintainence and repairs for our customers to keep their car in the best possible working condition at all times. Gift ideas might include a tire pressure gauge in an attractive box, automotive maintainence book for the glove compartment, % off coupons for next scheduled maintanence, or a gift certificate for a car wash.
Realtor mission…to provide help in all aspects of buying or selling a home or commercial property. Book on home repair, free gardening service for 2 months, gift certificate to Home Depot, one night stay in vaction area where client might think of purchasing a vacation home.
2) consistent: Once you have decided to give gifts you MUST make it as much as part of the sale as the signing of the contact. Consistency is critical. If you give a gift once and then never again the value of the gift deminishes with each sale thereafter. It may vary in form from gift baskets, to coupons, to greeting cards, to gift baskets again, but it must be a part of the sale. It is possible to make a habit of gifting annually as well but it’s not good to give the same gift to all clients, especially in niche markets where the clients might know each other.
3) Appropriate in Cost: The gift needs to remain preportional to the value of each customer in terms of returns. ( Don’t forget referrals here. If you have a customer that only purchases $100 annually but has given you 30 referrals that amount to $8,000 in sales, show the customer appropriate appreciation for those referrals.) Of course the cost of the gift should be in direct relationship to the amount of purchase. If your auto shop just sold a $20 oil change to a customer you aren’t going to give them a $5 dollar gift certificate. But your client just purchased a $1,000,000 home from you they probably won’t be impressed with a Home Depot $25 gift certificate. That is why it is so important to figure the cost in as a part of doing business. If you have been going “paycheck to paycheck” and are strapped for cash when you make a sizable sale and all the profits of that sale need to go to pay bills then you will be losing the opportunity to secure that customers loyalty. The cost of gifting needs to be set aside and used promptly to let clients know you appreciate their business. If you wait until the end of the year, they may have moved on to another company and you have lost them as a client. Its too little too late.
4) Branding: Finally, don’t miss the opportunity to brand your company through your gifts. If you sell office copiers, your gift might include a maintance service or monthly paper supplies, or a free toner. When your client thinks copiers make sure he thinks of your company only. Make your clients rave about how you “take care” of them. They will come to depend on you for your service and expertise as well as your products.