If you are busy ‘making a list, and checking it twice’, you’ll be only too aware that it’s that time of year when all businesses, great and small send their valued clients and contacts a card, a corporate gift, or are maybe even putting on a festive get-together to say a heartfelt thank you for their valued custom and support.

We love this time of year at The Marketing Architect – so much so, we’ve even made our own Advent Calendar this year, packed full of marketing tips for December – you can see it on our LinkedIn page here.

We spend a lot of time in the long run-up to Christmas thinking about the best corporate gifts for our clients, based on their personalities, likes and needs, along with some reflection of our business relationship. But, it’s important to point out that, client gifts are not just for Christmas! There are LOTS of occasions throughout the year when a well-chosen gift would be appropriate, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to be appreciated, and it can do a lot to strengthen your client relationships.

So, here are our thoughts on how to make thoughtful gifting into a strategic part of your regular marketing activity.

1. Think about the events in your customer journey that call for a celebration of some sort: Just won a new client? Maybe send them a thank you for choosing your business. Is it your client’s business anniversary? Send them a corporate gift to celebrate. Has your client won an award? Congratulate them! Been referred by your lovely client to a new customer? Time to show your appreciation. Maybe your client is getting married (one of ours is!) – it calls for a gift. There are so many occasions when a gift or a card would be appropriate that it makes sense for you to decide in advance which events your business is going to celebrate, to prevent your annual marketing budget disappearing in a pile of giftwrap and ribbon! (And this will help with your annual planning too of course.)

2. Set a budget – and stick to it. Just as with all your other marketing activities, you need a realistic budget and it needs to be monitored continuously to ensure you stick to it.

3. Choose corporate gifts that reflect your brand values. The gift you send is as much a reflection of your brand as your product or service itself – so don’t be tempted to scrimp or go ‘off-brand’ with your gifts. If your business is committed to sustainability and environmental responsibility, an e-card may be a better choice than a printed one, while a personal trainer might want to avoid sending champagne and chocolates to their hard working clients!

4. Follow up when you send a gift. Make a point of planning the follow-up conversation when you send the gift. It can be as simple as just a quick email or text to say that you hope they received it safely and are enjoying it. This is particularly useful if the gift you’ve sent was organised through a 3rd party provider or delivery service. Your clients will appreciate the personal touch.

5. Find a good supplier. If you’re going to use a specific corporate gift over a period of time, it makes sense to find a reliable supplier who will represent your business in the right way. Do your research, check the samples, test the goods, and don’t be tempted to order if something isn’t right. We have a few trusted suppliers of business gifts that we’ve used over and over again, so we know the gifts are reliably produced and delivered. But we still keep our eyes open for new ideas all the time – not least because many of our clients will be with us for a number of years, and we want to surprise them with something new each year. Plus keeping it fresh and thinking ahead is also in line with our own brand values.

So there you have it. Our best tips for incorporating business gifting into your ongoing marketing strategy. We’d love to know your thoughts – and if you have any suggestions for really stand-out business gifts please let us know in the comments below.