Recently, John Ruhlin told Forbes what the three biggest mistakes in “gift giving” are. Let’s apply these to the use of incentives and rewards in smaller businesses, and find our own solutions for promotional gift giving to maximize the impact of your promotional gifts and incentives.

Professional gift giver, John Ruhlin, earns his living advising sports teams and big corporations on how best to use incentives, rewards and gifts for their businesses.

 

Mistakes in Promotional Gift Giving

Mistake #1: Giving a “Token” Gift

According to John, “token” is a swear word. It trivializes not only the gift, but the relationship between you and your prospects and customers. The entire strategy behind giving incentives is to show value, whether it be value of your product or service, or value of your customer. Don’t reduce the perceived value of your incentive, in which you’ve likely invested a good sum from your marketing budget, with poor choice of words.

 

Mistake #2: Focusing on Gifts Between Thanksgiving And Christmas

John points out that gifts given during the holidays get lost in the flurry of promotional gifts from everyone else. Another point would be that gifts given during this time can be seen as obligatory and not genuine. Consequently, you may not receive the results you would normally expect.

That’s not to say that you should avoid gifts and incentives completely during the holidays. Just don’t choose that moment as your one-time push on connecting with your customers.

 

Mistake #3: Engraving Your Company Name On The Gift

John states, “A gift is recipient-focused; a promotional item is brand-focused. And when you try to blend both of them, most of the time what happens is you’re filling up landfills with items with your logo on it.” This is something you’ve probably experienced yourself. Are those items worn or displayed proudly? Or, are they stashed in a drawer or used as disposable items. Or, possibly more insulting, is the logo scratched off or covered by a sticker?

When you choose incentives and rewards, they should be recipient-focused. Giving items that don’t bear your name tells your prospects and customers that this really is intended for them. When they see that, the effect is much more profound.

 

Solutions for Promotional Gift Giving

Respect Your Gifts

When giving or promoting your gifts and incentives, speak highly of them. Use words that demonstrate that these are items of value, given to customers of value

*When sending emails, be extra cautious of “spam” words. Frequently, words such as “gift,” “token,” “incentive,” etc. will have these items in the spam box or promotions tab and your customers and members will never see them.

 

Make Your Own “Special Occasions”

To get the best reception, give your incentive and reward gifts when other businesses are not. For membership based businesses such as gyms, a good occasion for a relationship building incentive would be a well chosen gift card on the anniversary of their join date. Another milestone to celebrate would be your business’ own anniversary. Gift card fulfillment companies such as Promotion Vault can distribute these type of “landmark” and “occasion” gifts automatically for you. This enables the building of relationships and member loyalty with minimum impact on your bottom line.

Creating a festive atmosphere during the holidays is par for the course. When you set an occasion where you are the only one creating that atmosphere, it is truly festive.

 

Choose a Customer-Focused Gift

Giving something like an Amazon.com gift card allows the customer or member to use their  gift in their own, personally selected way. This not only eliminates the narcissism of a logo blazen item, but also gives you the benefit of brand pairing.