When you’re an emerging small business owner, getting client attention (or prospective client attention) means competing promotional gift ideaswith bigger businesses with bigger budgets. It’s not just a Christmas gift, it’s about giving them something memorable at trade shows, at first client meetings, or with their purchase from your eCommerce store.

Small Business = Small Budget

You might put aside a decent budget for your customer presents but you’re still marketing on a small business budget compared to mega-competitors! If you’re trying to get your product into retail, and you’re allocating a substantial part of your budget to wowing them, you’re still not competing with the “Private Jet” approach of multinational competitors. At trade shows too, your $5 per head budget won’t compete even if it seems like a big outlay to you!

Important: measuring the success of small business gifts

Like all marketing expenses, you should be measuring the return on your investment.

  • Do you need to set up a unique URL in Google Analytics (or include a QR code) to track how many recipients took action after receiving your gift?
  • Will you offer a call to action with your gift and then monitor how many “deals” are purchased?
  • Will you track social shares and thank-you messages as ROI?

This will influence your choice of gift – for example a very visual gift will get more social shares and word of mouth but a highly practical one will get more one on one brand exposure.   A call to action based gift (tying an offer into it) will generate easy financial monitoring.

If you chose beans for example – the CTA could be “Send or upload a picture of your sprout to receive 20% off your next purchase”. This gives you content, viral advertising and a great way to monitor success.

Your return on investment may just be that the following year, you receive more return business or referrals from those existing customers. Be sure to always ask new clients “how did you hear about us”.

On brand is more important than branded!

Getting a logo printed on most gifts ups the price immeasurably. While it would be wonderful to have your logo all over your customer’s office or home, giving them something that actively engages them in your brand’s core message will be just as effective. So if the pricing choices come down to getting something amazing that SCREAMS what your brand is about, or getting something ordinary and sticking a logo on it, go with the amazing and add a business card to the envelope!

If you can do both (like the beans of course) then WOOT. TOTAL WIN!

Gift giving is not about you!

Even presents for business clients, where the goal is to get them to love you forever, are not about you. It’s all about them. What they need or would like, what would impress them, make them laugh or make them talk about you to their friends. This might mean looking outside what you want and focusing on what they want. Do all your clients have children? Consider something that the child will want to carry around! Do they sit at desks? Do your clients travel a lot? Something huge and cumbersome isn’t going with them!

Similarly, don’t annoy your customer! If you’re sending out a product that needs to be signed for (so large enough to be a package) you may end up forcing a customer to spend precious Saturday time in line at the local post office – for something she didn’t want in the first place! Worse still, if your gift is borderline letter and package size but you post it as letter (the difference in postage costs is ASTOUNDING), it may get reclassified by Australia Post in transit! Your customer may end up having to pay a fee to pick up the package!

Winning without spending

It’s all about left field. Yes, your competitor may be spending $100 a head on those gorgeous, branded pewter wine bottle stoppers but so are 50000 other businesses. Basically, if you can find it at every corporate gift shop, cross it off your list!

The hidden costs of corporate gifts

So you found a cool gift that nobody else is doing and it’s on budget. Hooray. Now think about logistical issues

  • How will I package it
  • Will it need labels made
  • Will I need to spend hours packaging and labelling (or paying someone to do it)
  • Can it be posted on budget
  • Is it shaped so it can fit in a regular sized envelope or will I have to pay extra?
  • Will it survive the transit? If there is a delay, will it go stale or rotten or will it break?
  • Do I need to buy/make/get printed a separate card or note?
  • If I’m doing a bulk mail out, will I have to write on every single card?
  • If it’s for a trade show or market, will I need to provide a bag?
  • Are there any discounts or cost of sale on an included call to action that must be included in budgeting?