Author: Benish Shah, Chief Growth Officer at Loop & Tie

In corporate gifting, the gift that is sent is considered a brand vehicle. The assumption is that it is only valid as brand-building if the company’s logo is on it, prominently, for all to see.  What’s often not considered is: (1) will it be used in a way that more than one person sees the logo; (2) will the recipient enjoy this gift with the logo on it; (3) is everyone else sending the same thing?

Gifting is an age-old tradition that is seen as a reflection of the gift-giver. It’s part of relationship building, going above and beyond to show others that they care about them. It is dependent on thoughtfulness and personalization, demonstrating to the recipient that they know them well.

When Technology first became a go-to solution in the gifting space, it was about e-cards—gift cards to Amazon etc., delivered to the inbox. But as with most things at scale, it started to feel less and less personal.

For corporate gifters that wanted to go the extra mile and bring back thoughtfulness, the execution and process of personalized gifting took weeks of planning, with little understanding of whether it mattered or not.

The need for an individualized customer experience that could scale became more evident, as did the need to show how gifting impacted the business units utilizing it for brand and relationship building.

What’s Happening Now

As companies look to understand a new of strengthening relationships with clients and employees, the idea of gifting has taken center stage as a year-round initiative, not a holiday-moment. Here’s how:

  • Direct Mail and Prospecting

Two years ago, DTC brands started going back to snail-mail as an alternative to ads, finding that people were excited to get collateral in the mail. It felt “new” and exciting to customers. Last year, B2B brands started employing direct mail as a tactic to reach new customers. Instead of offering a discount, they needed to add a hook that was interesting enough that prospective customers would engage.

Gifting became part of that strategy. At first, it was small denomination gift cards. Emails saying, “if you book a meeting with us, we’ll give you a $5 Starbucks gift card.” It worked for smaller value clients, but for busy clients, it wasn’t a strong enough hook. It wasn’t differentiated enough – and it showed the recipient exactly what value you ascribed to them: a $5 gift card.

In 2020, brands started using thoughtful gifting to prospect higher-value clients through engagement strategies.  As brands saw engagement rise, they began to see a need for ROI and metrics for gifting as a business strategy.

  • Logistic + Process Solutions

In addition to new business creation, gifting high-value clients as a retention strategy became an increasingly important tool in the last 3-5 years, especially as innovative companies became competitors to established ones.

Read More: Why a Robust B2B Sales Enablement Strategy Matters in 2021

As fruit baskets and bottles of wine weren’t differentiators, gifters turned to customized products. Serving up innovative items and figuring out where to send the gifts every year became a continued logistical nightmare.

Clients in 2019 and increasing 2020 started looking for ways to customize the recipient experience while also streamlining the logistics process.  From gathering addresses (especially in a pandemic year when no one was in offices) to determine what each recipient would receive, the logistics and time spent in the process was a primary cause for concern. One essential part of the solution is that recipients self-select where they want their chosen gift sent.

What’s Coming in 2021

  • Demonstrating Company Values

In addition to marketing and relationship building, corporate gifting is now of the consumer-facing mirrors for company values. When recipients receive a gift, they ask questions around sustainability, impact, and source of the gifts. Two of the most significant social impact points for the clients are: (1) are they support small, minority, and women-owned businesses; and (2) charitable giving.

  • Going Beyond Wining & Dining

As work cultures adjust to a post-pandemic life, clients are thinking about whether wining and dining clients and employees shows the same level of care and relationship building value that it used to have.

Read More: The Shift to E-Commerce Might be Permanent in the Post-Pandemic World

Many clients are in different cities/states than they used to be, and access is limited.  Sending gifts on thoughtful occasion has become increasingly important.  Going beyond holidays, focusing on post-event gifting, birthdays, anniversaries, children’s birthdays, and life moments in general.

  • ROI

As gifting increasingly becomes part of a marketing and CX strategy, the need for attribution and ROI analysis will increase. Instead of sending a gift into the ether and not knowing whether it impacted the business, technology-powered gifting, with companies like Loop & Tie, gives teams insights into how and when gifting is most effective for prospecting, retention, relationship building, and brand awareness.  This trend will continue well into 2023.

As with many things affected by 2020, corporate gifting is reaching back towards its roots of relationship building that positively impacts the business.  The thoughtfulness and generosity of gifting as a concept are seeing a resurgence, balanced with the need for ROI and business growth.