It’s time to break the gifting rules you don't realize you follow


Guest post written by Sara Rodell, CEO of Loop & Tie. Stacy was formerly with UBS and gave a lot of corporate gifts when she realized that there has to be a better way than gift cards and gift baskets.  With that, an idea was born and Sara has become an expert on corporate gifting and how to make it meaningful.  Hear Sara's thoughts on gifting in the corporate world!  

Gifting comes with all sorts of social rules that we follow, sometimes without even realizing we do. When we’re trying to figure out what to send, especially to colleagues, clients and employees we have to figure out what’s not weird. 

For example, if an agent sent out yoga mats and incense to every client thanking them for their business, it would be a bit odd. Surely some people would like the gift, but for many it just wouldn’t be relevant. 

In an ideal world, gifting, especially among business relationships, has to be memorable, within budget, easy to order and ship, and special to whoever receives it. Whoa. That’s basically impossible. Unless you have one incredibly homogenous group, finding something unique enough to stand out but also relevant to a large group’s tastes just doesn’t happen. Or maybe you have the time and knowledge to buy something specific for everyone on your list? Congrats, because no one else does!

So, we don’t end up seeing many people mass ordering yoga mats and incense to thank clients. Agents often send food and wine, gift baskets, gift cards, things that are generic enough to send to a large group without social taboo. But even that has its challenges. How do you find a food basket that’s equally appreciated by your clients who are vegan, have nut allergies, are gluten-free, don’t drink, etc. etc. Also impossible. 

What this means is a lot of money gets spent on gifts this time of year, but not a lot of value is created. Clients are getting gifts that aren’t meaningful to them, agents miss an opportunity to rack up goodwill, money spent doesn’t equal perceived value and gifts end up in the trash; we can do better people!

Gifting is a big deal because it plays to a sentiment of reciprocity. This study looked at the effects of reciprocity on business through the use of a gift. The more expensive the business gift, the greater the recipient’s sense of connection and proposed obligation to the company and the greater their urgency to restore equilibrium. Gifting and kind gestures build successful businesses. 

Customer equity is a rich asset, According to NAR, repeat business accounted for a median 21 percent of sales activity in 2012 and for members in the business 16 years or more, repeat business was 40 percent of their activity.  Referrals accounted for an additional 21 percent of all business. Gifting is a wonderful way to build customer equity and goodwill, but it order for the gift to leave an impression it has to be special.

So, if you’re sending the same gift to everyone, or not sending a gift all, you’re missing a huge opportunity! But what can you do? Here are two ideas:

  • If you want to pick out what to send: Segment your recipient list into demographics (hunters, skiiers, foodies, etc) and find a gift that’s representative of that hobby. This takes a lot of time but is much better than sending the same thing to everyone! 
  • If you want to make sure clients get something they want: Use Loop & Tie to let recipients choose the gift they want. You design an online card, personalize it with your own photo/video/logo like this and choose a collection of gift options. Recipients get their card via email and can choose any gift they want from the collection you picked. They never see price, it’s basically like taking them shopping. Since it’s all email based you don’t have to hassle with ordering and shipping gifts, the Loop & Tie service handles all of that stress for you. Loop & Tie is a part of NAR’s REach Class of 2015. 

Since gifting has the potential to generate good returns in the form of customer equity and future purchases, it’s nice to be able to track what’s actually going on with your gift spend. Loop & Tie gives you a dashboard that shows your gift activity over time. You can overlay gifting stats with your own metrics like referrals and see if gifting does in fact impact the likelihood clients will refer new business your way. Another helpful feature is the ability to cancel a gift so your gifting isn’t a sunk cost. You always get value for the gift...versus a gift card that costs you $50 whether it was used by a client or is lost in a drawer somewhere. 

You can run the same return analysis with an offline gift process (like option 1) but it’ll just take a bit more effort to get that stats together. 

No matter what you choose, up your game this year and please save us all from another gift basket!