Personalization means different things to different people. To a customer on your email list, a birthday email with a customized salutation might be plenty. But to impress someone special — a high-value client, a partner, or an employee who went above and beyond this year — a fruit basket stamped with your company’s logo isn’t enough.
To be clear, gifts are great ways to show your appreciation. But nobody wants to feel like just a number when they get a gift, and surface-level personalization can actually reinforce that feeling.
So how can you make sure your personalized gifts pay off? Here’s how to do it:
1. Prioritize relevance.
The most important type of personalization associated with any gift? Its fit with the recipient’s needs and interests.
Take your cue from John Ruhlin, who is a genius in the casino marketing industry. The most common complementary rewards, or “comps” are free food, drinks, and hotel rooms. However, Ruhlin takes it to a new level of personalizing gifts for important customers so that they never forget that the casino values their business. Having a Giftology mindset of being more thoughtful to do things that others are not can differentiate your brand in the industry.
Consider common needs: If you’re a massage parlor, you know that your customers come to you for rest and relaxation. Scented candles or plush pillows might make good gifts. If you’re a car dealer looking to say “thanks” to new car buyers, you might throw in a tank of gas or a set of all-weather floor mats.
2. Get the timing right.
The timing of a gift matters just as much and perhaps even more than the gift itself. Giving gifts not just at the holidays, but also in moments of need can let your efforts shine.
Think of a time when the client could use a pick-me-up, and be the one to supply it. If you want to reward your accountant, why not get her something special around tax time? Come March and April, she’ll surely appreciate a massage gift card or ergonomic desk chair.
Remember, though, that the perfect moment can’t always be planned on a calendar. After you sign a new client or receive an investor introduction are great opportunities to build a better relationship via a gift. For moments like that, keep some ideas in your back pocket that could work for a wide variety of working professionals.
3. Attach a handwritten card.
Especially in the digital age, a card can go a long way. Among U.S. adults, 81 percent see a handwritten note as more thoughtful than an email or next, with Millennials leading the trend at 87 percent.
You don’t need to be the next Shakespeare to pull this off. Stick to 2-3 sentences, and keep it simple: Why are you thankful for the gift’s recipient? Be genuine, and don’t worry about things like grammar and punctuation.
4. When in doubt, ask.
To some people, asking what they want as a gift is seen as lazy or low brow. But to others, it’s a sign that the giver cares enough about their needs to get them the right gift.
Research implies that most people in the corporate world fall into the second camp. A recent Business Gift Satisfaction Survey suggests that 69% of corporate gift-givers would like help giving personalized gifts.
If you don’t know where to start, just ask: On a call or at an after-work meal, ask about headaches in the person’s life. Keep an ear open for something that could be solved by a gift in the $50-$200 range. Anything less might come across as cheap, while more expensive gifts may embarrass the recipient.
Gift personalization is about thoughtful messaging, timing, and selection more than it is cheesy additions like logos. It takes a personal touch to build relationships that can lead to loyalty, new business, and referrals. Choose well, and see just how far a little generosity can go.