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Business Gifts
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

There were about 8 of us.  Gathered in the very corporate board room of one of the UK’s leading cosmetics distributors. We were there for the bi-annual strategy presentation for a premium beauty brand known for its personalised approach to meeting customer’s needs. Marc breezed in (we didn’t know Marc, but he was introduced as their head make-up artist). He spoke to us one-by-one asking us a couple of questions about favourite colours and scents. He breezed out. The meeting continued. Around an hour later we were each presented with our own personalised lipgloss, coloured & scented to our requirements perfectly. We each marvelled at how they were all the same product, yet very different and perfect for each us. I still have this lip gloss, eeking it out because I know it’s value having been created just for me.

So this is a really extreme example, a small but Important gesture and one that stays with me with real clarity nearly 10 years later.  Such is the power of making your customers feel really special.

In my 15 years in retail I was lucky enough to work with some fantastic brands that were all experts at communicating with their end customers and creating brand advocacy through clever, targeted marketing.  However when it came to cementing that same relationship with the key stakeholders in their business the same care and attention was not always there.  There were lovely social dinners throughout the year and a bottle of something or a hamper at Christmas.  This was not to say these weren’t appreciated or enjoyed but I wonder now, knowing the budget that these gestures consumed, whether it could have been spent more wisely?  More memorably?

We ask those around us all the time about the thoughtful business gifts they’ve received over the years. They struggle - er Chocolates, wine?  They can barely remember.  This means the exceptions really stand out.  A cereal brand sent a packet of oats (so far so unpromising) but with an ‘Overnight Oats’ mason jar and recipe book this bought the items together, cemented a narrative on wellbeing and captured the current zeitgeist for instagramable breakfast bowls and superfood.  I heard another story recently of a company which sent sapling bay trees to each of his clients, signifying the growing, long-lasting relationship that both sides wished to nurture -beautiful and useful? Now you’re talking. We are not looking for gimmicks, those high-impact but ultimately disposable items. We’re interested in gifts that not just get you noticed but remembered.

The idea of a gift being personalised is very appealing.  In some cases this might mean embossing the recipients initials onto a beautiful leather journal to make the gift unique to them. More often though this personalisation means the choice of the gift is pertinent to the relationship between the two parties.  I’m often asked about the most unusual items that i’ve been asked to source.  This is really difficult to answer because each solution is so specific to the client.  This week’s product sourcing has included bread-proving baskets, glassware, coffee table books & soft toys.  The only thing that is typical is that where possible we source from the UK and we love a British, independent designer-maker as they will usually share that wish to make a connection .

What do you think?  What’s the best/worst/most memorable gift you’ve received through business either as an employee or customer?

If you enjoyed this article, click here for more of our thoughts on giving the perfect business gift.

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