The most successful companies in the world have a well-thought gift strategy in place and business gift-giving should never be underestimated as a powerful business tool. Gift giving can be effective way of enhancing your corporate image, showing you value your clients and customers as well as showing appreciation to the people in your employ.

Corporate client gifts

Corporate gifts are immensely useful when it comes to publicising your corporate image. They can be an effective marketing tool and help develop long-term relationships with your clients, but they must be well chosen and timely. Ideally, corporate gifts should reflect your company's vision and image and show appreciation for your customers. The effectiveness of corporate gifts has been statistically proven, as surveys show that firms that engage in corporate gift-giving are 50 per cent more likely of being contacted again than those who don't.

Corporate gifts can be classified into three categories: give-aways (often low in economic value), standard gifts, and luxury gifts. As a business owner, you will need to decide which of these better suites your purpose with each specific client.

It is important to choose gifts that are appropriate and match your businesses core values. For example, while giving ash trays as gifts may have been considered standard practice, today this may not be appropriate. Practical and personalised gifts create a good impression. You should also research cultural issues when planning a gift for international companies, as in some cultures alcohol or certain food items are not appropriate. Some general ideas include:

Promotional gifts

Often, small companies or start-ups are not able to afford conventional advertising methods, like television or press adverts. This is where promotional gifts come into place, as they can be used to create or enhance brand awareness and to advertise a new service or product. Some useful suggestions include:

Regardless of which gift you choose, it is important to ensure that promotional gifts are practical and of good quality, as this says a lot about your company. Also, promotional gifts should be creative and unique, as memorable promotional gifts can make your company stand out among others with similar prices or services and get your firm ahead of the competition. For example, you may want to consider sustainable gifts, like stationery made of recycled materials or customised self-powered electronic items.

Gifts for staff

Staff gifts are a great way of showing appreciation for your staff's loyalty and hard work. Carefully planned and personalised staff gifts are a tangible way of expressing recognition, and one gesture can say more than a thousand words.

Staff gifts can be used in employee incentive programmes or at special occasions, like birthdays, the birth of a new family member, or work anniversaries. However, you must keep in mind a few guidelines. First of all, staff members should receive gifts of the same value. Also, research has shown that men and women favour different types of gifts. Female staff often prefer to receive gifts like flowers, specialty food items, travel vouchers, and cash, whereas male staff prefer electronics, computer and car accessories, and restaurant vouchers.

Other popular staff gifts include cosmetics baskets, gift certificates, digital picture frames, personalised stress toys, wine bottles, additional time off work, restaurant gift vouchers, gourmet cooking lessons, and tickets to a football match or a concert.

And remember: presentation matters to clients and staff alike. Always wrap your business gifts professionally and include a personalised card or note.