Do you have a gift-giving strategy, or do you wait for special occasions?

I’m not talking about a hamper or a bottle of wine, but putting thought into a gift outside of anniversaries, birthdays and Christmas.

I’ve been reading Gift-ology by John Ruhlin, who has built a multimillion-dollar business through giving gifts.

He believes that this form of generosity is a secret weapon as it can boost referrals, client retention and employee loyalty. However, it can backfire as the intention has to be sincere.

I believe that gifts can be a great way of building relationships, and looking back on my career as an employee or in business, I can remember the thoughtful gifts I have received.

I recall leaving a job years ago and was given a bottle of wine as a leaving present, and to this day, I cannot remember the name or how good it was, but if it had been a book, that would have made it memorable.

Can you remember the last gift you received where you could see the time and effort put into it t, and it felt appropriate?

A clever way is to strategically buy gifts for someone’s inner circle – i.e. their family.

I’ve heard of gifts with Mickey at Disneyland for a clients kids, or as mentioned in the book, John bought a set of Cutco knives (which are expensive) for a prospective client’s wife. She raved so much about the knives that he agreed to a meeting.

Here’s the thing, they don’t have to be expensive, but if your gift is well thought out, the person who receives it may treasure it forever.

Alternatively, some gifts would be worth avoiding, like branded pens or journals, as they are predictable and boring and is all about you and not the client. If your logo is on it in marketing parlance, it’s a marketing tool, not a gift.

For several years now, I have given branded journals to clients at Christmas and, in reflection, think it would have been better with their names on it – not mine. I can imagine that receiving a quality journal or a pen set with their name on it would have made a  much more lasting impression.

A sincere gift-giving strategy does not have to break the bank or just for clients you want to develop a relationship with; it can also be for employees and suppliers.

We all like to receive gifts in one way or another but equally are familiar with the thin line between gift-giving and inducement.   With considerable thought, though, you can still find a way to do so within the boundaries.

I like gift-giving as a business generation strategy. If you want to develop deep relationships, be it with staff, suppliers, existing or prospective clients, taking the extra time to show your appreciation and thinking of a well thought out gift can go a long way.