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Corporate Gifts

Property Professional - Nov/Dec edition
By Lisa Witepski

The festive season means different things to different people, but almost everyone looks forward to opening a pressie or two come the year’s end. Your colleagues and clients are no different, so here’s how to choose a gift that will impress.

“A festive season gift is the ideal way to show employees and clients that you value them,” opines Charene van der Westhuizen of Gifts Inc. “That said, the wrong gift can cause offense, while splurging on an inappropriately expensive present may make the receiver feel uncomfortable.”

Kim Vermaak of Belle Regalo agrees – and she maintains that one of the biggest mistakes you can make in this regard is to confuse promotional gifts with year-end presents. “The end of the year is not the time to go cheap and nasty,” she says emphatically. “The fridge magnet with emergency contact numbers you usually give buyers is an excellent branding tool, but that’s precisely what it is: a promotional item designed to create brand awareness. The year-end gift, on the other hand, acknowledges a client’s loyalty.”

With that in mind, some items are an instant no-no: come the year end, says Van der Wetshuizen, most people are looking forward to leaving their desks behind, so a desk-top item, although a practical choice at any other time of the year, will come a far-off second to a present that can be used during the upcoming holiday season. Think fun and family, Vermaak and Van der Wetshuizen advise: car emergency kits that will come in handy during a road trip emergency; braai sets (Vermaak recommends the Cobb, a South African award winning domed mini braai that weighs only 4kg), beach mats and travel luggage. Leisure activities like games are also well received: backgammon and travel chess are good ideas, says Van der Westhuizen. For women, homeware is always popular (the Dianna Carmichael range is another suggestion from Vermaak) – perfect for summer entertaining. Fashion items like pashminas are also a big hit. Finally, think travel – Vermaak reveals that travel books are in huge demand, the most popular proving to be 1001 Places to see before you die.

Whichever gift you choose, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the festive season is synonymous with Christmas. It’s special to people of all religions, but sending a devoutly Jewish client a box of Christmas decorations may be just as offensive as sending a Muslim client a bottle of whisky or wine glasses.

For this reason, it’s wise to conduct a little research around your clients and employees first. “One of my clients sends out an annual questionnaire to top clients, asking for suggestions - a kind of corporate ‘Santa wish list’,” Vermaak says. “Before making your purchase, ask yourself if this is a gift you would like to receive, and ask around to see if others share your view. And, to really stand out, find out what other members of your industry are giving as gifts – and do something completely different.”

As for how much to spend – Vermaak advises that you look at a client’s spending patterns to calculate their value. Spend too little, and they’ll think you’re cheap; too much, and you’ll seem desperate at best, bribing at worst. The largest portion of your gifting budget should be reserved for repeat clients.

When it comes to employees, van der Westhuizen believes it’s best to give the same present to everyone in the company – something that people at all levels of the company will enjoy.

“This can be difficult, as few companies have homogenous workforces,” she allows. “That’s why it’s best to plan your gifts well in advance – you’ll have more choice. What’s more, many suppliers run out of stock the closer it comes to the Festive Season.”

Quality is another factor to consider. If possible, says Van der Wetshuizen, examine a sample before ordering.

Once you’ve decided on what’s going to fill your clients’ stockings, think about ways of presenting it. This can make all the difference: use thick, quality paper that won’t tear, and use organza and satin ribbons to add a splash (Van der Wetshuizen believes that your company logo on the ribbon adds just the right amount of subtle branding) – and don’t forget a well-worded greeting card. If you have time, says Vermaak, try to hand deliver the gifts – if not, then at least try to drop off presents to your top five clients in person. “If you’re using a courier, insure the presents, as a lot of gifts go missing,” she notes.

Finally, make sure your gift reaches the client by no later than 10 December – most schools break up by the fifth of the month, and families make a beeline to their holiday destination.