Business Relationship Strategies: 4 Tips for B2B Gift-Giving

Get ready: the days of lights, junk food, family time, and presents have officially arrived. For small business owners, the holidays provide opportunity to show your clients and colleagues that you care.

Time for some thoughtfully planned B2B gift-giving that builds business relationships.

Before you scramble to purchase last-minute gifts for your clients, we’ve got some holiday business strategies that help you pick the most relevant and memorable gifts.

First, let’s identify the goal for B2B gift-giving.

Your goal is to nurture, develop, and maintain business relationships, and show that you care about their lives, goals, and successes.

In other words, a fruitcake simply won’t do the job. Neither will a mass-email that delivers a one-size-fits-all eBook without any personalization.

To help you show your appreciation, generate new leads, and nurture your business relationships, follow these B2B gift-giving strategies. 

Personalize your gifts.

While not everyone will jump at the sight of a monogram coffee mug, people do appreciate a personalized message to go with gifts. In today’s marketing world, mass communication is so common that a truly personal message stands out.

Start with the basics: add the recipient’s name. Afterward, follow up with a detailed message that highlights your relationship. Try mentioning specific occurrences from the past year, but always make certain the message is relevant to both of you.

Here’s an example:

Dear Jack,

So happy to hear about your 25% increase in client referrals this year. Listening to your presentation at the summit last month truly inspired me to kick my own business into a higher gear in 2014. Hope you get some good use out of this electric tea pot. Brew some Earl Grey at your desk, and keep up the awesome work.

In a personalized message such as this one, you show a client or colleague that you admire them, and are invested in their success. In addition, you also showcase that you’ve paid attention to them, even if it’s a simple detail.

So how does your business benefit from personalization? One-to-one interaction makes you stand out with a personal touch that’s often missing from business interactions. Especially with client gift-giving, personalization reminds them of your core mission as a small business.

 Make your gift memorable.

 What’s not available in today’s marketplace? How many candles do you have to buy before people sense gift-giving repetition and laziness?

The perfect B2B holiday gift is well thought-out and intuitive. When gifting a client, think back to previous business-related conversations. Even if your interaction took place during sales calls, think of the casual portions of the conversation.

Did the client mention s/he was headed to a concert that weekend?

Give them a biography on that artist.

Did the client tell you s/he ran late because s/he just got back from running?

Get them a subscription to a runner’s magazine, or an iTunes gift card to download new running-specific tracks.

Did you meet the client at a specific event?

Purchase a book related to a topic covered during the conference.

It’s small details like these that allow you to pick a memorable gift. Feel free to explain why you choose this particular gift in a personalized message such as this one:

Dear Shelly, 

Happy holidays. Such a great talk over list segmentation during Infusioncon this year. With that in mind, I’m sending a book about the best ways to communicate with specific demographics. I got a lot out of it, and I think you will too. 

Here’s to a great 2014 for your business.

One size does not fit all.

Translation: don’t go buy a truckload of candles, and send them to each client and colleague. (Nothing against candles. We all love aroma therapy.)

For a truly memorable and personalized gift, find something that is relevant and meaningful.

In other words, if someone told you s/he hates fish, don’t get them a sushi-making kit. But don’t give them something you give everyone, either.

When in doubt, make sure gifts are helpful. Plus, it doesn’t hurt if the gift you choose aligns with the recipient’s goals, vision, and philosophies.

Imagine shopping for a telecom services provider. How on earth do you pick out that present?

It’s pretty simple: go to the about page on their website.

Take a look at his or her background, where they started in business, and how it evolved from there. Once you find the most relevant gift, it doesn’t hurt to explain your reasoning behind the choice with a message such as this one:

Hi Frank,

 Great working with you this year–so much so, I wanted to show my appreciation. After learning that you started your career in music education, and made the leap to telecom services, I became very interested in your journey. That said, I hope you have a lot of fun with this History of Sound CD/Book package. I think you’ll get a lot out of it.

 A gift like that shows you put real time and effort into the selection–and even if the gift misses the mark, the gesture itself will be fondly remembered.

It’s about them, not about you.

When you purchase a gift for a colleague or client, think of it as if you were giving something to a friend.

Even if the goal is to create repeat business in the New Year, don’t purchase a gift with that sole purpose in mind. Our advice: start early, take your time with the selection, and deliver a memorable, personalized gift that makes the recipient feel all warm and fuzzy.  


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