Miss Manners Guide to B2B Holiday Gift Giving

B2B gift giving tipsWe have a confession to make. We love Miss Manners.

Without her, we wouldn’t know how to politely decline that cousin-we-never-met’s wedding.

Or how to properly cut a steak. Or how to not act like Neanderthals.

We think Miss Manners would be appalled by the lack of proper business to business holiday gift-giving etiquette that has sadly become the norm.

But there is one thing Miss Manners wouldn’t do. And that’s leave you without tips on how to raise the standard.

Because we’ve learned from the best (thank you, Miss Manners!), we are gifting you with 4 tips for B2B gift-giving that will help build better business relationships this holiday season.

1. Personalize your gifts.

While not everyone will jump at the sight of a monogramed 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 high 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 your client or colleague that you admire him, and are invested in his success. In addition, you also showcase that you’ve paid attention to him, even if it’s a simple detail.

2. Make your gift memorable.

What’s not available in today’s marketplace? How many soap baskets 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 tell you she ran late because she just got back from running? Get her 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 chose this particular gift in a personalized message such as this one:

Dear Shelly,  Happy holidays! Such a great talk over list segmentation during ICON 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 2015 for your business!

3. One size does not fit all.

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

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

In other words, if someone told you she’s allergic to nuts, don’t get her an assorted-nuts jar. And don’t give her 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 his website.

Take a look at his background, where he 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 enjoy it.

4. 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.  

Stay tuned for our next blog on Sumer’s top 5 B2B holiday gifts. Oh, and Miss Manners would say it’s proper etiquette to share things you love…so if you found the above tips helpful, share the love! 

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