An end-of-year corporate holiday greeting card or email is hardly a gift worth remembering. Yet businesses still lean on this hackneyed method of sending well wishes at the end of the year.

It's safe to say that these trite communiqués rarely result in anything but a toss into the recycling bin or a press of the delete button. In other words, they're forgettable at best and a waste of time (and card stock) at worst.

Does this mean your company should follow Scrooge's lead and scrap gifting altogether? Absolutely not. However, it does mean that you should look for clever, fresh ways to build rapport with clients, colleagues, investors, and other important folks by treating holiday gift giving as a chance to do your best work.

Turning Gifting Into an Opportunity for Innovation

Most office desks are strewn with branded gifts like paper products, pens, and sticky notes. Occasionally, those items prove useful, but they're hardly the stuff of conversation. They're promotional pieces; not surprisingly, most people react to them the way little kids react to getting socks from Santa. It's not much more exciting than a lump of coal--but surely you wouldn't say that's true of your brand.

Holiday gifting shouldn't be considered a trivial to-do item on your Google calendar. As an opportunity to showcase your team's creativity, it should have a much higher status. It's also a chance for you to create memories and foster future positive engagements with people who can make or break your brand's success.

Not sure how to make gifting matter for your brand this season? Consider the following tactics for giving gifts that people actually appreciate. Then look over your recipient list and select offerings that will stand out among the tired fruit baskets and lackluster gift cards of the world.

1. Target the techie.

According to figures from a recent Adobe survey, about 32 percent of consumers already have a smart speaker. By the end of the year, the company anticipates that almost half of consumers will have one.

Use these statistics to your advantage. For instance, send a smart speaker to higher-end customers or partners, preprogrammed with your branded Skill or app if you like. Or choose a companion service to benefit people who are already smart speaker users, like an annual subscription to Spotify or a smart home device that syncs with voice-activated assistants.

2. Incentivize memory making.

Who'd turn down a free glass of après-ski prosecco? What about a comped mountainside breakfast or a discounted day on the slopes? Don't assume that an incentive isn't seen as a boon at the holidays. If it's personalized and makes the recipient feel as though you're rewarding their loyalty, it's a winning solution. You can even unlock the door to a dormant or stalled relationship with the right incentive package.

In partnership with digital incentive provider Wonder Technologies, California's four-season mountain resort operator Mammoth Resorts turned gift giving on its head by offering incentives to repeat visitors--and achieved an ROI of 430 percent, to boot. Not only were these gifts welcomed by consumers who loved skiing Mammoth Mountain, but they encouraged patrons to return over the summer and offered new ways to create long-term relationships between the brand and its fan base.

3. Give a gift that keeps on giving.

Forget about limiting your gifting to the end-of-year holidays. A subscription service will remind your target audience members every week or month that you value their business. Of course, this doesn't give you carte blanche to choose a subscription willy-nilly. You'll want to find the right one for each person on your list.

This requires a bit of sleuthing on your part if you don't know your recipient very well. Start your investigation online. Check out intended recipients' social pages, written articles, interviews, and even their LinkedIn profiles for clues on what they value. For instance, the client who takes selfies with her Labradoodle pup would be a clear candidate for BarkBox; likewise, the well-groomed sales rep might appreciate admittance to the Dollar Shave Club.

The holidays will be here before you know it, but you still have time to come up with seasonal presents that will endear your brand to their recipients instead of ending up as white elephant regifts. And with so many options on the market, your excuses for repeating last year's dull card just slid out the door on a sleigh. What's holding you back? Now is the best time to spring into action and gift like a pro.

Published on: Oct 17, 2018
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