As a consumer, choosing from a group of similar businesses means looking at a variety of factors including timing, price, convenience, and reputation. What if your business had a reputation of giving and service? Would the price be as much of a factor for you if your brand was known for its integrity, customer service, and client appreciation?
Businesses jump through hoops coming up with marketing ideas that will ensure they stand out from their competition and get noticed. One strategy that is often overlooked is “giving”. Giving with your brand presents the opportunity to shine by focusing on appreciation and gratitude instead of gimmicks and attention-grabbing advertising with little substance to back it up.
Find Your Brand Giving Focus
The cornerstone of being a giving brand is to switch up your mindset. While it is important to set goals and milestones that will move your business forward when it comes to marketing you need to put yourself in the shoes of your consumer. What are they looking for? What will entice them? How would you want a brand to approach you and retain you? To be a giver you should switch up your focus and think more like the purchaser and less like a business owner.
Giving Means Investment
You can’t be a giving brand without making an investment, whether it is in service, product, or gifts. The key is to remember that this investment, when done well, has the biggest possible return in terms of customer loyalty, word of mouth marketing, and business reputation.
Giving Through a Service or Product
It may be tempting to give away free products or services as part of your new giving strategy. However, keep in mind that you don’t want to undervalue what you offer. Giving products and services away for free could set up an expectation that consumers can bargain or negotiate with you in terms of price.
- If giving a product or service, ask yourself, is the value of what you are giving away even worth it? Depending on your pricing structure, this type of freebie could cost WAY more than simply purchasing gifts that could have the same impact.
- I always advise saving product samples, or “free demos” for new client acquisition, and not as part of an appreciation gift strategy.
Appreciation through Gift Giving
The other alternative is to come up with a gifting plan that allows you to stay true to your brand, not undermine your offering or pricing, and generate those positive giving benefits that come from investing in your clients. When showing appreciation through gifts, important to be thoughtful and not just rush out with the first plausible item that came into mind. Here are a few tips to help you give the best gifts for your brand:
Choose a Qualified Vendor:
Your vendors/partners will represent your brand so it’s imperative that you team up with companies that you work well with and that deliver a quality product. Whether it’s a graphic designer, printer or promotional product company, do your research before hiring. Ask yourself whether the vendor understands your brand and has the capability of representing you in a way that makes you proud.
My go-to vendor is Zamar Screen Printing. Suzanne is a pleasure to work with, and best of all, she does ALL of the shopping for you. If you provide her with some general guidelines (WHO you are gifting to, HOW much your budget is, and WHEN you need the items in hand) she’ll find the perfect item to make you a brand giving rock-star.
Once you have vendors in place, the next best thing you can do is to plan ahead. Sounds like common sense, but many businesses neglect to plan.
- Planning ahead saves you money, waiting for results in rush charges, expedited shipping, and limits your selection as some gift ideas take weeks to design and produce.
- Planning ahead also allows you to incorporate holidays, special events, and even seasons when narrowing down your choices. Is there an anniversary coming up – how long have you worked together? Take advantage of these occasions.
Know Your Budget
As with any marketing endeavor, knowing how much to spend helps you narrow down your options.
- Don’t overspend—be aware of what the ROI will be for the gift
- Be wary of underspending—Buying gifts on the cheap can be extremely harmful to your brand. Suzanne told me that “cheaper” products are often last year’s castoffs such as water bottles that leaks, or pens that don’t work… what does that say about your brand? It’s best to pay a little bit more for a higher quality item.
- Spend accordingly—it’s OK to spend more on some clients than on others (i.e. spoiling your best clients is perfectly acceptable.)
And, Don’t Skimp on the Artwork
It makes no sense to invest in promotional products and then submit subpar artwork. People are visual so your design is essential. Make sure you put together graphics that are clean, sharp, at the best possible resolution, and that represent your branding in the best possible light.
To give you a few ideas for how your brand can be a giver, I reached out to Susanne for some cost-effective products. These should help you brainstorm how to convert to a more giving brand strategy.
Chapsticks - $0.95 each
These are not only cost effective; they are easy to carry to networking events and other business functions. They are a great item to have in your pocket for a spur of the moment branded gift.
Pens – Ranging from $0.20 to $1.00 each
Pens are some of the most useful gifts a company can receive. Plus, your brand image will be a constant reminder each time the pen is used. They can also be customized to match your logo and image style.
Tote or Grocery bags – Under $1.75 with a HUGE logo
These are not only great as gifts but could also be used to transport more significant items.
Post-It Notes - $0.66 each
You will find these on the desks of your clients, a constant reminder of your business there for all to see!
Magnetic Clips - $0.99 each
These come in all sorts of shapes to complement your branding and are another way to achieve TOMA (Top of Mind Awareness) with your clients.
USB Flash Drives - $4.00 to $10.00 depending on style and storage capacity
These are not only extremely useful for anyone, but they can be loaded up with marketing materials, products, or digital gifts.
Whatever the game plan is, give yourself time to come up with a thoughtful gift. Keep presentation and delivery in mind making the gift giving an experience your client will not soon forget.
Zamar is my partner of choice when it comes to giving with any brand. Don’t hesitate to contact them and get their assistance and advice when developing your strategy.