This is the second post following my interview with Bev Barnfather of Ladybird Gifts. Today we’re looking at effective business gifting throughout the year, rather than just at Christmas. (Read the first post for Christmas gifting tips.)

We’re going to use real estate agencies to show how businesses can use strategic gifting. But these hints aren’t limited to real estate. They apply whenever each sale is a project and the price point is high. That includes services like organising luxury travel, wedding planning, an office fitout, selling a business, securing intellectual property or so on.

Let’s get back to real estate agents. The simplest – and most common – way they use gifts is to thank vendors and purchasers at settlement. But there are ways to take that gift giving opportunity and use it to stand out, build a relationship and get feedback.

Here are Bev’s tips.

1. Don’t just give a bottle of wine.

What happens if you do? Your client may not drink for personal or religious reasons. Alternately they may enjoy the wine. Once consumed there is no lasting memory and nothing left to remind them of you.

A better option is to put together a package which includes a “use and keep” item – a gift that has permanence. Something beautiful that your client can both use and display. When family, friends or clients notice and comment on it, this creates a natural opportunity to mention your name. This has the possibility of generating a referral and word of mouth when associated with nice things and generosity reaps i’s own rewards.

Specific gift ideas include glasses, beautiful wine and water carafes, quality serving boards, cheese boards and vases. Some items might be multipurpose – beautiful jugs can also serve as vases – so clients are more likely to find a way to put them on display.

2. Choose a good time to give your gift.

Bev advises real estate agents against giving a gift when purchasers come in to pick up the keys. Instead, she recommends saying something like:

Congratulations. I have your keys ready for you. I know you’re in the middle of moving and you’re flat out right now. We have a gift for you and would love to catch up later and bring this to you. May I call you in a week or two?’

It makes sense. Your gift is likely to get lost in the chaos of moving. Let them settle in first, then go and visit – they will have more time to appreciate your gift. The important thing is that they will be more relaxed and this gives you the opportunity to get some feedback on how everything went. They may even offer a name or two to contact for future business!

(Funny. This tip ties in so neatly with my suggestion of using surveys at the end of your projects! Same principle, different technique.)

3. No logos on your business gifts

A gift with a logo sits is merchandise and sits in the advertising space – not the “thank you” space. It’s not a gift.

It’s also counterproductive. If you put your logo on a gift, will your client really put it on display? You just lost the opportunity to start conversations about you.

By all means, have packaging in your brand colours. If you really want to, add a little sticker with your name and logo. But no more than that.

4. Match the gift to the value of the purchase.

You don’t want your clients to feel they got a cheap gift. You don’t want them to think it was overpriced either. That might make them wonder if you’re taking too big a fee and ripping them off!

Divide your clients into 3 groups. 20-30% are at the bottom of your line’s price range, then 60% in the middle. Finally there’s that 10 to 20% who buy the really expensive items right at the top of your range. Choose different gifts for each group.

For your most special clients, you might give a custom gift.

5. A bonus tip for real estate agents specifically.

Make sure you gift your vendors as well!!

Many real estate agents comment that their vendors are moving out of the area, so it is pointless giving them a gift. Vendors are still great referrers, even if they relocating elsewhere. Logical thinking dictates that they are paying your commission. They are acutely aware of the dollars you are “earning” and deserve a thank you!

If the vendor is actually staying in the area, they may engage the same real estate agent if they had a positive experience and felt valued. Consider how they are they going to feel about you if they do not receive a gift and how many people will they mention this to?

Business gifts should be viewed as an investment, not a cost.

If you’d like to explore more effective business gifting, why not have a chat with Bev at Ladybird Gifts?