Business Gift Giving

A Modern Day Warrior

I recently had an important sales meeting with a large potential customer interested in our SMART Mobile marketing solution. On my way to the meeting, I stopped by the local Guitar Center to pick up a pair of Pro Mark 747 Neil Peart Signature Series drumsticks. Those drumsticks are significant in that they include a custom branded QR code and short code (“Text RUSH to 247365”) right on the packaging. The call to action leads customers, qualified drummers, to a mobile Magmito application for any phone that we developed. It’s the perfect illustration of a medium-sized business (Pro Mark) using mobile marketing at the point of sale. In addition to adding to the relevance of my presentation (who doesn’t love some ‘show & tell’ during a presentation?), the sticks act as a great conversation piece. Most people (my age) either know of and/or like the band Rush or know a drummer/have a story about a drummer.

This presentation was no different. Before the meeting started, I learned that one of the meeting attendees had a drumming son. In addition, her husband loved the band, Rush. We immediately made a personal connection about music and shared brief stories before launching into my schpeal. Upon leaving the meeting, I gave the sticks to her to pass along to her son. She was very appreciative. The sales relationship moved fast following that meeting and we still talk about music and the progress of her son’s musical career, on occasional business calls. Did the personal connection remove a barrier and immediately establish trust?  Had I not made that connection would I have had the sales relationship I have with her today?

The Act of (the Right) Business Gift Giving

Giving a gift in a business environment can be tricky. Gifts are usually used to establish and foster good relationships and promote goodwill. They may also be used to thank a customer for their past business; to cement the relationship; and/or to encourage continued business. You want to select and deliver gifts that leave your clients delighted. Business gifts need to be appropriate and memorable. They should never be perceived as a bribe, for influence and/or to make-up for a past indiscretion. The wrong gift and/or the wrong timing could mean be the end of a business or sales relationships whereas the right gift may not only earn instant brownie points but valuable, constant mindshare and a competitive advantage.

On choosing the right gift in a business environment, in Greg Hall eZine’s article “Business Gift Giving Etiquette,” he suggests learning as much about the customer as possible before giving a gift. Know that the gift will be appreciated by the customer. Learn about their interest and hobbies. In other words, make it personal yet don’t cross boundries. If you’re dealing with international customers be sure to familiarize yourself with local customs. Gifts to stay away from include gag gifts, cigars and/or alcohol. Be aware of the perceived value of the gift, your budget and its intention. Put yourself in your client’s shoes. The amount of the gift should be relevant to their position in the company; the higher the position a person holds the more expensive the gift can be. Give different gifts to people within the same company if you plan to give more than one person a gift.

Uncle Sam and Gift Giving

According to tax specialist Ronald J. Carppuccio, “You can only write off up to $25 per person per year. But there’s a tax-wise maneuver that can increase your deduction if you want to be more generous… Simply give tickets to the theater or a sporting event. Under the tax law, you can treat gifts as either an entertainment expense or a business gift. Keep in mind, however, that you can only write off 50% of entertainment expenses. But with the cost of tickets these days, it’s possible to come out ahead on your tax return and give a special gift. For example, let’s say you want to thank a favorite customer with two $75 tickets to a professional basketball game. If you treat the tickets as a business gift, you can only deduct $25 of the $150 cost. But if you classify the tickets as an entertainment expense, your deduction grows to $75 ($150 reduced by the 50 percent limit).”

Wrap Up

Gifts in any atmosphere make people feel good, special and appreciated. Choose the right gift in a business environment and it can impact your bottom line and your customer relationships tremendously.

About the Author

Angelo Biasi is General Manager of SMART Marketing Solutions, LLC, a leading full-service integrated marketing company in Naples, FL since 2001. He has helped create and execute marketing plans and integrated marketing solutions for companies such as Playtex, Bic, Rogaine, Tauck, and over 35 colleges and universities, to name a few. Angelo has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Connecticut and teaches Marketing at New York University where he has for over five years. For more information or to learn more, email him at abiasiatsmartmarketingllcdotcom  (abiasiatsmartmarketingllcdotcom)  , visit or call 239.963.9396.


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