Giftspeak: Connecting The Dots For Gratitude
Just how confident are you about that birthday present you gave your brother or those holiday gifts you’re planning for the sales team? I hope your recipient smiles with glee rather than secretly plots who gets it as a re-gift.
For all you last-minute holiday shoppers or folks charged with buying employees their year-end presents, there’s a method to choosing the right gift. Take this opportunity to really mesh your own thoughtfulness with your knowledge of the recipient.
When we celebrated my company’s fifth anniversary a few years ago, I had some VIPs to recognize with special gifts, but didn’t have a lot of time. So I called on Hillary Feder of Hopkins-based Hillary’s Gifts. She specializes in recognition and appreciation, and her lessons about meaningful, relevant, and practical gifts have stayed with me.
I’m combining Hillary’s advice on best practices for gift-giving with my customary advice about how to best communicate your personal brand; taken together, it can help eliminate some holiday stress as you take care of business and personal year-end duties.
If you’re charged with buying the right gift for an entire team or even the entire company, there are a few key steps to getting it right. Make sure your gift connects to your organization’s brand. Be thoughtful; food, for example, is always a good idea, but if you go with an edible gift, make sure the packaging is branded.
Feder says packaging takes you a long way, no matter what the gift. Even if you decide to do gift cards because the “perfect gift” is not leaping to mind, “it’s not about how much you invest but how meaningful the gift is to people who receive it and how you connect the dots when it comes to that meaning,” she says. Great packaging can help get across your intent and thoughtfulness even more—for example, put a gift card in a sleeve of golf balls for the golfers in your office, or place a movie house gift certificate in a bucket of popcorn.
Audience analysis also plays into gift-giving for a solo receiver, whether that’s your boss or a valued client (or even your significant other). One of my company’s anniversary gifts was a red pashmina wrap to one of my clients known for her stylish scarves. My company’s signature color is red and my signature branding item is a stylized microphone. Her name ended in an “a” so we had her first name embroidered on the pashmina, with the microphone as the tail on the “a” in her name.
On my own, I might not have known to combine branding and someone’s name like this. Feder taught me that “anything with someone’s name on it has a longer shelf life—in general, five years longer than gifts without the name.”
Customized Wow Moments
A final example of thoughtful gift-giving comes from one of Feder’s clients. When Medtronic celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first external pacemaker, the company wanted to create a gift that really honored the recipients and had a brand message that would live into the future.
Feder assessed the audience and learned they were not only key opinion leaders in the company, but also physicians in the cardiac health area. The customized gift became a small replica of the pacemaker embedded in a light-reflecting prism of Lucite. Some might look at that and think “boring paperweight.” But to this group, it was a piece of art symbolizing their trailblazing product.
When you give a gift that has a focused intent, customized to your recipient’s personality and delivered with flair, you create a meaningful moment for both parties. Now won’t that be a fulfilling way to wrap up the year?