The thing about giveaways and gifts

Giveaways and gifts regularly feature on my radar. It’s a tricky matter, tinged with personal feelings that make my ideas and clarity yet more difficult.
Giveaways are the easiest. Giveaways don’t come with the heavy personal element of customer relations. The rules of thumb are to give as much as possible, and to make sure that the branding is highly visible after giving, but that is not enough. The categories for gifts are well-used so an original gift is difficult.
Clothing is possibly the best gift of all, though this is expensive. It will be worn in the way of a walking billboard if given correctly, to those who most need clothing. The duration of the advertisement depends on the quality of the gear. The upside is that the typical t-shirt leaves room for design to attract attention. Given the expense, most companies now distribute clothing to staff. Although this may build team spirit, it may not reach far outside the premises.
License disc stickers are so saturated that it is now almost impossible to imagine giving them. There seems to be a flurry of them printed every year, and they arrive in drifts like the leaves that need raking up from under trees. I noticed some fairly effective car deodorisers in taxis, though no doubt this will also be crowded out in a few months.
The question of giveaways at shows also arises. Should giveaways be used to attract people to stands, rather than assigning the budget to developing a stand that attracts people to it?
The matrix essentially involves budget, volumes of giveaways and effective reach into markets (not kids, most of the time, though children are enchanted by freebies), and whatever is available that hasn’t been done to death by other companies.
Corporate gifting is yet more difficult
The rationale is that a relationship should be recognised with a gift. However this reasoning may be spurious or even dangerous in that the superficial recognition of giving a gift may reduce the keen awareness of the other more important elements of the business relationship, ongoing contact and the brand experience that the customer needs and wants.
If the contact and experience falls short, the gift will be of lesser value, more of an expense than a marketing investment. A gift should remind of a good rather than a poor experience.
Seasonality is also an issue. Christmas is the traditional season of giving, yet I get the sense that the gift volumes are at saturation point. If gifts are given for marketing purposes, bear in mind that you will compete for attention with other marketers giving their gifts. To rise above the clutter under the corporate tree and achieve use and traction in memory, the gift has to be useful in a different way from other gifts and exquisite. That means expensive.
Although regular use is important to achieve continuous awareness, some gifts are becoming archaic. A calendar may superficially appear useful, but how long can the category survive in the face of mobile devices and countless calendar reminders? Perhaps the better strategy might be to abandon the dictum of utility and recognise the aesthetic need by giving something purely decorative instead.
There is a different tactic, that cuts through the clutter of seasonality and questions about the validity of giving if the relationship is not sound.
The trick is to have a range of gifts on hand throughout the year, and give those on the basis of face-to-face contact in the enterprise setting. Some of it could be useful, like a pen for a client who has forgotten that item or whose writing utensil fails. Others may be less useful, like a box of chocolates, or a bottle of wine for a client who is showing signs of stress.
It will be more expensive as a range is needed that recognises some kind of individuality, but the giving will be more personal than a courier and less rushed than the schedule of Christmas visits.
I have a sense that I might do better trying to find a path to peace in the Middle East.

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