Is It Smart Marketing to Give Clients Gifts, And Should They Be Branded?

With the holidays fast approaching, businesses large and small consider whether it’s smart marketing to give gifts to their clients.  That big decision is usually followed by a number of smaller ones:

  • Does a gift make me look generous or opportunistic?
  • What kinds of gifts should I give?
  • Should I give branded gifts?


The simple answer is, yes. The right gift accomplishes several marketing goals.  For one thing, it reminds clients of your business relationship and increases brand awareness.  For another, it tells them that you don’t just care about profits but rather increasing trust and building loyalty, as Small Business Trends points out:

“Gifts keep you at the top of clients’ minds year-round, writes Forbes contributor John Hall. And even as some company’s cut back in recent times due to the economic crunch, others continue to be convinced gift-giving is important for maintaining relationships, reports the Sacramento Business Journal. If your company has a small number of clients or a small number of clients with particularly large accounts, you should try to customize their gifts as much as possible.”


It’s not always possible to send all or most of your clients gifts that are customized (for example, being sure not to send wine to a client who’s told you he prefers beer), but you should think strategically about sending gifts that are most likely to be right for the lion’s share of them.  You can also personalize your gifts using variable printing—a gift that includes the client’s name will go a long way in cementing your business relationship.


There’s no shortage of great client gift ideas out there—and you can get even more if you bring some of your team into the conversation.  That said, some gift ideas tend to work a lot better than others, including the following 5:

  1. A terrarium: this will run you about $20 or $30 per client, and it’s a better way to remind clients of your company for weeks and even months.  Select succulent plants that require minimal maintenance and very little watering for the best results.
  2. A notebook: this will cost you about $20 for a substantial option and has several advantages.  You can choose colors consistent with your brand palette—and, for an additional cost, you can personalize it.  Choosing a leather-bound option will add a note of the quality and professionalism that clients love.
  3. The lifesaver: a portable phone charger
    Who couldn’t use an extra phone charger? And, if your client is always on the go, a portable power bank makes the ideal gift. If you’re on a budget, you can order a branded power bank for under $10. Or, you can spend upwards of $25. Or, you can spend upwards of $25, or more for a high-end, large capacity model. Either way, it will be perceived as a practical and thoughtful gift.
  4. A coffee table book: don’t choose just any book—look for one that matches your client’s industry and personal taste.  It’s generally best to pick a book heavy on great photographs, something your client can place in an office sitting area that their customers will want to page through. Plan on spending $15 to $20 per client.
  5. Food, glorious food: it’s pretty hard to go wrong with a gourmet food basket—because, well, people like to eat.  The thing is, you don’t want to choose this option unless you’re willing to shell out some money (figure on anywhere from $75 to $175 per basket)—this is one you might want to reserve for your top clients.


To achieve your key marketing objectives, your business needs to leverage every opportunity to increase brand awareness.  The good news is that clients who just received a gift from your business aren’t likely to object to non-intrusive branding.

The operative phrase is “non-intrusive.”  It’s not a good idea to make your gift overtly “salesy,” in other words—a subtle approach is more effective, like organically including your logo among other design elements or choosing colors that match your brand.  Be sure your brand gets noticed without making it the main focus of your gift.

The key takeaway is this: Giving your clients holiday gifts is a way to increase customer engagement, build trust and generate loyalty.  It’s also among the more effective strategies to extend your company reach and influence of your brand.

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