Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I have found that there are some deliciously unfair advantages of being a corporate gift specialist.
On Sunday we celebrated my stepson’s 26th birthday. He is currently working with an art gallery but has also been studying to be a tour guide operator. He has a great love for wild life and has a very enchanting way of telling a story, which is a great advantage in this industry.
Taking into account his passions an opportunity presented itself in July. A client ordered a consignment of binoculars for the end of the year function. I have to tell you that this is easily my most organized client, as I have met no one else that ordered their gifts four months ahead of the function. If I ever expanded to a level that I needed my own internal event coordinator, I would definitely seek her out.
But back to my tale. When I received the order, I thought, “This is great” and ordered a set for both of my stepsons. One as a birthday gift for the 26 year old in September and one as a Christmas gift for my soon-to-be 13 year old step son.
In December my 13 year old stepson comes to visit us for the Christmas holidays. He is a wonderful addition to my life, but I have to admit that travel time with a demanding 5 year old and an irritated older step brother drives me to distraction.
So opportunity presented itself again. I have just received an order for 1000 USBs. It just so happens that the importer for the USBs also has some stock of great MP4 players. Bonus, get two MP4 players, one as a birthday gift for my stepson (his birthday is early in December) and one for my daughter. Then we have two occupied children instead of two terrorists saying “mommy, Mathew won’t give me any space.” Or, “No Margaret, move up”.
My stepdaughter and her fiancé recent bought a house and regularly have guests over on weekends for a braai, so I am thinking of getting them some of those outdoor camping chairs. In fact my dad just may like one of those as well, so that knocks him off the list.
This may seem a lot like cheating to you, but every job has its stressors and its perks. I consider this to be a perk. I have happy family members, who get gifts that they actually like and I save the time and fuel costs of rushing around buying gifts at what is arguably the busiest time of the year for a corporate gift specialist.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
As I write this I have a lot of physical tenderness We spent yesterday at a horse and game farm.
The last time that we went horse riding was in December last year. But yesterday was the first time that my daughter went riding with us. Her experience of horse riding has been a 5 minute guided pony ride.
We went out for a 1 hour ride, which was perfect for the heat of the day. Long enough for relaxation, and short enough without giving us heat exhaustion.
During the day I used several corporate gifts that I have acquired during my career. The joy of being a corporate gift specialist is that if there is something that I like, I order extra unit for us to use as a family.
We had a braai at the farm and so we packed our cooler bags, plastic plates, plastic glasses and knives and forks. I even have a great set of braai tongs which were also from my corporate gift stock. We were a group of ten, but the rest of the group had not planned properly for the event and so we were the only ones with the correct gear. A team was sent out of a type of foraging expedition to get paper plates, but in the end we had to use one of our plates for the braai meat and my family and I had to use our plates in relay to have lunch. This made me realize that when you have a large extended family, extra outdoor gifts are always a blessing.
We packed our caps and my daughter took her water bottle. Accidentally my husband took one of my manufacturing samples of my caps out with us and in the dust (because the area was quite dry), it became stained. We have so many caps at home and so I wondered how many caps a person can actually have, but the more time we spend outdoors, the more I come to realize that a cap is always a useful gift.
The day was a leisurely day in the morning as we braaied, had some refreshments and I added a few centimeters on by binging on jelly babies.
At about 15H30 we went out on our ride. There was some game on the farm and we were able to see zebras, waterbuck and gemsbok. I realized that I had left the binoculars and home. We pack the binoculars away because my 5 year old daughter tends to think that they are her personal toy binoculars, so it slipped my mid to consider taking them and for that I was sorry because she could not get a decent view of the game that was further away. I would have loved to have had the digital camera binoculars with us, because that way we could have captured the event for Margaret.
My daughter had insisted on riding the white horse, but when we got on the owners said that we needed to choose another horse as we needed something slower because of Margaret.
So I swapped with my husband Colin. Well this horse was so fast that it just stopped. My husband had to get off and had to start walking the horse. The irony of it was that just on the way to the ride he mentioned that we should go hiking more often. So we went for a ride and Colin went for a hike because he walked more than 50% of the way.
So last night when we returned home, we were all sore and tired, but of course Colin was exhausted.
As the weather begins to improve of the next few weeks and we welcome spring, we are looking forward to a lot more outdoor experiences. So this may be a good time for you to begin thinking about outdoor gifts for your corporate gifts for your clients.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Why purchase corporate gifts? The benefits of corporate gift giving can never be under-stated! Highly successful businesses understand the importance of branding. To achieve that well sorted after branding, resources are poured into marketing which will lead us to corporate gift giving!
Corporate gifts can be broadly categorised into internal and external branding. Internal branding can be achieve by acquiring gifts to be given to staff within the company. This will help to foster the common identity to build that corporate spirit and morale which will increase productivity.
External branding is by far the most important benefit of corporate gift giving between the two. Ultimately businesses are build around customers support. Therefore it is important to send signature corporate gift to customers to set your company apart and reinforce visual identity. Successful businesses are build on relationships that is base on the service that they provide more than the products they sell. It is this relationship that helps to seal the next project regardless of the price!
Personalised corporate gift which can be made affordable is used as a gentle reminder that your company still exists and re-established the business again! Whenever possible, promotional or seasonal corporate gift are best sent to thank customers for the business support.
Belle Regalo Supplier of Corporate Gifts is a South African company that supplies and imports corporate gifts and promotional gifts including watches, clocks, pens and keyrings. For your Corporate Gifts, you can order and personalize your corporate and promotional gifts for the end of the year gifts now.
As you will see we have an extraordinary range of giftsgift companies, we provide branding (Laser & scratch engraving, pad printing, sandblasting etc.) Our product ranges are suitable for promotionalcorporate gifts. You can make your corporate gifts unique and personalize them, so this year you can stand out from the crowd!
Want to improve your relationships? Use the power of reciprocity to build trust, and enhance your work, family, and social relationships.
Rule for Reciprocation:
"One of the most potent of the weapons of influence around us is the rule for reciprocation. The rule says that we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us."
Reciprocation flows from Divine Law that can neither be ignored or put aside. Perhaps, the most important of these laws is the law of love” Put simply, "Love is Law, Law is Love. God is Love, Love is God." This amounts to the same thing as "the gift of giving" without the "hope of reward or pay," or serving others. This 'law of love' is identified in many different ways this law of love in the workplace is described as the "law of reciprocity."
The law of reciprocity is not what can best be described as "transactional reciprocity”. Many people conceive of their business dealings as spot market exchanges--value given for value received, period. Nothing more, nothing less. This tit-for-tat mode of operation can produce success, but it doesn't invoke the power of reciprocity and so fails to yield extraordinary success."
Reciprocity is a basis of trust and a basis for legitimate power. People state The Law of Reciprocity in many forms. "I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine." "You reap what you sow." "You get what you give." These laws can be used well with the giving of corporate gifts. The giving of gifts is an acknowledgement of the time for an appointment, or thank you for business etc.
The principle is that others will reciprocate in kind based upon the way you treat them. The world gives you what you give to the world.
Social psychologists use the term "idiosyncrasy credits" that result from the favorable impressions we make on others. These credits accumulate and you can cash them in for favors or to get others to do things for us.
Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, uses the phrase "emotional bank account" to describe the principle of reciprocity and the corresponding credit-withdrawal process in relationships. Using the metaphor of a financial bank account, the emotional bank account describes the trust that accumulates in a relationship. Like the financial bank account, you must make deposits before you can make withdrawals.
You should note eight important points regarding The Law of Reciprocity:
1. People expect repayment over time. This is based upon the idea of social exchange. Reciprocity is an implicit assumption in most of our relationships. Giving and receiving favors is a common exchange. When someone does something for you, they implicitly expect that when the circumstance is right, you will do something of approximately equal value for them. For example, if your neighbor helps you put up a fence, your neighbor will expect you to help them when they put up a fence or need other assistance with their home. If you cover for someone at work, you expect that they will cover for you when you need their help.
2. Acts must be mutually rewarding. A successful relationship requires that all parties benefit from the relationship and invest in the relationship. Even when one party might be the primary giver, they still often have the expectation that they will receive in kind—if not from the other party then from the world at another time. If you are going to give a corporate gift, make sure that it is of nature that it can be used and will be appreciated.
3. Deposits don’t simply accumulate. The value of the deposits can increase or decrease over time. People may forget or ignore small deposits. People may remember big favors, large deposits or large gifts for longer periods. The value of deposits is what the other person perceives the value to be.
4. You can go in the red. You can wipe out your account with a single withdrawal. If you don’t have a large accumulation of credits, or you make a very large withdrawal, or you make many small withdrawals, you can go in the red.
5. You make deposits or receive credits by making favorable impressions on others—by doing things for them. You make deposits through courtesy, kindness, honesty, respect, gifts and other favors. The favors are often small, but they accumulate over time as your relationship blossoms. The deposits build trust and create a history of what the parties involved in the relationship expect from each other.
6. A history of reciprocity promotes trust. People evaluate your actions and motives based upon their perceptions of your previous actions and motives. If you are consistent in your corporate gift giving there is also a level of trust that the relationship has meaning to you and that you will consistency service this client.
7. Reciprocity is a very powerful form of power. The expectation of giving and returning gifts and favors creates an obligation to stick to agreements. This is a very powerful and psychologically binding expectation. Although they may never discuss the expectation openly, it is there and affects negotiations and relationships.
8. Reciprocity can be both positive and negative. If you harm others, they may seek revenge or retribution. People want to make things even in a relationship. They want to do good for those who have treated them well. They want to do harm to those who have harmed them.
By understanding and using the power of reciprocity, you can improve your relationships and avoid mistakes that can permanently damage your relationships. In life and work, you get what you give. Take for example when you are working on your corporate giftcorporate gift has tarnished the relationship. strategy. If you give branded wine to a person who is a recovering alcoholic or who has religious objections to alcohol, then the
The lesson is that we cannot pursue the power of reciprocity. When we try to invoke reciprocity directly, we lose sight of the reason for it: helping others. Paradoxically, it is in helping others without expecting reciprocity in return that we invoke the power of reciprocity. The path to reciprocity is indirect: reciprocity ensues from the social capital built by making contributions to others.
The deliberate pursuit of reciprocity fails, just like the pursuit of happiness. Acts of contribution, big and small, build your fund of social capital, creating a vast network of reciprocity. And so those who help you may not be those you help. The help you receive may come from distant corners of your network.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Corporate gifts are broadly recognized as anything given out by a company for free, with or without the company's name and logo attached to it. Sometimes, the smaller value items of this type are known as promotional items, but the two terms can be used interchangeably. Most people think of corporate gifts as being in the domain of large companies – places like Microsoft or other corporations with many employees as well as many customers. In fact, corporate gifts can work to help out any company.
Most smaller companies may not be able to give out as many corporate gifts or items that are very expensive, but you can still learn how to use corporate gifts to your advantage. One way to use these gifts or items is to give them to customers that you are already doing business with. Studies have shown that customers are much more likely to choose to go back to a company that has given them a corporate gift over a company that has not. These gifts can be great for customer retention.
Another way to use these corporate gifts is to give them out at trade shows or other exhibitions. In this case, you may not choose to use the higher end gifts you would give customers (such as office sets and other related objects), instead you will probably end up using promotional materials that are less costly. Some examples of these items that would work well in a trade show environment include pens, pencils, key rings and pads of paper – just to name a few.
A final way to use corporate gifts is in name recognition and brand building. If you are looking to build the size of your business and have more people choosing you on name or logo alone, you need to build your brand. Handing out promotional items or corporate gifts to prospective customers and current customers is a great way to accomplish this. Others who see these gifts will learn your name and remember your “brand” later on.
Big or small, learning how to use corporate gifts to your advantage can really help your business. Be sure that you are doing all you can to gain new customers and keep the ones you have by using these gifts.
Requests for desk based corporate gifts are a frequent one that I get as a corporate gift specialist. Often my clients question whether they should give a desk based corporate gift or a personal use corporate gift.
The answer lies in what you wish you achieve with your corporate gifts. Is it a relationship building corporate gift or an adverting gift?
Generally speaking, advertising is the paid promotion of goods, services, companies and ideas by an identified sponsor. Marketers see advertising as part of an overall promotional strategy. Other components of the promotional mix include publicity, public relations, personal selling and sales promotion. If your chief reason for giving out the gift is for advertising then the branding should be very prominent and visible. In this case a desk based corporate gift is an excellent idea.
This kind of corporate gift should be novel and useful so that it will actually be used by the recipient and thus promoting your brand. It should draw the eye of people to the item. Remember that the person who is already a client may enjoy the corporate gifts, but as they are an existing customer the primary focus of this gift is to draw attention of people who are not yet customers to your product, unless your goal is to reinforce your brand. This means that if this corporate gift is highly visible to passers by it will be noticed and it will thereby activate the brand building capabilities of this corporate gift.
CRM is an acronym for Customer Relationship Management. CRM is an industry term for software solutions that help enterprise businesses manage customer relationships in an organized way. An example of a CRM would be a database containing detailed customer information that management and salespeople can reference in order to match customer needs with products, inform customers of service requirements, etc.
These corporate gifts have a primary focus to build the relationship between you and your customer. As the relationship is the primary goal of this corporate gift, go for subtle branding. Don’t use your client as a human advertisement. Rather build the relationship with your corporate gifts and turn the customer into an advocate for your copy, because their referrals will mean a lot to your business and your reputation. You can make use of branded ribbon and branded gift wrap to enhance the brand and advertise your product especially upon delivery when a lot of your client’s colleagues are likely to see the corporate gift, but always put the customer first when deciding how to brand this corporate gift.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
From time to time I get industry related gifting ideas questions.
If you find a good graphic designer or copy writer you can put together a fabulous brochure that can blow anyone’s mind. But I looked for over all presentation, whether the caterer was on time for the appointment (as this would be an indication of whether they would meet deadlines) and of course taste. But these days it is difficult to taste unless the caterer has an open day. So her are a few gifting suggestions for caterers.
For introductory appointments I would suggest:
Branded ribbon, beautiful boxes and tissue paper. Then make up a batch of your signature cookies, pastries etc and place in the beautiful box. I am personally going to make up these boxes for me as many of my clients already have it all. A few years back I was at an exhibition and I had a taste tester at one of the caterer’s stands and I was sold.
Try to make your gifts representative of your industry.
Shopping bags are also a good idea. But remember to add a message in the shopping bag. For example, we only use the freshest ingredients in our dishes. Here something for you when you are stocking up on fresh ingredients.
Coasters can be purchased in sets, but handed our individually. You get a coaster that is a puzzle. Take one piece of the puzzle out and send it to your client with a message. “A good caterer takes care of all the little details that make a prefect function. This piece represents you, we take care of the rest. Then drop off the rest of it and inspire your client.
Monday, August 20, 2007
This marketing “speak” tends to end at boardroom level and does not infiltrate into every level of the business. Corporate gifts become a “nice-to-have” and not an integrated part of the customer acquisition and customer retention strategy.
Many companies do not know how many high-value customers they lose, nor do they know the reason why key customers are lost. What is also alarming is the fact that studies have shown that in the vast majority of companies, staff responsible for talking to customers could not articulate why customers should buy from them. Each failure to observe good practice leads to a leakage or even in some cases a hemorrhage in profitability.
You can and should use your corporate giving as part of a corporate communication strategy. When your consultants takes the corporate gift to the client, don’t let them just drop it off at reception. Make a set appointment and get the consultant to do a debrief of the year with the client.
Get them to ask face to face critical questions such as “Mr/Ms Smith I am always looking for way that I can improve my level of service to you. Can you give me three suggestions on how I can improve, based on your experience with me this past year?”
You can set the questions, but also set the tone for the next year, so that the client knows that you will do what it takes to retain their business.
Make sure the corporate gifts should be highly suitable and appreciable so that when you are sitting face to face with the client he/she has a positive attitude.
It is important to determine what the policy will be this year on corporate gifts. and to send out a memorandum to your corporate office. You may consult with the person, those who get the gifts in your corporate office only for a suggestion, but let your relationship with your clients be the guide.
Make sure the corporate gifts should be highly suitable and appreciable. Be sensitive to religious and cultural preferences while purchasing end of the year gifts. Unless you know that the client drinks never give alcohol. High stress levels in the work place have lead to alarming levels of alcoholism and certain cultures prohibit the use of alcohol, so keep that branded wine for those who will appreciate it.
You should not offend anyone because you have to work with them everyday, so don’t go for funny or obnoxious gifts. They will appreciate a hamper with pamper items or consumable rather than ten pencil sets, so be careful that you purchase gifts that are not too ordinary.
You can visit www.belleregalo.co.za for some gifting ideas.
Instead of reserving pens for a conference alone, hand a few to your sales consultants to hand out when they hand out their business cards. I personally have given pens to people that I have met when I was at a function and I have actually received calls from people who have received them.
So many people give me their business cards at a function, but I do not always remember where I have met them. When you give a pen, you can use it to write on the back of your business card where you have met the person who you are giving the pen to. So when they next see your card, they can say “Oh yes, Mrs …., I met her at the Gibs Forum that I attended. This was some great advice that I got from sales and marketing guru Jacques de Villiers.
It may surprise you that as a corporate gift supplier I am often without a pen. Yes there is the irony, so when I get a pen at a function, I keep it in my handbag and unless my 5 year old daughter has been looking for lip ice in my bag and removes a pen (because she and my husband are have a love of pens), these pens tend to stay in my bag and each time I use them, the issuing company’s brand is reinforced.
Actually this works for a number of low cost gifts. I have an Old Mutual lip ice in my bag. Take that into account with the current great television advertising for the rural based lady who started a nursery with the funds in her Old Mutual investment, the brand is slowly sinking into my brain. It made we wonder why I have not considered their investments as an option for me before.
So guess who I will be investigating next time I take out an investment. Why Old Mutual of course thanks to their clever integrated branding campaign.
It seems so simple, but it really does work as part of a long term branding strategy.
But please remember to add your website address or telephone number onto the pen. If I was looking at an Old Mutual investment, I would not know who to call as the lip ice has no contact details on it.
For my smaller clients I usually recommend the website address instead of a telephone number because if their number should change the pens or other low cost gifts become will not direct the client to them.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Gift giving is made a lot more complicated that what it should be.
There is an old saying “ People don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care”.
In my life I have found this to be true. I am sure if you think about it, in your life there are people who have stood out.
Those are the people who take time for you, who understand your situation, or who have a listening ear. In fact from a spiritual level, the Christian bible has a section on the love and spiritual gifts. “If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth, but didn’t’ love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like clanging symbol.” It speaks about a number of the spiritual gifts but love always comes out on tops.
What does this has to do with corporate gifts, you may ask? Well a lot actually. Going through a corporate gift catalogue and choosing gifts according to budget without being concerned with to whom or why you are giving out these gifts to is rather meaningless.
But of course you do not have the time to get an individual gift for each client. There are however ways of showing that you actually took some time to consider your client.
For example today I sent out a low cost gift idea to some of my regular clients. Usually I do not send out the inexpensive give-away option notifications, although there are on our on-line gift catalogue, but when I received notification that the gift idea had arrived in stock, I saw how it could make my life better.
For years I have suffered with backache and before I had my daughter I would often be seen with a large handbag. The kind that contains the kitchen sink as well as all the “absolutely essential” things that any woman has to have.
Plagued by continuous, shoulder and backache and frequent headaches I ditched the large bag and opted for a small bag that can only contain a few things.
But I do still need a cell phone; in fact I have two, one for business and one for personal, so that I preserve my private family time. I also need a pen, business card holder, lipstick holder, notepad, comb; lipstick brush and a few other odds and ends.
Today I received a notification of an all-in-one calculator with pen and business card holder. The business card holder has a roller so you can just roll the business card out. What, a wonderfully compact and useful item. One that can easily fit into my handbag and give me more space and time. Time, you may question… yes, time. Scratching around for a pen, my business card holder etc is frustrating. Here it is all in one space and that removes frustration in my life.
Now how can you make the love of people relevant to this gift? Well just send a note to accompany your gifts communicating something much like my experience and tell your client, that you know that life is cluttered and that we all need a little extra space, extra time, less frustrations etc.
Now you have just found gifts that can make your client’s life a little easier. The gift then changes from a just another branded gift, to a solution that you have thought up just to help your client improve their life.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Astoundingly enough I had a client who just took delivery of binoculars for their year end function and just this week I had a call from one of my clients in the air conditioning industry asking for end of the year gift suggestions.
But I have to admit that these fabulously organized clients are a rarity. So many clients may book venues and other elements of the function in advance, but seems to leave the year end gifts until the last minute.
However the corporate gift industry is not isolated in this dilemma. I was chatting to one of my favorite caterers Prue Leith the other when the CEO told me that he had received calls three days before a function to see if he had availability to do catering for an event. Sometimes we can help with the event because we are available, but sometimes it is just impossible.
They are only as good as the information and time frames that you give them.
Gifts, branded serviettes, branded gift wrap; banners; invitations all have lead times and some customized items have to be manufactured and factory space has to be booked. Sadly many people see events gifts from a retail perspective. Sometimes the goods are not available the way they would be if you were in a retail centre. Capacity has to be booked.
So it is best to start your planning for your event now if you have not done so already.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
While I do not relish the idea of racing around the house with a feather duster, I do welcome the idea of smelling the jasmine, hearing the beautiful song of the birds in the morning when I wake up and visiting the botanical gardens to enjoy lazy afternoon picnics in the warm sunshine with my dashingly handsome husband. Plus I get to visit a nearby dam with my beautiful little fairy princess daughter and feed the ducks.
I also love the idea that the warmer weather allows us to throw open all the windows and let the warmth of the day filter lovilgly into our home. I finally get to go though my storage and bring out all my pretty summer dresses and spend the weekends in feminine strappy sandals or simply barefoot in the glistening, dewy green morning grass of spring. This is an excellent time of the year for the ladies to go for a pedicure to get those pretty toes perky for the delicious waves of sunshine that bless our lives.
Although it is freezing now while I write, I know that in just a few weeks the delicious sent of spring will fill the air and every time you breathe you breathe in sheer happiness. I can hardly wait.
Yes, Spring Day, 1st September, symbolizes hope and new beginnings, flowers bloom and summer is on its way. Celebrate this month of September, and encourage your staff and clients with a gift to show that you value them.
For Spring day we actively promote beaded gifts from a black empowered manufacturer who is a non-profit organisation, and aims to dramatically impact and improve the lives of previously disadvantaged South Africans by providing Technical Skills, Business Skills and Life Skills training, together with, Job and Wealth Creation opportunities.
The project has trained and empowered more than 300 unemployed, and currently employs up to 80 people in its Job Creation programme.
That is our way of promoting spring in their lives. Job creation is like that firm bloom of spring, full of promise and possibilities.
I hope you plan to celebrate this wonderful time of the year both in your business and in your personal life.