Could the gift you send to a prospect or customer do more harm than good? Unfortunately, sharing an international business gift isn’t as easy as sending a gift card.
Different cultures often have unique expectations and practices around gifting. For instance, the type of gift profoundly impacts how it’s perceived. Another challenge is knowing when to send a corporate gift before or after a business meeting.
But that’s just the start.
For some organizations, corporate gifts attract scrutiny for influencing the business relationship. Bribery is a valid concern, especially for public or government entities. Even with the best of intentions, expensive gifts can give the appearance of corruption.
So, we got to work to take on the complexity for marketers and salespeople who want to share delight and love around the world.
New: In-Depth Guide to Gifting Globally
As a leader in corporate gifting, we developed the 53-page The Ultimate Guide to Gifting Globally to cover common gifting practices found worldwide and suggest sensible guidelines to operate well within a market’s expectations.
It offers a primer on what gifts you should send, gifting occasions, and tips to navigate each country’s local laws. Read it in full — if you like it, we’ll email it to you — simple as that.
Here’s a peek inside:
Preview of what’s in the Alyce global gift-giving guide (Get it here)
Don’t forget the checklist at the end so you can evaluate your upcoming gifting campaign at a glance.
Gifting stretches across cultures and ranks among one of the oldest human traditions, along with storytelling, rituals, and complaining about the weather.
In Ancient Egypt, Pharaohs who had recently built pyramids were given gifts. In the Middle Ages, vassals were customary to provide gifts to their liege lords to declare their allegiance.
These practices later translated into gifting in business relationships as well. Business partners would exchange gifts and thank you notes before and after a new sale as a sign of appreciation, respect, or celebrating the new business relationship. Alyce is proud to help companies carry this rich tradition in modern business.
Gifting helps break through the digital noise. It allows us to build real, meaningful connections with our business contacts. But, merely sending business swag or a gift basket isn’t enough.
With a variety of personalized gifts, direct mail, swag, and branded swag boxes at your fingertips, you can build lasting relationships — not just records in a database.
Challenges with Global Gift-Giving
Sending a thoughtful gift sounds simple, right? But unfortunately, it’s complicated when your recipient lives outside the United States. Shipping hassles and uncertainty of what makes a good gift between different cultures limit people from gifting internationally.
Here are a few pains when gifting overseas:
- Customs - Gift recipients may be forced to pay outstanding postage, including taxes depending on the declared value. This is a hassle, even if it’s a perfect gift.
- Currency Exchange - Due to foreign currency exchange, the value of a gift card changes by the day. The variations can make it arduous to keep up just to spread some delight abroad.
- Tracking - When a business gift is shipped to another country, they are subject to search, and that could potentially damage your gift and delay its delivery.
Businesses have a couple of better options to address these issues.
You can send a digital gift delivered instantly over email or social media. This type of gift also includes non-profit charitable contributions, which can make recipients more emotionally connected to your outreach. It also tends to be more eco-friendly since the recipient chooses precisely what they want.
Alternatively, you can work with a gifting service with a physical presence in your recipient’s country for physical gifts.
Alyce helps marketing teams connect with customers through personal, relevant, and thoughtful gifts. Our gifting platform works with your existing business tools, and our partners can ship practically anywhere.
👉 Must-Read: 7 Signs You Need a Corporate Gifting Platform
Benefits of Worldwide Corporate Gifting
As a marketing leader, you know the importance of building meaningful relationships with your customers, employees, and partners. And one of the best ways to show appreciation and build those bonds is through corporate gifting.
Corporate gifts are more than just giving away swag with your company logo. When done right, it’s a thoughtful way to show appreciation and foster a sense of community among your most important audiences.
In a global market, it’s essential to look beyond your border to engage prospects, delight customers, and reward employees.
Here are four practical corporate gifting benefits:
1. Increase Customer Engagement & Loyalty.
There are many ways to show customers you appreciate them. Use personalized, high-quality gifts to show customers they’re worth it. People want to feel valued at individual touchpoints along their customer journey. By giving customers gifts with the elements of surprise and delight, you’re bound to make them think favorably about your brand.
2. Deliver a Premium Event Experience.
Deliver a memorable experience at your conference for your customers that differentiates you from your competition. Thematic pre-event gifts and exclusive follow-up gifts will excite your audience and leave them wanting more. Your imagination is the only limit here.
3. Ramp Up Employee Recruiting.
Attract the top candidate with personal outreach that crushes the competition. Project a positive reflection of your employer brand with a personal, relevant, and thoughtful gift. And if they’re not ready, you can often source a strong referral from the interaction.
4. Build a Trusted Brand.
Get your B2B brand in front of a target audience by equipping new customers, partners, and employees with a corporate swag box filled with fun branded items. Consider the power of reaching out to tastemakers to build your brand. When an influencer features your product or message in their content, their audience will take note. Gifting can be a powerful way to get your message out there in a way that doesn't necessarily feel like an advertisement.
Even the Internal Revenue Service considers corporate gifting a business expense. Business gifts may be tax-deductible up to $25 per person — but we recommend investing more to grow the relationship. Nevertheless, branded swag that costs $4 or less per recipient is excluded.
When you show your customers, employees, and partners that you appreciate them, you’re not just building goodwill; you’re also building a stronger foundation for your business.
Send Gifts People Want — Not Junk.
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Who Should Get a Business Gift?
... You, of course!
Although you can send gifts to the founder or CEO, they might not be the best business associate. Instead, think about the people who regularly interact with your company, such as managers or directors. Those roles likely recommend products and services to purchase.
Build a business relationship with a prospective company’s senior manager, director, or VP. From there, they can serve as your eyes and ears as to who else should be involved. Then, consider sending an appropriate gift after you’ve had a fruitful business meeting.
For existing accounts, focus on end-users. They are the most passionate about your brand and can speak to it. And if there are blemishes, they’ll be remarkably candid so you can address the customer experience.
As proper international business etiquette, if someone’s not interested, thank them, ask for feedback, and move on. Pressuring them is a sure-fire way to get blocked.
Types of Business Gifts
Which type of gift should you send a customer or prospect? The type of business gift should be proportionate to the relationship and brand awareness stage.
We recommend that the deeper the relationship, such as by account revenue, tenure, and qualitative experiences, the more meaningful gift you should select.
- Small gifts - Small gifts are meaningful when they relate to your recipient’s #5to9. Are they a fierce Yeti fan? A Yeti Rambler is a good bet. Perhaps they mentioned their plans for an upcoming holiday — a holiday gift is great!
- Branded gifts - Reserve the branded corporate swag for brand influencers, partners, and passionate customers. The idea is simple — is the gift for your company or them? If they’d consider it a good gift, by all means, link them to your swag store.
- High-value gifts - For long-time customers and ones that really move the needle in the business, consider these to say thank you or to make room for a longer discussion (like a renewal or expansion conversation). Be sure to check the Alyce global gift-giving guide for appropriate gift limits in your recipient’s country.
- Experiences - It’s good to be different and stand out. Experiences can be the perfect gift. If you know someone who enjoys museums or would appreciate a wine tasting — share that experience with them. Plus, you’ll have more to talk about at the next business meeting.
- Personal gifts - When you have a strong relationship with your recipient, like if you’re an account manager or you’re their go-to contact for new orders, send them a nice gift on their special occasions. Examples include birthdays, graduations, and the start of the holiday season.
Scale Your International Business Relationships With Alyce
Even with all the focus on global gift giving, never forget that the best gift is the message itself.
Consider the context of your relationship to say thanks and give something they’d brag about to their friends or loved ones. “Oh yes, a branded trucker hat,” said no prospect ever.
When paired with a personal video, a thoughtful gift card goes a long way to express gratitude or to connect with one’s hobbies and interests — including their culture.
As you think about growing your gifting program, be sure to snag The Ultimate Guide to Gifting Globally. It’s packed with gift suggestions, holidays, and useful advice when sending gifts overseas.
Alyce provides you with the gifting platform and expertise to take your outbound marketing and sales programs to the next level.
I also want to thank the world-renowned law firm, Latham & Watkins, for their contributions to this guide.