It’s that time of year again when managers/owners of businesses give Christmas cards and gifts to other managers/owners of businesses.
The main reason for doing so – let’s be completely honest – is so that the person who gets the gift or card will think kindly of us and will bring us more sales, purchases or fresh business as a result. (Whether a bottle of cheap sherry is worth, say, a £20,000 PR retainer is beside the point!)
What concerns me is the sheer cost – sorry, “investment”- that businesses make in return for a client’s favour. Christmas gift expenses might pass invisibly through larger companies, but if you’re a small-scale enterprise, the cost of giving and distributing gifts at Christmas can take a fair chunk out of the month-end accounts.
They say it’s better to give than to receive, but do you buy pressies for the clients who’ve put a decent amount of business your way over the year (and who therefore probably don’t need a “sweetener” to stay loyal) or the new ones who’ve hardly spent a penny yet? Or do you give to those who are not yet clients in the hope that a Christmas card will galvanise them into becoming a customer?
And then there’s the question of who, exactly, should you give to within the organisation – the MD with who you may have may have no actual contact, or the department head who is your actual “reporting in” person, or the finance director who writes your cheques (promptly and without query, you hope), or the secretary/gatekeeper on whom you rely to forward your calls?
And what if you decide that the whole corporate gift giving game is too much had work and expense so you send nothing to nobody – will it really adversely affect future businesses?
What are other people’s experiences and advice on corporate gift giving at Christmas?