Whatever the scale the rules remain the same, and unlike your personal life you most certainly do give to receive. Is this really so bad in business if the recipient is happy? Buy your customer an unbranded gift and they will be grateful and you may have bought some loyalty and strengthened your bond with your customer, but is this making the most of the opportunity? Absolutely not.
Promotional business gifts, when carefully selected, can easily achieve the same benefit in terms of strengthening the bond with your customer. In addition to this you can use the recipient (in the nicest possible way!) to advertise your company. This advertising in context can be so inexpensive that you can effectively advertise you company for free. The key to this is firstly the right gift, and then choosing the right recipient so you get this two-fold benefit.
The range of business gifts available is huge and almost unlimited, so much so that the choice can be overwhelming. The first step is to eliminate 90% of the choices by asking yourself, is my logo or are my company details going to be seen by a significant number of people, other than the recipient. If the answer is no, then this is not a gift that will give you your desired two-fold benefit of loyalty and advertising. A perfect example of this type of product is a pen. Now I am not saying a pen is a bad corporate gift, far from it, but in this context we are aiming higher. A pen may well be well received and used for years in the case of a high quality pen, but lets face it, it is never going to significantly raise awareness of your company.
This is easy, pick a gift that will be well received that will also be used in public with your logo there for everyone to see. The idea is not rocket science, but after years in the promotional gift industry I am still surprised by how many companies miss the point. Don't buy for the recipient - buy to benefit your company first and then pick an item you think the recipient will value and use, thus gaining the most benefit for (you guessed it) your company.
There are only a few products that fall into this category, mainly clothing, bags and umbrellas. All three of these products will be used regularly in public and have a huge branding area for your logo. Now here is some free advice, gained from years in the promotions industry - not many people are going to wear a jacket, t-shirt or even a hat with a company logo on. Why? Because you are effectively battling against the recipients preconceived ideas about fashion, brand names, style etc. Whatever the company, if they are not associated with clothing and fashion then the best you can hope for is wearing it very occasionally and usually not in public. This leaves us with bags and umbrellas. Bags is a very broad category so if we dismiss rucksacks, sports bags etc for the same reason as we have eliminated clothing, put bluntly do you choose a Nike bag or a Pot Noodle bag or a Brenda's Bakery rucksack? I rest my case! Now shopping bags are a different story entirely as people are not so sensitive about the branding and do not see them as a fashion item. The only negative in this context of the cotton/jute or reusable shopping bag is that many people will not use it whilst in a busy environment. From supermarket to car boot is pretty standard.
Corporate Umbrellas! Huge print area, used in busy public areas, not seen as a fashion item to the extent clothing is and crucially not too expensive to give as a gift that will be used for years. Free advertising and a happy grateful customer.
Promotional Umbrellas based in Manchester is the company I would recommend. Browse their excellent online store here Corporate Umbrellas Whilst many promotional companies offering printed umbrellas are re-sellers, Promotional Umbrellas print in-house and therefore offer a broader range at better prices. The service is fantastic, as it their product and market knowledge. The key to gifting branded umbrellas is giving the recipient an umbrella they will keep, and if they already own an umbrella, replace it with yours. The selection of the right umbrellas for your company and recipients, branded in the best possible way is not easy. The required experience and enthusiasm is available at Promotional Umbrellas.