Giving a gift on a personal level is a simple and selfless act, for many people, that usually has no motivation behind it. In the corporate world however, gifts are sometimes given with an intention, either to retain an existing client, entice new clients or inspire some kind of brand loyalty. This is why, in many businesses, a set of ethics usually govern the process and a certain unspoken etiquette is expected when giving gifts to clients or consumers.
In terms of ethics, you need to know that the giving of corporate gifts to any decision-makers when bidding for a job is a big no-no. This could be seen to constitute bribery and certainly would not bode well for your company’s reputation. Similarly, lavish gifts such as expensive holidays, gold jewellery and electronics such as laptops and tablets should not be given to clients with the exception of a few rare occurrences. SARS does allow you to deduct the cost of certain promotional gifts, but they will not let you deduct the cost of a boat, for example. Ethically speaking, you should discuss with each individual client the ethics of their business in terms of gift giving, as this will dictate how, and when, it is appropriate to give gifts.
In terms of the etiquette governing the process, there are a few questions you can always ask yourself to ensure you don’t go overboard. First, consider the question, “Is this appropriate?” If you give a gift that suits the client’s needs and the occasion, such as a themed pen on Father’s Day, propriety is covered. Next, consider the gift’s intention. What do you want the gift to mean? If the answer is, “I want this client to give me more money,” you are on the wrong track. This may be a goal for your business in the long-term, but if this is obvious to your client, they will view you in a poor light.
Don’t forget about timing when you give gifts. Giving a branded packet of sweets to a client at any time of the year is acceptable. Giving a Christmas tree is not. Be sure you know the occasion you want to celebrate with your client, as this will dictate the type of gift you give, as well as assuring the client you have no ulterior motives. Finally, consider customisation. Your corporate gifts should be a reflection of your business, and serve as top-of-mind tools that remind the receiver of your business. Giving away something that is not branded is a pretty obvious waste of money. When purchasing promotional gifts, speak to the experts in the field, Ambella, and get a few industry insights about the ethics and etiquette of the process from the people in-the-know.