The Gift of Giving

Who doesn’t like getting presents? Fluid’s MD Miles Lovegrove looks at the difference between handing out free stuff and the concept of giving gifts, and the powerful reactions that can make the difference when dealing with brand relationships...

The Gift of Giving
The Gift of Giving

When signing off the script for our company video, a part of the text got me thinking about how promotional merchandise can work on a subconscious level through the process of giving.

This sentence really stood out to me, and really made me think how this power of giving is an interesting concept - and one that really makes the promotional products industry unique. It’s part of the marketing mix that big brands use to create emotion with their customers. As those who have experienced the power of giving can attest, there is real power and enjoyment from this act of kindness that demonstrates the thought of the giver to those who receive.

Research from the British Promotional Merchandise Association shows 79% of recipients of promotional gifts felt appreciated - a very positive emotion that is highly likely to result in the recipients reciprocating and engaging with a strong bond.

In his book ‘Linchpin’, Seth Godin discusses the powerful culture of gifts. History shows us that the real power used to be about giving and not receiving. It’s more powerful as the givers earn our respect and attention. Large brands can use this philosophy to grow their loyal customers and build a bond between them by giving generously and connecting people to each other. It’s human nature that if someone gives you a gift you feel the need to reciprocate. If someone gives you a gift for no particular reason, then you cannot rest until you give one back.

So, what does this mean for marketing and branded merchandise?

When done properly, gifts work like nothing else. A gift changes everything. It creates a connection between the company and its loyal followers. Customers want to give back, and not just through buying more products and services but through talking about, discussing, and proactively recommending the products or services at every possible opportunity. This is a truly powerful emotion, especially when you think about the number of touchpoints we encounter on a daily basis throughout our lives.

Giving provides stronger social relationships and strengthens the group bonds in which we work. The act of giving provides us with a better way to communicate our feelings, so when it's well thought out, it will be appreciated by the intended recipient. The key is that the gift must be freely and gladly accepted. Sending someone a gift without any real thought isn't a gift, it's marketing. An on-pack promotion is not a gift, it’s marketing. Gifts must be truly given, not given in anticipation of a reciprocation. Are you giving gifts truly and sincerely or just to try and take advantage of your customers?

Sharing gifts is an essential part of your business's success. Most successful companies give a gift. Long gone are the days of benefit to yourself before you offer value to others. In today’s connection economy, the more you share, the richer you are. Your customers should be the people you empower to help them get better results and to aid in their successes. The more gifts you give to empower them the better. Their success is your success.

The people you connect with on social media who like and share your posts will become customers and brand advocates. The more you engage and share, the more positive impact you will create. And the more impact you make will ensure the more you will grow and evolve. 

Plus, giving a merchandise gift feels good! Choose gifts that your clients or prospects will appreciate, and they'll certainly appreciate you too.

Here are some examples of companies already doing this online:

Is this generous or stupid? Personally I feel that the time and effort spent choosing the right promotional product for your customers is invaluable. It is priceless. The gift of time and details can really strengthen the bond with your customers and if done well your customers will become loyal brand advocates and will enjoy using the free products even more.  

Fluid Branding is an advocate of this approach, not only with our customer friends through our creative packs but also with our employee family as well through our new starter packs.

Branded Merchandise takes time and effort to prepare, and thought to deliver the correct message to your intended audience. However, the long term benefits of building these bonds with customers can last a lifetime.