CRM — if you've done any research on marketing lately, you already know that it stands for Customer Relationship Management. Also, you probably already know that good CRM involves knowing what your customers need and want and interacting with them in a way that reflects and honors their values. One thing that often gets lost in discussions of CRM, however, is that relationships with your customers really start at the other end. They begin with the values that your company holds dear, and how infuse those values into every interaction with your clients and customers.
Why Client Gifts Are Important
Client gifts are an essential part of CRM. They're a way to let your clients and customers know that you value them and their business. The gifts you choose are also a way to reflect the values of your company. From imprinted pens to high-end client gifts like wine subscriptions and artwork, the tokens of appreciation you send to clients send definitive messages about who you are and what your company believes is important. Those messages include:
—We value your business. The more thought you put into choosing corporate gifts, the more they'll reflect the importance you place on the relationship between you and your clients. A high-quality gift clearly communicates that you place a lot of value on pleasing your customer.
—We know you. When you choose a gift that you know your customers will appreciate, you're subtly letting them know that you understand what they like and what they value.
—We care about these things. Finally, the gift you choose will inevitably show the values that your company considers important. If your company is passionate about specific social causes, the client gifts you choose can reflect that and bring even more attention to your commitment to doing good with your work.
That last point is especially important, because it's a way to make your gifts — whether for holiday gifting or for marking occasions throughout the year — do double duty. When you choose gifts from companies that give back, or gifts that benefit the causes your company cares about, you're not only deepening the relationship with your customer, you're also directly benefiting those causes.
Lastly, the latest research shows that consumers at all levels really do care about the values of the companies with whom they interact. A report from Accenture Strategies notes that, across all age groups, consumers care a great deal about what companies say and how they act. More than ever, they notice and appreciate companies that send clear messages about their values.
Three Ways to Shop Your Values in Corporate Gifts
Shopping your values may seem complicated, but it really doesn't have to be. Whether you're a small, one-person operation or a larger enterprise-level development, there are a few things you can do to help your employees, boards and partners make client and employee gift choices that reflect your company's values.
Establish a Corporate Gift Policy
Corporate gift policies help a company establish the types and value of gifts that they can give or receive as part of customer relationship management. For most companies, that means establishing a threshold — which could be as low as no gifting allowed — to help avoid the impression of bribery and other untoward ways of winning business. But your company can also use its gift policy to encourage giving gifts that align with its core values and discourage choosing gifts that conflict with them. A business inspired by ecological responsibility, for example, may encourage giving gifts that are ecologically sound. (Yes, blown glass is a sound ecological choice, in case you were wondering.)
Buy Gifts from Companies that Give Back
More and more companies are choosing to give back to their communities in various ways. Cheryl Saban Glass, for example, donates a portion of its profits to local organizations that support women, children and other vulnerable people. Consider establishing a directory of local companies that help support community organizations — particularly those that align with your company's own values — so you'll have a ready go-to resource when it's time to start shopping for client gifts.
Support Small Local Businesses
One way to put your company's values into practice is to directly support local businesses, particularly those owned by women, people of color or other marginalized groups. When you act locally, you help build a stronger community, which is an awesome and often overlooked way to give back and practice socially responsible buying.
So, as you plan your company's holiday gift list, start from your company's core values. Choosing gifts aligned with those values will help spread joy, do good and send a clear message that your company doesn't just talk about values, it lives them.