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Tis the season for brand gift-giving and to the smartest marketer goes the spoils (also known as tangible results). While gift-giving is a great way to reconnect, we often miss the mark on how it furthers our organizational goals. Warm fuzzies and the offhand “thank you for the gift!” should not be objective. Gift-giving campaigns, like any marketing initiative, should be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based), which requires thoughtful planning and skillful execution. Here are five tips to crush your gift-giving campaign goals:

Build An Actionable And Manageable Plan

Before you start writing checks for pretty gifts like a desperate Saint Nick, think about what you want to achieve. What are the business challenges that keep you up at night? What growth opportunities already exist and how can you fully take advantage? With COVID-19 disrupting the well-laid plans of many, a gift-giving campaign could be the perfect way for your organization to recover and move the needle on some long-term goals.

So where do you start? It’s easy to get caught up in the shiny possibilities, going for the lofty goals like a cat reaching for the brightest ornament on the tree. Resist this. Choose an objective that can be easily executed and analyzed within a short timeframe, so you can determine quickly if the campaign is effective or not. Determine your key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure based on the objective. For example, if the goal of your gift-giving campaign is to drive sales, tracking your leads to conversion rates would provide a clear understanding of your campaign’s success.

One of the easiest options is to use a QR code, imprinted on the product or on an insert that comes with the gift. You can also send a follow-up email with a custom link. Make sure to prompt the recipient to DO something (e.g. Get 20% by confirming you received your gift). A clever way to do this is to send a postcard first that asks them to claim their free gift. This allows you not only to track engagement but also ensures those who want your gift receive it.

Avoid Gimmicks & Try Honesty

Gimmicks are eye-catching and can be quite memorable (and who doesn’t want to be remembered?). However, they are also expected, which makes them easy to ignore. And even if you manage to resonate with some of your target markets, the results with be short-lived. You have to give a reason to invest in your organization and a flashy marketing ploy is not going to cut it.

This year has also been unprecedented, full of natural disasters and civil unrest with the pandemic as a backdrop. People want truth and authenticity, and if you fail to deliver that, they will move on. And during a time of such uncertainty, you cannot afford to lose the attention of your market. Reel them in with honest, straightforward language and a call to action that centers their needs. Rather than ask for a buy or sign up, encourage the recipient to connect or share their experience.

Focusing on what value your organization can add for the recipient is the best way to keep you honest. This is where your buyer persona comes in, which should outline how your target market ticks ( if you don’t have one, Hubspot has a handy persona creator that we like to get you started). The goal is to make the recipient feel genuinely supported. Make this an opportunity to acknowledge the struggles of this year and how your organization can lighten the load.

Align Gift With Brand Identity

Resist the urge to go with the flashiest, most lavish gift. For one, the costs will quickly outweigh the results. Secondly, if you are getting products for corporate clients, there are often limits on what type of gifts they can accept. Typically you are safe with items valued under $15 but check with the company if you are concerned.

Beyond the cost aspect, the entire point of doing a gift campaign is to let your target market know what your organization is about. The product you choose should reflect your brand identity and drive your organization’s mission. One of our clients, Georgia College & State University, operates under the mission “Think Independently. Lead Creatively.” So when their student success center needed gifts, they chose a product that was a creative spin on a classic. The Campfire Mug, ceramic with a retro granite design that is eye-catching and on-trend, complimented the college’s dynamic style of learning. And it definitely was a hit with the students – the mug has been purchased repeatedly by the center.

Another aspect to consider is the tumultous nature of 2020, leading many us to just want comfort. Products that can provide this will always be winners. This includes food gifts, games, drinkware, apparel – essentially anything you can wrap yourself in and disappear (metaphorically, of course). And if you need help determining what makes sense for you, Choice Premiums’s staff are branding experts – we got you covered.

Personalize, Personalize, Personalize

Personalize. Ninety-six percent of marketers say that personalization advances their customer relationships, and a gift campaign provides the perfect opportunity to do just that. Packaging, inserts, calls to action, and of course, the product itself can all be individually personalized to suit the recipient.

One of our favorite campaigns was for Duck River Electric, an electric cooperative. The co-op needed a way to show their employees some love and chose the Urban Peak Camber Trail Tumbler as a gift. This was a great option not only because of the high utility (48% of people keep gifts for this reason) and the optimal price point (under $20), but it included free personalization. Each tumbler was imprinted with the name of the employee. And as research shows, we love items that have our name – doesn’t get more personal than that.

Your follow-up strategy is another excellent opportunity to personalize. Rather than send a generic email to recipients, schedule a call or video chat, and ask for feedback. Ask questions about how their year has been and what you can do to help. Be genuine and helpful. Sincere, direct contact is often the difference between gaining or losing a customer.

Create An Unboxing Experience

Unboxing isn’t just for beauty brands and ASMR videos. Memorable packaging elevates any gift-giving campaign as well as your organization. A perfectly wrapped gift increases the perceived value, making an excellent first impression. You also generate genuine excitement about your gift-there is something special about having to open a package for a big reveal.

Up the ante by asking recipients to share a photo or video of them unboxing your gift. It’s a great way to generate buzz about your brand and deepen your customer relationships. Given our collective love of unboxing videos, this strategy brings joy that reaches beyond your gift-giving campaign. It celebrates your clients and the joy of giving. What could be better than seeing someone’s face light up from a gift you gave them?

These are just a few tips to help you increase the impact of your gift-giving campaign. However you decide to build your campaign, remember to always center the recipient. Their satisfaction is the only metric that truly matters.

CTA for Choice Gifts Holiday Guide, great for building a gift-giving campaign.

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