In my latest video, I break down how swimming teaches us the importance of these relationship-building efforts and the specifics of what we as leaders need to nurture with our teams.
In an effort to simplify the decision-making process, we're sharing some of the trends we've seen with gifting over the years. We're even sharing our best seller and why that gift had such success.
Last year we had the opportunity to work with one of our clients in the travel and tourism space to design an experience that delivered their highest engagement yet.
Holiday appreciation gifts are a time-honored tradition that persists in business, almost as much as in personal life. And we should know, it often feels like we don’t leave the office in the last quarter of the year! Countless business leaders understand the power of a meaningful token of their appreciation. These genuine gestures to clients, prospects, employees, and strategic partners also serve the purpose of deepening a relationship and staying top of mind in a fast-paced digital world.
While we certainly frequent these traditional holiday seasons for our own gifting, as experts in strategic gifting, we want to mention an overlooked powerful twist to holiday appreciation - celebrating holidays outside of the traditional gift-giving periods of Christmas and Thanksgiving. Leveraging lesser-known holidays can offer a unique opportunity to distinguish your brand from the crowd and showcase some of your personality in the process.
While some of these may seem obvious, there is a good reason that nontraditional holidays lead to cultivation of a relationship with strong emotional connections for your brand. And it’s these emotional connections that convert more, create loyalty, and will earn you frequent word of mouth.
Thoughtful: Gifting on an unconventional holiday demonstrates thoughtfulness. You clearly put in extra effort for a holiday that isn’t largely celebrated and that makes an impact. It shows that you value the relationship and want to go the extra mile with a memorable gesture.
Less Competition: This is an obvious benefit of staying away from the major gifting holidays. Clients and employees are already inundated with gifts from various sources. By choosing a lesser-known holiday, you can ensure your gift will be a surprise (bonus points in strategic gifting!) and it will receive undivided attention.
Brand Differentiation: Gifting on an “off season” holiday allows your brand to differentiate itself from competitors. This is your chance to showcase your brand’s personality by relating the holiday to your message in a creative way. This sets up a strong association between your brand and the holiday going forward (“remember that one time…”), and it leads to increased brand recall.
Personalization: Celebrating a lesser-known holiday allows you to personalize your gifts according to the specific occasion. This personalization makes the recipient feel seen and understood, which is required for long-lasting relationships. It also enhances the perceived value of the gift and the value they believe you associate with them.
Once people acknowledge that the year-end holiday gifting is not their preference, they typically struggle to define what might make more sense. And probably because there is no wrong way to answer that. The key to successful business gifting is to make sure it will resonate with your recipient while aligning with your brand. What follows are some tips to help your team with the decision-making process.
Highlight Your Brand Values: Start by identifying your brand's core values and principles. These are probably already guiding some of the relationship building you do today, so it only makes sense to have them front and center for this exercise.
Keep Your Brand Personality in Mind: Make sure you also consider your brand's mission, values, and unique selling points. Your brand personality could be playful, sophisticated, innovative, or any combination of traits. Understanding this will guide the tone and style you incorporate into your touchpoint.
Define the Experience Objectives: Determine what you want to achieve with this year’s appreciation. Are you aiming to bring together community, encourage engagement, or simply express your gratitude? Once you know your objectives, you can tailor the touchpoint to meet them.
Remember the Feelings: The final thing your team should discuss ahead of time is – How do you want them to feel when they receive this touchpoint? Do you want them to be excited about you? Do you want them to feel relaxed and know they’re taken care of? Make sure you take a minute to align these feelings before you move into the selection and design steps.
Now that your team has some guidelines for decision-making, you’ll want to come up with a list of holidays that might fit your needs. And since there are endless options to find a holiday suitable for your brand, we offer a few categories to consider:
Industry-Specific Holidays: Are there holidays that are specific to your industry or brand? For example, if you're a tech company, National Technology Day could be an appropriate choice.
Cultural Holidays: Embracing the diverse backgrounds of your own family, team, clients or supporting business partners could also be a great option and one that may resonate with them. Maybe you alternate through a variety of cultures and share personal stories as you do. However, one word of advice - make sure to do your research to ensure the celebration is respectful and appropriate.
Obscure Holidays: There are plenty of social or quirky holidays that could align with your brand's personality. For example, World Kindness Day could be a thing that The Expressory chooses one year because it relates to what we do as a company.
Customized Holidays: Maybe this is coming from my gifted schooling background, but I’m all about creating your own brand-specific holiday (we were always creating something in the gifted program!) Perhaps you design a holiday to celebrate a milestone, product launch, or your company’s anniversary. Let your team run with this one and see what kind of ideas come up.
If you’re still spinning, you can even check a list of holidays, by month, that we created to help guide our clients. As a bonus, we’ve even done the legwork to add potential themes and gift ideas. Download here.
Now that you have your list and your guidelines, it’s time to put it all together to create the perfect touchpoint to represent your appreciation.
Create a Theme or Tell a Story: Looking at the lists of holidays you came up with and knowing your guidelines, which of these holidays has the potential for the best theme or story you could develop? For instance, if your company has brand values about sustainability, Earth Day might present the strongest theme for you to use to create your experience. You can tie in stories about the work your company has done related to these efforts as well – give the recipients some additional background on all the good you’re doing.
Select the Components for this Touchpoint: Once you know the holiday, it’s time to design the details. What will you be including in the package? What supports the theme and story in a way that makes the overall experience meaningful for the recipient? This is your opportunity to be creative!
Engage the Senses: Think about ways to incorporate multiple senses. If this is a package related to rest or relaxation, think about fragrances that embody those feelings. Foods that help calm. Textures that are smooth to the touch. And of course – How you package it all together will also come into play.
Interactive Activities: Consider developing an experience that encourages community, gathering or engagement with others to take advantage of the gift.
Personalized Touches: Obviously, every item you send should have a handwritten message at a minimum to feel personally engaging to the recipient. Sometimes the message you write is enough of a story alone to feel meaningful.
Encourage Sharing: As you are designing your experience, consider ways to encourage sharing without having to outright ask for it. If there is an activity or something for the recipient to create, you can always mention “we can’t wait to see what you come up with” and this cues the recipient to share in a way they are comfortable. This not only increases brand visibility but also helps extend the experience to a wider audience.
Remember, designing a touchpoint for a holiday that reflects your brand personality is about creating authentic and memorable moments that are going to resonate with your audience. You’re giving them something to relate to and something that reminds them why they just love being connected to you. It’s something that will leave a lasting impression, reinforce your brand, and foster deeper connections with the people that matter to your business.
Designing unique, unexpected experiences provide some of the best opportunities to stand out and it’s the core of the work we do at The Expressory. If you need additional help with the holiday planning, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can join us at one of our upcoming community Q&As to discuss ideas and get your questions answered. Or you can schedule some time to talk with us directly about what strategy makes the most sense for your brand.