Thursday, April 28, 2011

Office- Office: Gifting

The most understated (supposedly) of all marketing tools is corporate gifting. “See we are not trying to sell anything”, says the boss with glee. He means – No PPT, No dark suit that has gone tight in the wrong place, No stuttering in front of audience, No artificial smile….In short, no preparation needed.

Then how come one spends more time (and effort) on corporate gifting than when actually trying to sell something? Call it lack of protocol to define what constitutes an appropriate gift or simply Murphy’s Law, corporate gifting is more time consuming that regular gifting.

The intent of any gift is the expectation of a return gift. You gift someone on their birthday, you expect them to return the favor on your birthday. What you get is usually as good (or bad) as what you gave. Apply that to business and you have a complex picture in front of you.

Should I gift a diary? Naah, too PSU. What about a set of pens engraved with the company logo? Too archaic (and cheap). A digital photo frame? Too expensive (we don’t want to be seen as bribing the customer). Golf balls? Balls to You! How many people play golf in India?!. Expensive wine? The recipient’s family may not approve. Leather organizer? Nope. It will be sold in the black market or worse still handed down to the secretary or school going child. Chocolates? Are you kidding me? Do you want to be responsible for giving people Diabetes? (please note, it is another matter that chocolate cannot “give” diabetes. But that is how much IQ your average marketing boss has). A USB drive? No Way! What then will we hand out during conferences? A simple hand written greeting card? Eh? Oh! Uh!..Ahem.. The last time I wrote a sentence was in class 12……….

In normal circumstances one would be perfectly delighted to receive any of the above gifts. But the corporate world makes you believe otherwise. So what do we gift? Cuff Links (when half the world doesn’t wear suitable shirts), gift vouchers from the newest mall (which is incidentally outside the city limits and has little parking space), Key chains (which always end up looking tacky no matter how much their MRP), Mousepads (They haven’t heard of touch navigators), cake (perhaps they assume chocolate cake does less damage than chocolate bars), jute bags (eco friendly, who cares how ragged they look) and desk clocks (Yawn.)

So what do you get in return? Nothing. Why? Because everything you gifted was practically useless. What’s worse, your gift can’t even be re-gifted, thanks to the not-so-discreet company logo.

What should the smart marketer do? Convince the boss that is it better to sell the product.