Why are we giving gifts to others? Probably because we want to show our appreciation, say thank you, let them know that we care, or even make them like us better. It is universally true for individuals as well as for businesses. In the business setting, gifts can be an essential instrument for winning client loyalty, making employees your business’s best advocates, or moving a needle on a tough project. Gifting experiences instead of material gifts takes the conversation to a whole new level.
Neuroscientists and business journals have already written on the subject and proved that, with all else being equal, experiences create a longer-lasting sense of happiness. Especially these days when we are so deprived of fun outings because of the global pandemic. But even before that, Experience Marketing (XM) has proven time and time again that the positive feelings created during the gifted experience become strongly associated with how your giftee perceives your business. This psychological anchor is a strong business tool you can put to use right now.
Here is how to do it.
Gift experiences to your clients to create a positive association with your business
Every good account manager makes sure to keep the track of their clients’ significant dates: personal events, birthdays, company anniversaries, etc. Sending a thank you note for a new order or referral, taking them out to coffee every so often to maintain personal relationships, and sending branded swag as gifts is already a standard and expected behavior. But what if you learn that your client is an amateur but passionate golf player and you give them a private lesson with a highly sawed-after golf coach? Or a cooking class with wine tasting as a wedding anniversary gift for a couple, isn’t it more fun than sending them a gift card to a restaurant? And yes, you can add branded swag appropriate to the experience (i.e. a polo shirt and a glove, an apron, and a set of wooden utensils).
On a personal level, we all know that if someone put so much thought into a gift, and chose to go the extra mile instead of turning to some easy options, then we must mean a lot to that person. Our relationships must have a special value. The feeling of gratitude tends to create a loop of constant return making people want to do nice things for one another. I guarantee that this client will become an evangelist.
Gift experiences to your employees to make them love their job
The best talent deserves recognition. But in a constant grinding routine of busy days, standard ways of showing your appreciation (like gift cards, branded swag, a plack on the wall) become mandarin and uninspiring. The best way to thank your team members is to show them that you care about their personal well-being just as much as you care about their output at work. By gifting them experiences you help them:
- Break the uninspiring routine
- Create a little better work-life balance
- Get more creative (because that’s what stimulated neurotransmitters do!)
People who are treated like this want to do better and advocate for their company. And it is not even about the anticipation of a great reward. It is about a sense of belonging, and being recognized as an individual.
Customer appreciation events
Science says that happiness is stronger when it’s shared with other people. Create a customer appreciation event where all the guests are engaged in a fun, creative activity. Make your team participate – not only will it make them happier but it will also help them build stronger connections with the clients. And of course, make it a fully branded experience by adding apparel, equipment, supplies, and keepsakes with your logo on them.