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What gift giving strategies actually get modern clients’ attention?

(Business Marketing) Gift giving is an age-old marketing tactic that most consumers see through, so how do you capture attention and earn referrals in the modern era?

gift wrapped

gift wrapped

Getting attention the right way

In today’s information consumed marketplace, strategic gift giving provides you a unique competitive edge, for those who do it well. Unfortunately, most of the time the money is better spent on the lottery. For instance, I received the following ‘creative’ gifts at a recent conference: a stack of cheap wine (that I can’t carry-on the plane), books a reseller would charge me to give them, an inspirational poster (also can’t carry-on the plane), a chocolate bar with the company logo on it, pens!, and a rock. Yes, I received a rock.

I can empathize. I am a terrible gift giver, or so I hear from my better half. Then I met John Ruhlin, a leading expert in gifting. I know this not just because I’ve seen him speak on the subject, but because my wife received a customized set of Cutco Knives from him. The only mistake John made was that he couldn’t convince my wife the gift was from me.

John got my attention, and now I use the strategy to get others attention, something that has never been more difficult to do. As legendary researcher Herbert Simon wrote in 1971, “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”

The age of attention scarcity

Your customer (like all people) consumes more than three times as much information as people in 1960. You can send email blasts, tweets, Facebook posts, and even put up billboards, but it doesn’t change the simple fact: your customer is unlikely to pay attention to you. We live in an age of attention scarcity.

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Enter gift giving as a strategy. Our brain’s are wired to be attracted to new, novel, and unexpected stimulus. We prefer to focus on experiences that create positive emotional sensation. We love to feel valued. We even feel an obligation to those who give stuff to us.

Gifting done well accomplishes all of these goals. So how do you do it well?

6 tips on gifting effectively

Here are some of the tips I’ve learned from John:

  1. Frequency. While the random gift is appreciated and helpful, the few who really succeed have a plan. They send gifts on an ongoing basis to keep the attention of their key potential customers.
  2. Unique. Your customer has received 14 bottles of wine and 349 boxes of popcorn during the holiday season. Find something different.
  3. Personalized. We respond and pay attention to things that are all about us. I am well aware that marketing should reinforce your brand, but if you don’t make this gift about THEM, then your gift can send the entirely wrong message.
  4. Spousal focused. John became the #1 sales person in Cutco on this principle. The executive whose attention you want is, believe it or not, tired of 75 dollar steaks and expensive scotch. Their spouse is even more tired of it. If you can send something that values the spouse, you get an advocate on your side. There’s no better advocate for you than the person your potential customer is sleeping with.
  5. World Class: People don’t respond to average. If you are going to send cheap or average, just send a personalized card instead.
  6. Shelf-life: One of the key benefits of a strategic gift is that the person thinks about you every time they use it. As amazing as the wonderful chocolates taste, the only lasting reminder of them is on the waistline Buy the gift that lasts and reap the rewards for years to come.

In a world of information overload, gift giving is an excellent route to grab and keep your customer’s attention. Just don’t send me a rock.

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Written By

Curt Steinhorst loves attention. More specifically, he loves understanding attention. How it works. Why it matters. How to get it. As someone who personally deals with ADD, he overcame the unique distractions that today’s technology creates to start a Communications Consultancy, The Promentum Group, and Speakers Bureau, Promentum Speakers, both of which he runs today. Curt’s expertise and communication style has led to more than 75 speaking engagements in the last year to organizations such as GM, Raytheon, Naval Academy, Cadillac, and World Presidents’ Organization.

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