The Ultimate Guide to Corporate Gifting

Corporate gifting is a $242 billion industry known for improving business relationships and engaging employees. A corporate gifting strategy can increase employee retention, elevate brand awareness and boost sales.

The business world has changed, and companies are developing creative corporate gift ideas that differentiate them from the competition and help them achieve strategic objectives. But a misguided attempt at choosing the right corporate gift could end up costing you relationships instead of strengthening them. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about corporate gifting and set you up to execute the perfect strategy.

The Art of Corporate Gifting

Giving or receiving a gift has been a part of human relationships for centuries and creates a feeling of reciprocity and trust — the fundamentals of fruitful business relationships. Corporate gifts can enhance various business relationships, including:

  • Prospects: Corporate gifts can transform prospects into customers. Sending a well-thought-out gift at the right time can motivate prospects to cement their relationship with your business.
  • Customers: It’s cheaper to retain customers than acquire new ones, and 68% of people who received a memorable gift said it strengthened their relationships with the business that gifted them.
  • Employees: Happy and engaged employees are more productive, and corporate gifts are vital to show employees you value them.

Types of Corporate Gifts

Let’s start with the basics of corporate gifting — knowing the types of gifts available and when to give them.

Promotional Gifts

Promotional gifts are part of a strategy to promote your brand. Some gifts serve as marketing collateral, providing information about your offerings and aiming to create a positive first impression. One popular example is branded merchandise, which can help drive your message home.

Branded merchandise can suit many gifting situations, from welcoming a new pet to the family to enriching a work-from-home setup. One of the main benefits of promotional gifts is that people often reuse or wear them in public, increasing the impressions your brand receives. Internally, branded “swag” fosters a sense of camaraderie amongst employees, spreading to customers and stakeholders.

Appreciation Gifts

Appreciation Gifts

A thoughtful gift can show your clients and employees that you appreciate working with them. Appreciation gifts are fantastic for your internal team and clients in the following contexts:

  • Employee recognition: Gifts can recognize hard work, celebrate successes and serve as incentives for attending team-building events.
  • Client appreciation: A corporate gift is a great way to show customers you appreciate their business.

Appreciation gifts are personal. Showing people you’ve taken the time to choose a gift they’ll use can make all the difference. For example, if you have a client who is an avid golfer, consider gifting them something they’ll take out on the course.

Event Gifts

Event gifts are suitable for various occasions throughout the year, such as trade shows and conferences. Your choice of gifts may vary depending on the event, but having a strategy at the ready is an excellent first step in boosting brand awareness and strengthening relationships.

Here are some quick tips for the different events:

  • Trade show giveaways: Your gifts should draw people to your booth and set you apart from the competition. Try to link them to your business offerings, but keep them functional. You can also encourage people to sample your product with gift cards.
  • Conference souvenirs: Giving gifts at conferences is an easy way to make a lasting impression. Depending on your business and the nature of the conference, you have plenty of choices, from branded tote bags to tech accessories and electronics. You can also equip attendees with lanyards and name tags.

Personalized Gifts

Personalized corporate gifts are the ultimate gifting option for creating a connection. You can choose whether to imprint a name, picture or favorite quote, but the main types of personalized gifts include:

  • Customized items: You can customize many standard gifting options, from calendars to duffle bags. The key to making a unique personalized gift is linking it to the recipient’s passions, hobbies or roles. Gifting a personalized business card case to a salesperson or a custom blanket to a remote worker in winter are excellent examples.
  • Handwritten notes and cards: People connect better with gifts when they’re personal and sincere. You can take things further with a personalized, handwritten note or card. A thoughtful message of appreciation shows you’ve taken the time to acknowledge the recipient yourself.

Setting a Budget


Small businesses on a budget have different needs from large multinational operations. A positive return on investment from your corporate giving is essential. Setting a budget before you start gifting means you know how much you have to spend so you can find the most effective gifting alternatives. The following steps will help you determine the appropriate budget for your corporate gifts:

  • List gifting occasions: Set a calendar in advance so you have plenty of time to purchase and plan.
  • Set an overall budget: Set a budget that covers the total amount you can spend. Start with the number of people you plan to buy gifts for, from employees to clients. Assign a budget for each person. For example, if you budget $150 a year for each of the 20 people on your list, your total budget will be $3,000.
  • Quantify the gifts: Determine how many gifts you’ll need per the recipients and events you’re celebrating. For example, if you plan to celebrate five events with your 20 people, you’ll need 100 gifts.
  • Count on extras: Once you have an amount in mind, it’s best practice to add 10%-15% to cover the unexpected. A client may get married, something might get damaged in transit, or you may hire someone new.

Cost-Effective Gifting Strategies for Small Businesses

While corporate gifts should be meaningful and useful, they must also align with your budget for your gifting strategy to be effective. The following ideas make excellent cost-effective gifts for recipients with different roles and preferences:

  • Office-related gifts: These accessories can make people feel like valued team members or remind customers of your offerings during their workday.
  • Travel gifts: Travel gifts are an excellent option at the start of the holidays. They can be simple, cost-effective and thoughtful. They also acknowledge your appreciation outside of a work setting.
  • Experiences: Get creative and think of ways to give people experiences instead of just physical items. You could gift a burger night with a custom gift set or a coffee set for the coffee lover on your team.
  • Health and beauty: Related gifts are always handy for those who love health and fitness. You can take any angle, from caps for runners to personal care items like sunscreen and spa kits.

Identifying the Right Recipients

A corporate gift is only effective if it reaches the right person. Consider what you want to achieve as part of your strategy and what gifts will motivate them to take the desired action.

Targeting Clients and Customers

Thoughtful gifts are an excellent way to enhance your connection with your current customers. Keep the following tips in mind when creating a corporate gifting program for your existing customers:

  • Have a clear goal: Know your ideal outcome before you start gifting so you can choose gifts and times that will yield maximum results.
  • Balance your budget: Your gifts should always have maximum impact while remaining within your budget.
  • Custom gifts: Sending gifts with your corporate brand keeps your business top of mind with your customers.
  • Boost your brand: It should always be clear that a gift comes from you. Branding is essential to connect the item with your business offerings and ensure more impressions as the recipient uses their gift.

Employee Gifting Strategies

Your employees are your most valuable asset — engaging them is an excellent strategy to ensure a happy working relationship. A thoughtful gift is a perfect way to show employees you appreciate their work and value them personally.

You can create an employee gifting strategy in several ways, but the most common include:

  • Recognize milestones and achievements: Celebrate with your employees and acknowledge their hard work with well-timed gifts, whether it’s a life milestone like a wedding or a work achievement like getting a promotion.
  • Celebrate with holiday and year-end gifts: The holidays or the end of a successful year is the perfect time to acknowledge everything you achieved as a team.

Vendor and Partner Appreciation

A corporate gifting strategy is also an excellent way to show your partners and vendors how much you appreciate your business relationships. You can use these gifts to celebrate the end of the year, your anniversary working together or important personal milestones. Solidify your business relationship and set the tone for upcoming projects with thoughtful and valuable branded gifts.

Prospective Clients and Leads

Creating reciprocity is essential in new relationships, and making a prospecting gift part of the journey can result in a positive introduction to your brand. Like all corporate gifting, the choice of gift is yours, but prospecting gift ideas could include:

  • A small branded item to thank the person for their time.
  • A swag item to strengthen the connection.
  • A welcome package after closing a sale.
  • writing gift set to take notes in your first meeting.
  • A coffee mug or coffee gift card to accompany an online meetup.

Personalizing Gifts for Each Recipient

Personalizing your corporate gifts is a powerful way to make you stand out in people’s minds. It shows you’ve taken the extra time to understand your recipients and their preferences. This creates a more meaningful experience and strengthens the connection with your brand.

You can personalize gifts in many ways. For example, depending on your budget, you could engrave someone’s name on an item or print a personalized shirt. If your budget doesn’t allow for this level of personalization, never underestimate the effect of a handwritten note or memorable experience.

Choosing the Perfect Gifts

With so many options to choose from, finding the perfect gift can be a challenge. Keep the following factors in mind to narrow down your options.

Recipient Preferences

Recipient Preferences

Take the time to research the recipient’s preferences. You can check their social media to see if that gives you any information about their hobbies or get hold of a colleague to find out what kind of gifts the person would appreciate.

Corporate Culture

Your corporate gifts should always reflect your company culture. Every gift you give is an opportunity to connect with the recipient and communicate why your business is the best choice for them. What does your company stand for? What do you pride yourselves on? The answers to these questions can inform your gift choices. If your business is very tech-forward, for example, tech-based gifts represent who you are as a business.

Ethical and Sustainable Gifts

Sustainability is a growing concern among many industries, and the organizations using sustainable options are leading in attracting and retaining customers. Ethically sourced, sustainable gifts have significant marketing benefits. People prefer to align with a brand that prioritizes sustainability.

In addition, 64% of consumers want to buy sustainable products, so it makes sense that they would appreciate them as gifts. With sustainable corporate gifting options, you can increase sales and build trust with your current clients.

Customizing Corporate Gifts


Customized gifts add an extra layer of care, and you can tailor them to specific themes and personality traits for maximum impact. You have several options to make your corporate gift stand out:

  • Personalization: Add someone’s name or a special photograph to a mug or give a customized award to an employee who went the extra mile.
  • Branding and logo placement: Corporate gifts should boost brand awareness but not appear like a marketing gimmick. Stuffing your logo and branding into every available space can make the recipient feel less valued. Your gift should be a thoughtful and subtle representation of your brand.
  • Tailored gifts: Gifts tailored to specific themes or occasions can create lasting memories. Consider ringing in the new year with a unique theme or link your gifts to an event, like a charity golf day.

Thoughtful customization has a far more significant impact than generic corporate gifts. It’s a delicate balance between promoting your product, evoking emotions in the recipient and achieving the desired response, whether a new client, an employee who feels valued or solidifying an existing relationship.

Corporate Gifting Etiquette

Ethical considerations are vital in successful corporate gifting, and appropriate etiquette is essential in achieving the desired results. Consider the following points to ensure you adhere to corporate gifting best practices:

  • Timing: Try and align gifts with the intended occasions, such as celebrating the closing of a deal, business events or special occasions. Ensure your gift can never be construed as a bribe — a gift with the expectation that someone will return goods or services in exchange. Avoid gifting during tenders, contract negotiations and disputes.
  • Cultural and religious considerations: Consider the culture and religion of your recipient. For example, sending a Christmas gift to someone who doesn’t celebrate the holiday might be insensitive. Also, research any dietary restrictions or preferences when gifting food items.
  • Presentation and delivery: How you present your gifts is essential to completing the recipient’s experience. Spend some extra time on the presentation and ensure it reflects your brand and the quality of your work. The delivery must occur at an appropriate place and time.
  • Ethical considerations: Keep your gifts appropriate and avoid making them too lavish, which might make the recipient feel awkward. Gifting public officials is often considered inappropriate, especially if the gift is high value. Again, ensure your gift cannot be perceived as bribery and avoid risky humor or political gifts. Consider sustainable gifting to ensure you work with the recipient’s values.

Gifting Trends and Innovations


Corporate gifting is all about making your brand stand out among competitors, so staying ahead of the current trends is essential. If you know what everyone else is doing, you can identify a different approach or add to popular gifting options. Hence, you’re confident your gift is the one that stands out.

Some current trends in corporate gifting include:

  • Technology and digital gifting: Technology is a part of everyone’s lives, and you can celebrate technological innovations with related gifts. Digital gifting is also popular, like virtual workshops, e-vouchers and online subscriptions.
  • Sustainability and eco-friendly gifting: Growing awareness of environmental issues means you can make a positive impression with eco-friendly gift options.

The future of corporate gifting is leaning toward sustainable and personalized experiences. The rapid advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) may lead to choosing gifts based on algorithms that understand the recipient’s preferences and mood by analyzing their behaviors, allowing you to make the gifting experience more meaningful.

Measuring the Impact of Corporate Gifting

Corporate gifting must have a measurable impact to be practical. It should form part of a strategy that boosts sales and drives your business forward. Consider the following metrics to measure the impact of your gifting plan:

  • Return on investment: There may not be a concrete way to measure your return when gifting gifts to employees, since getting something in return isn’t exactly how gifting works. However, you can look at stats like how many employees stay with the team and track more abstract metrics like employee happiness. However, you can track your return when trying to convert potential clients. Calculate the amount you spent on gifts, divided by the profits from new clients. Multiply this number by 100.
  • Cost per conversion: This metric tells you how much it costs to convert a prospect with corporate gifting. Divide the total cost of gifts sent by the number of prospects converted to customers.
  • Recipient feedback: Ask your recipients how they felt after receiving your gifts. This information can help you identify opportunities to improve your gifting strategy.

Why Corporate Gifting Works

Aside from creating connections, corporate gifting can help you capitalize on market events. Take this example: A Minnesota healthcare company turned a need for hand sanitizer for frontline workers into an effective marketing campaign, helping their community. In a partnership with ePromos, they identified a growing demand for help amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, they found a way to give the community what they needed and boost their brand with a subtle logo on hand sanitizers and guideline magnets illustrating COVID-19 safety protocols.

The above example is just one of thousands of successful corporate gifting campaigns. Many leading companies have corporate gifting programs to enhance relationships and provide a constant reminder of their brand. Receiving gifts and gratitude has a tangible impact on our social, physical and emotional health. Corporate gifts create moments of connection, taking relationships beyond transactional and making them personal. Many industry leaders know this, so they create and budget for detailed gifting campaigns for employees and stakeholders.

Challenges and Pitfalls to Anticipate in Corporate Gifting


A corporate gifting strategy considers potential pitfalls. Dealing with budget constraints is a primary concern for many businesses, and working with the right provider is essential to find what works with your budget and still yield the desired results. Once you have a budget, work with a provider offering gift options for under $10. They will know how to work within a budget and still be effective.

You may have to adjust your budget in challenging times, but gifting can be even more effective in times of change. It shows you’re consistent and still value the people who power your business when circumstances are less than ideal.

Common Gifting Mistakes to Avoid

A simple mistake can detract from your hard work. Try to avoid these common mistakes for a successful gifting campaign:

  • Impractical gifts: While gifts should always be original, they should be helpful, too. Find the right balance between functional and imaginative.
  • Impersonal gifts: Always add a personal touch to your gifts, even if it’s a handwritten note. Something impersonal comes across more like a marketing gimmick than a genuine gift.
  • Overly personal gifts: A corporate gift is a professional interaction, and making it too personal could offend the recipient. Think about maintaining your professionalism and still being thoughtful and genuine.
  • Timing: If you wait too long to organize your gifts, they may not be ready for an event. It’s also easier to find what you want if you plan.
  • Provider choice: Partnering with an unreliable provider can harm your image. Ensure you work with a trusted business to deliver quality gifts on time.

Elevate Your Corporate Gifting With ePromos Today

Effective corporate gifting can be a challenge. With so many considerations, partnering with the experts is an excellent way to refine your strategy and get the best possible results. We can help you choose the right gifts for your budget with your results in mind. We have numerous options for any occasion, giving you many ideas suited to your culture and values.

Feel free to browse our selection of corporate gifts, or contact us to refine your gifting strategy today!



About Author

Devin Rubink

Devin R.

Reviewed by: Devin R. - SEO Specialist

Devin is an SEO wizard at ePromos as well as an aspiring game show contestant. He can typically be found with his family in the middle of a theme park or camping in the depths of the woods. Devin hopes his addiction to collecting Lego sets will one day fund his retirement.