Business Gift Buyers: Asking the 5 Ws
Gift-giving, whether it is business-to-business or company-to-employee is a large opportunity in the promotional products industry. In order to get the best return on your time, you need to know your buyers. Taking a moment to ask, “Who buys business gifts?” and “What type of gifts are they likely to buy?” is an important start. When do they start shopping? Why are they purchasing a gift? Where are they going to buy? Recognizing the buyer’s and industry’s thoughts on these five simple questions can help you provide your customers what they are looking for.
Eight out of ten business organizations give business gifts. The buyers of these gifts understand that there are benefits to using promotional products. However, you need to ask yourself, “Who are the best prospects?” and “Whom in the company should I be talking to?”
PPAI research shows that the healthcare industry (including pharmaceuticals) allocates the largest portion of its advertising and promotions budget to promotional products. Financial services and manufacturing are also heavy hitters. The question of who is buying what type of gifts is a great opportunity to touch base with your vendors. Many vendors and suppliers do their research; they want to know who is buying their products, and they are willing to share that knowledge because it can point new sales in their direction. Maple Ridge Farms offers distributors our White Paper, a tool to help our distributors focus on companies that have a track record for purchasing food gifts. Check with your suppliers for their current market research.
There is a second part to the “Who?” question. Once you understand which industries are likely to purchase business gifts in addition to their other promotional products, you need to know whom to talk to regarding their needs. A 2012 survey by Incentive Magazine reveals that to land those accounts you have to “reach the C-suite.” More than one-third of their respondents (potential buyers) said that the CEOs, COOs, or CMOs handle their promotional programs. This hasn’t changed over the years. The PPAI research also shows that senior-level management is most often the decision maker, followed by sales and marketing teams. Keeping an eye on who makes the final decision can help to keep the project on track and heading in the right direction.
The most common answer to this question is to say, “Thank You.” Business gift-giving shows appreciation to both customers and employees. Business gifts are also an important tool used in building goodwill, developing new business, and recognizing performance and longevity. Knowing what your customer is trying to say will help you present them with the best options.
Most end buyers define a business gift in the same way we as suppliers and distributors: logoed, personal-use products gifted to create positive interaction with customers and employees. The Incentive Magazine survey shows that apparel and food/beverage gifts remain the most popular, followed closely by electronics (under $100) and desktop and office accessories. It also indicates that price point and perceived value are usually the driving factors influencing their product selections.
The most popular time to give business gifts remains during the fourth-quarter holiday season, although special occasions and events are also prevalent. According to a PPAI survey, nearly one-third of buyers surveyed reported ordering their year-end business gifts by November 1st. Often, the larger the company, the earlier they start planning for their fourth-quarter gift programs. Here at Maple Ridge Farms, we have seen a trending timeline over the years when it comes to the year-end holiday rush, and have put together a Marketing Calendar that can be very helpful to those trying to capture a larger portion of those sales.
They are coming to you, the distributors. The PPAI surveys and research reveal that business gift buyers are going to their promotional products distributors to meet their gifting needs, more than any other source. On an interesting note, those buyers who only purchase through promotional product distributors state that they work with two to five distributors for all of their needs. Don’t leave your sales to chance. Like veteran distributor Don Edwards’s 3-Foot Marketing Plan states: “Whenever you are within three feet of a prospect, hand them a catalog!” Remind them that you are their best source for business gift solutions.
In order to become and remain one of their go-to business gift providers, it’s important to know who is looking for what. Ask yourself why are they looking to purchase business gifts, and when are they likely to start the search. These simple questions can help you to address your buyer’s concerns, draw in new business, and keep them coming to you for their business gift needs!