What Does Your Appreciation Gift Mean To Your Client?

This month, one of the books I read was Give and Take by Adam Grant (great book by the way!). In one of the many great stories he tells throughout the book, Grant talks about shifting our frame of reference to another person’s perspective.  Usually, the person you are talking to, the person you are doing business with, or, his example a recipient of a gift.

“Consider the common dilemma of giving a gift for a wedding or a new baby’s arrival.  When the recipient has created a registry, do you pick something from the registry or send a unique gift?”, Grant writes.

Think about that for a minute.  What would you do in this situation? Or, what have you done in this situation?

I know I choose to purchase a gift from others’ registries because I know that it is a list of items they chose because they wanted or needed those items for their brand new life together.

I also know, from my own personal experience with my wedding that it was nice to receive items we chose because we were already excited about owning the items on our list we made.

Plus, it showed me our hard work paid off!  My husband and I spent a lot of time going through stores and online catalogs to add the things we would want and need.  It was challenging at times because we expected that we would keep these items for many years after our wedding so the pressure was on (at least for me) to chose items I could imagine myself using in 10+ years!

Others I know, decide to stray from registries and lists to purchase unique gifts, gifts they believe the person with the registry missed or gifts that they believe would be useful to the recipient.

In Give and Take, Grant tells a story about how his wife was purchasing a wedding gift for their friends and decided it was “more thoughtful and considerate to find something that wasn’t on their registry”.

Grant found this confusing because for their wedding his wife preferred to receive registry gifts. “Knowing that she preferred the registry gift when she was the recipient, why did she opt for a unique gift when she was in the giving role?”

(Turns out his wife knew their friends would love her gift because “they just didn’t know such an exquisite gift existed,” Grant writes. “…She was right.”.)

To compliment his story Grant included a case study:

To get to the bottom of this puzzle, researchers Francesca Gino of Harvard and Frank Flynn of Stanford examined how senders and receivers react to registry gifts and unique gifts. They found that senders consistently underestimated how much recipients appreciated registry gifts. In one experiment, they recruited ninety people to either give or receive a gift from Amazon.com. The receivers had twenty-four hours to create a wish list of ten products in the price range of twenty to thirty dollars. The senders accessed the wish lists and were randomly assigned to either choose a registry gift (from the list) or a unique gift (an idea of their own).

The senders expected that the recipients would appreciate the unique gift as somewhat more thoughtful and personal. In fact, the opposite was true. The recipients reported significantly greater appreciation of the registry gifts than the unique gifts. The same patterns emerged with friends giving and receiving wedding gifts and birthday gifts.The senders preferred to give unique gifts, but the recipients actually preferred the gifts they solicited on their registries and wish lists.

Why? Research shows that when we take others’ perspectives, we tend to stay within our own frames of reference, asking “How would I feel in this situation?” When we’re receiving a gift, we imagine the joy that we would experience in receiving gifts that we’re selecting. But this isn’t the same joy that the recipient will experience, because the recipient has a different set of preferences.

The example Grant gave dealt with personal situations.  In relation to your business, this is why it is important to know your audience.  Especially, when it comes time to send appreciation gifts!  You don’t want to give a prospect something they won’t really use, something they will throw away or give to someone else.

gift-bagsNow, I am confident your clients do not have a wish list of gifts they would like to receive from companies they do business with that want to show thanks (unless you ask them what they want to receive so you can thank them for doing business with you, I guess that can work!).

However, you do have the ability to get to know your audience to find out their likes and dislikes, their hobbies, special interests, whatever the case may be.  Once you know this information, it will be easier to gift something that is meaningful to them and you can customize it to them (instead of you) to make it more unique and personal.

When giving appreciation gifts, always put yourself in your customer’s shoes.  Think of it from their perspective.

Think of it this way: when you are giving away a gift show you appreciate their business, do you think your clients would love receiving a gift from you with your logo on it (something you can buy in bulk and give to many other people)?  Or, would they like a personalized gift with their name on it (something unique you can purchase and customize it to them)?

What do you think?

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