Christmas is just as important in business as it is in private, as this is when partners can thank each other for their year-round work. In the B2B world, at least. For larger, more professional companies, the planning for holiday gifts starts months before the end of the year, with project managers organising intricate logistics around it. This year, however, like everything else, it will not be the same as it was before. Businesspeople are puzzled, mostly about what should and should not be done right now, as we’re not moving beyond a typical year.
The gift’s message
A business gift must have a message. This is a creative challenge for companies every year. The colleagues responsible for the project go to great lengths to come up with a gift that is not stale, one that is unique and matches the corporate image and message. We could say that the task is never easy, as it is not always possible to produce a unique solution, but until 2019, it was only the imagination that limited the possibilities. If a company was dynamic, it certainly needed a creative solution. If someone wanted to express stability to their partner, the gift could by no means be surprising or novel, but rather a well-proven yet high-quality solution. It was such a big challenge that many professional companies did not believe in gift-giving. They sought to maintain such a relationship with the partner during the year that the respect and professional relationship between them would be clear, and they did not think that this should be represented by a gift at the end of the year. And there was some truth in that. There was no unified picture in this regard; rather, the gift or lack thereof revealed the culture of the given company, often the weakness of that culture. But whatever the custom, now, at the end of 2020, pretending nothing happened and continuing the tradition is definitely questionable!
Gift-giving during COVID
Businesses are moving past a challenging year, so you should not be silent. If a partner remains after such a year, they deserve more recognition than usual. If someone has lost a partner because their sector has been affected by the crisis, they may still deserve a gift. Everyone knows that gifts are not given for free. For companies, this is a cost; it can also be called an investment. And we can best see how important a partnership is when it’s harder to “reach into their piggy bank” for costs that are not immediately recoverable. But if we’ve already decided to give a gift, and we already know who we want to thank, then the main question remains: what can we give in 2020? Many people point out that a gift is worth something if it comes from the heart. This, of course, is very true in private, as we are always happier with gifts that are made or bought for us that show that the giver is paying attention to us. Obviously, you can measure all of this via price, and while it’s a nasty thing, a lot of people look at what they receive compared to the giver’s means. If a millionaire uncle sends us some cheap, generic card, we don’t necessarily appreciate it. However, if we know that buying such a card is a big expense for that person, then our attitudes are entirely different. The same is true in business. It is appropriate to give gifts according to the size and success of the company. This statement is even more true than in one’s private. This is because there is one thing that can be expected in business regarding gifts: generosity. And if there were ever a time that could show who is really generous, it’s certainly 2020. That’s when spending hurts more than usual, which is why partners appreciate it more. It can show status. Not only do we need to talk about the importance of customer relationships, but now we can also do concrete things for it. In every sector of the economy, for every clientele, we can find a method to prove that our partners and customers are important to us. Consulting and HR firms see this task as a serious challenge. For them, slipping up in this regard can have grave consequences. However, if we pay attention, it can also bring us serious results. It may not be as important what exactly they see under the tree, but in 2020, it is especially critical that our partners see how much energy and investment we put into their gifts.