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A Guide to Gift Giving for Event Marketers

gift-giving-event-marketersBy John Ruhlin – Founder & CEO, Ruhlin Group.

Experiential marketing is one of the most effective tactics you can use to drive sales and engagement. Whether it’s at a trade show or a launch party event, an experience gives potential customers a chance to engage with your brand in person.

And because 87 percent of consumers have purchased after attending an event, sending prospects home with gifts is a good way to ensure they’ll keep that engagement going long after the event is finished.

When planned and executed appropriately, gift giving is an extremely effective marketing strategy. But if done poorly, it can turn into a big waste of time and money. Bad gift giving for event marketers can even lead to a negative perception of your brand.

If you’re intending to use gifts as a way to amplify the experience of an event, here are four things to keep in mind:

1. Do your research.

On the eve of an event, don’t decide to invest in some branded swag to give away just because you have a little money left over in the budget. Gift giving needs to be a deliberate, calculated decision. The more thought and money you put into the gifts themselves and the way in which they’re delivered, the more likely you are to maximize ROI.

You also need to be sure you’re prepared to deliver enough gifts to your intended recipients. When smartphone maker Xiaomi underestimated the number of fans that would attend the launch event for its new Mi Max in New Delhi this past summer, a shortage of free T-shirts led to a disappointed and unruly crowd. The police had to intervene to settle the matter.

2. Give only the best.

If you decide to give out gifts to complement an event experience, give gifts that people actually want. You invest a lot of time and money into making an event great — whatever gift you give should reflect the quality of that experience.

Oftentimes after an event, you’ll see piles of freebies left behind or thrown away, unwanted by the attendees. As a rule, you should strive to offer gifts that are best in class. If you’re giving away mugs, give away the best mugs your attendees have ever seen. If you’re giving out headphones, choose a unique, world-class brand like LSTN, not some shoddily made knockoffs.

3. Think of the recipient.

A personalized gift is much less likely to end up thrown away or forgotten. Personalization makes the gift about the recipient, not about the event. Make it well-packaged with a handwritten note so it feels like a well-thought-out personal gesture.

For instance, on the second day of a four-day event for top Fortune 500 executives, my team sent each attendee’s spouse a gift with a personalized, handwritten note, thanking them for allowing the attendee to take time away from family to attend the event. The reactions were amazing. Attention to detail makes any gift better, and it’s evident not just in the gift itself, but also in the packaging and timing of the gift.

4. Time it right.

Sometimes, sending gifts out with event invitations or after the event has concluded can add a little element of exclusivity to the gift. Recipients don’t necessarily see everyone else receiving the same thing, making it that much more special.

Giving gifts before an event can add to the hype and set the tone going in, while waiting until after the event is over can help you recapture some of the energy of the event and keep up momentum.

Regardless of what you choose to give or when you give it, gift giving is just as important as the event itself. If you’re unsure of how to do it properly, consult an expert. A gift can serve as a tangible reminder of the event long after it’s over. Make sure that’s a good thing.

What was the most memorable gift you’ve received at a marketing event? Tell us about it in the comments below.

By John Ruhlin – Founder & CEO, Ruhlin Group

John Ruhlin is the Founder and CEO of the Ruhlin Group, a firm that specializes in high-level gifting plans to build relationships and acquire new clients. The Ruhlin Group’s partnership with Cutco has enabled it to become the No. 1 distributor of Cutco in Cutco’s 60-year history. John is a sought-after speaker on the topics of C-level selling, relationship development, and strategic gifting; he is also the co-author of the best-selling book, “Cutting Edge Sales” and the author of the recently released book, “Giftology.”