Sending holiday gifts to key clients and referral sources is a great way to show your company’s appreciation. Make sure these gifts survive the journey and showcase your good wishes by choosing, packing and shipping them correctly.
Here are a few tips to ensure that your gifts send the right message to your clients and referral sources:
1. Pick the right gift: The offering you send needs to strike the right balance between appreciation and going overboard. In addition, you need to be mindful of violating any corporate rules about receiving gifts. Some companies and government agencies have a gift policy limiting the dollar value of a gift or prohibiting gifts altogether. Check that first. Business gifts should also be high quality and sensitive to any cultural issues. They should be well-packaged to represent your company’s image and to assure that they arrive intact. And don’t forget a handwritten card to make it personal. Check out a great piece called, “The 8 Essentials of Corporate Gift Buying” for more tips.
2. Pay attention to the shipping carton: Make sure to use a corrugated carton that's in good condition and sturdy enough to withstand the trip. Do not reuse old boxes as they tend to lose strength and protective quality with reuse. Choose a carton that’s a few inches larger than the gift to allow protective cushioning on all sides. Better yet, use the “box within a box” approach, gift wrapping the present and nesting it in a larger box, cushioned by air pillows for safety.
3. Choose the cushioning carefully: The cushioning you put around the gift can make the difference between it arriving intact or broken. Choose high-quality cushioning like air pillows. Avoid using newspaper. Not only does newspaper stain, it tends to flatten while the box is in transit.
4. Pick the right tape: The right tape assures that your gift’s packaging won’t open in transit and that the contents aren’t pilfered along the way. Water-activated tape bonds to the box, creating a secure seal that makes it almost impossible to tamper with the carton. Read more about water-activated tape here.
Avoid using plastic tape or masking tape. And never use rope or string to seal packages. These can get caught in the equipment. When that happens the box may break or the recipient may receive a mangled gift.
5. Seal it right: Professional shippers use the “H-Tape Method” to securely seal packages. That means applying the water-activated tape in an H-shape across the box’s upper surface —along the top and the two top seams.
6. Finish it off with an inside address label and a handwritten note or holiday card: These two final touches are important. The inside address label should have the recipient’s address. If the exterior label is lost or damaged, this may allow the shipping company to still deliver your gift. The note or card you include will help personalize the gift and offer a message to the recipient that reminds them of your company and how important they are to your success.
7. Remember the shake test: Once the box is packed tightly with air pillow cushioning all around (top, bottom and all four sides) do one last thing: Give it a good shake. Make sure you don’t hear any movement. That’s for safety sake and to assure you that your shipper will accept the package. Some shippers, such as the US Postal Service, won’t accept packages when the contents sound like they are moving.
8. Mind these deadlines: Ship your gifts with plenty of time to spare. If your goal is to get them there by Christmas, here are the recommended shipping dates by carrier accord to a CNBC article called, “10 stress-free ways to avoid holiday shipping hassles”:
|USPS||Dec. 20 (First Class)||Dec. 21 (Priority Mail)
||Dec. 23 (Priority Express)|
|UPS||Dec. 21 (2nd Day Air)||Dec. 23 (Next Day Air)|
|FedEx||Dec. 19 (Express Saver)||Dec. 21 (2nd Day)||Dec. 25 (Same Day)|
For more tips on packing and shipping business holiday gifts check out “Insider Tips for Packing like a Pro.” This resource includes detailed videos and guides (PDF) to help you box, label and seal and ship your packages.