Gift Marketing: How to Not Be Creepy

Gift-giving may be the next big thing in the marketing world. Different from coupons and promotions, gifts are given to potential customers or influencers to get their attention. They can serve a number of purposes, ranging from a thank-you to a brand-building tool.

But there’s a delicate line between what constitutes a great gift and what constitutes a creepy one. Let’s talk about how to aim for fun and personal without getting too intimate – with a few real-world examples.

Think Personal, Not Intimate

No one wants to feel watched, and there’s a huge difference between personalized marketing and intimacy that goes just a step too far. Media streaming services like Apple Music and Netflix are programmed to gather data about what customers like – and provide recommendations for new music and videos based on that data. This is a great example of personalized marketing.

Intimate (read: creepy) marketing, on the other hand, is what happens when an algorithm gleans a little too much information. For one woman who bought a diet product once, finding repeated ads inundating her with links to new weight loss products crossed the line. She felt vulnerable – like the internet was telling her she was fat.

Choosing the Right Gift

Now that we’ve identified the distinction between personal and creepy, let’s identify what kinds of gifts are appropriate for a marketing campaign. Sure, branded swag can be useful, but what if we went a little deeper? For example, depending on your target demographic, checking out listicles, like on ThisGiftsForMen, can offer some good insights.

The production team behind the recently released horror film The Gift did a great job illustrating how not to go about this – though in their case, the campaign was intentional. The marketing team sent personalized packages to around 50 film writers, including critics and reporters, with messages and items that referenced the writers’ social media activity from many years past. (The writer who covered this campaign added that he hoped no actual stalking victims were targeted in this campaign.)

Instead of using stalker tactics, try these tips on for size.

  • Social Gifts. You don’t have to give a tangible object to make an impression. For example, if your client is a huge baseball fan, give free tickets to a local game – and invite spouses and other guests to join. This tactic works especially well if your company develops personal relationships with clients – so they’ll know you not only care, but you’ll go out of your way to show it.
  • Free Money. This is a tactic employed by big name retailers all over the world. Instead of sending a coupon or a discount, send a no-strings-attached gift card. Not only will your customer appreciate it, but your gift will also get them in the door to your business – enticing them to spend more and building their loyalty to your brand.
  • Useful Items. While your client may use a pen with your company logo on it, the gift won’t be memorable. Instead, send something you know they’ll use, that can still be branded. For example, if you know your client is training for a marathon, send a sports water bottle – with a little note letting them know you’re thinking about their efforts.

No matter what you give, make sure you’re focused on your relationship with your client. If there’s any chance that the client will be bored or turned off by your gift, you might want to reconsider your strategy.

About Larry Alton

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

One Response to Gift Marketing: How to Not Be Creepy

  1. Gift marketing is not creepy just bit different