An expert on gift-giving explains says the holidays are the worst time of the year to send gifts to your clients

john ruhlin giftology

  • The holidays are the worst times to give a gift to a business
    client, according to gift-giving expert John Ruhlin.
  • Your holiday gift isn’t likely to stand out and it can seem
    like you bought it out of obligation, he said.
  • Ruhlin recommends buying your clients gifts at unexpected times
    to ensure your client remembers it and keeps you at the top of
    their mind.

Giving gifts to your loved ones is a staple of the holiday
season.

But if you’re trying to make a good impression on a business
client, the holiday season is the worst possible time to buy them
something.

That’s according to John Ruhlin, an
expert in corporate gift-giving
and author of the book
Giftology.”
Although the subject is something of an afterthought in the
business world, Ruhlin claims that strategic gift-giving can help
increase a company’s referrals and lead to more meaningful
relationships with clients.

Ruhlin has consulted with
companies
such as Wells Fargo, Shell, and sports teams like the
Chicago Cubs and Orlando Magic on the art of gift-giving. He said
the holidays are one of three occasions in which you should avoid
gift-giving.

“I don’t send one gift from a business perspective between
Thanksgiving and Christmas, or Thanksgiving and year-end, because i
feel like it’s the noisiest and most-cluttered time of the year,”
Ruhlin said
on the podcast “Success Insider” in 2016
. “So we do our gifting
the other 11 months out of the year.”

The idea, he explained to Business Insider, is that your clients
will be so overwhelmed with token gifts during the holiday season
that yours will have little chance of standing out. In other words,
it’s a time of year when gifts are expected from every angle.

“We teach people, don’t send gifts at Christmas, at
anniversaries, or birthdays, so no ‘ABC’ gifting,” Ruhlin told
Business Insider.

Read more:
A gift-giving expert has been giving clients paring knives for 20
years, and he’s convinced it’s the perfect gift
 

A better strategy, Ruhlin said, is to give on occasions where
gifts aren’t typically exchanged between business associates: think
Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, or the Fourth of July.

“On Valentine’s Day, send a gift that says, ‘We love working
with you!’ On St. Patrick’s Day, send one that says, ‘We’re lucky
to have you as a partner!'” Ruhlin wrote in “Giftology.”

“There are a million and one national holidays to choose from.
For instance, send a pizza along with a high-end pizza stone and
slicer on National Pizza Day. It can be so easy if you are willing
to open your eyes to the possibilities.”

He added: “By doing this, we cut into any sense of entitlement
because the gift never becomes an expectation. It’s always a
surprise, and it always makes an impact.”

Better yet, don’t even wait for a holiday to send your client a
gift. Ruhlin recommends surprising clients with thoughtful gifts
and random times of the year.

“Take that bottle of really good wine that you were going to
give at Christmas time, and send it in the middle of the winter
tundra of February instead,” Ruhlin wrote in “Giftology.” “I
guarantee the response will likely be, ‘That was the best gift! It
was the only thing I got in the mail that wasn’t a bill this
week!'”

Gifting on these unorthodox occasions will help you stand out
from the crowd, Ruhlin said, and signal to your client that you’re
treating them genuinely, and not because you have to. Over the
course of a business relationship, those moments add up.

“Our whole goal is to get something in somebody’s hands where
you’re remaining top-of-mind and triggering that memory of it being
given by that particular person,” he told Business Insider.

SEE ALSO: A
gift-giving expert has been giving clients paring knives for 20
years, and he’s convinced it’s the perfect gift

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CEO who sold her beauty company for $210 million wakes up every day
at 6 a.m. without an alarm, walks 4 miles, and spends up to 3 hours
working from an office in her bathroom


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An expert on gift-giving explains says the holidays are the worst time of the year to send gifts to your clients