Anybody who’s been through Q4 in promo knows November is too late to get started on a full custom gift in time for the year-end holidays. But that doesn’t stop clients from waiting until the last minute or later. Many clients simply don’t realize how much time is required to create a truly unique branded gifting experience.

Shifting to a year-round gifting program might be a way to avoid the holiday bottleneck – and help your clients stand out from the crowd. PPAI Media sat down for a conversation with Andrew Titus, president of Florida-based Fully Promoted (PPAI 240143, D7) the No. 18 distributor in the inaugural PPAI 100, to learn more about the ins and outs of gifting. Note: The following conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.

PPAI Media: Why is corporate gifting important?

Andrew Titus: It’s something that I’ve been passionate about for my staff year round, being able to ultimately make them feel welcomed. It’s even more important now that you have people who are working hybrid hours or remote, and it’s so important because it makes people feel valued by their company.

It also, in turn, increases the employee retention percentage, and furthermore, I think it helps them live the brand. If someone is wearing and living the brand and feeling valued by their company, I think that leads to them wanting to stay more.

We talk a lot about stickiness. What are some things that create stickiness with employees to their employer? There’s so many different things that a company can do for their employees. It not only is a way of recognizing them, but it’s also a way to keep that company front of mind and in sight.

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PPAI Media: What are some of the advantages of gifting on a year-round basis, rather than just focusing on the holidays at the end of the year?

Titus: If you focus on the year end, that’s great. But I think a lot of people are getting a lot of things at the year end, and it can go almost as a wash, in a way. They’re getting so much stuff, and it’s better, honestly, to spread out quarterly because you want that person to not only feel recognized at the end of the year end into Q1, but also year round.

I actually think surprise gifts throughout the year are more impactful because people don’t expect it as much. You can stay away from the Christmas holiday theme, too. You can do different things at different seasons. I think that makes it more meaningful to employees to spread out when they’re being gifted those items.

If you focus on the year end, that’s great. But I think a lot of people are getting a lot of things at the year end, and it can go almost as a wash. … I actually think surprise gifts throughout the year are more impactful because people don’t expect it as much. – Andrew Titus, president of Fully Promoted

PPAI Media: What are some of the critical steps in implementing a year-round gifting program?

Titus: If it’s for your employees, it’s first determining what things they like. It’s one thing to give items – it’s another thing to actually match it up with people’s interests and what they like. Someone who doesn’t like sports, I’m not going to really want to give them something that has to do with sports. I’m going to give them something that caters toward their interests.

If it’s a customer or maybe a strategic partner or a vendor, I’m going to give them something more personal that I’ve heard them say that they enjoy. It connects closer to home for them.

I think that’s a really big strategy: First off, knowing what do they enjoy, and then second, obviously, it’s coming up with a budget. Don’t go cheap, because people can tell – the second you go cheap, people realize it’s cheap.

PPAI Media: What are some of the questions buyers should ask themselves before they come to a distributor when deciding how much to spend and what to give?

Titus: That’s what we do. I mean, we ask those questions to the buyer, because we consider ourselves the pros in coming up with ideas for our clients. Some of the questions that our franchisees ask buyers are:

  • What is this for, what industry?
  • What is your budget?
  • How much do you want to spend?
  • How many people?
  • What are their interests?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • What is the message you want to portray?

We take that consultative approach to be able to meet their needs, especially with apparel. Then when it gets to the items, we’ll match it up with different tiers for price points.

PPAI Media: Sizing is a challenge when gifting apparel. What are your recommendations for your clients when they are trying to collect that information?

Titus: Through company stores, they can actually upload their own information directly online, and then we’ll take care of the back end, so I recommend going to a distributor that can do a company store. I find that to be most effective.

If they want it to be a surprise, then I just recommend simple survey forms, maybe like a SurveyMonkey, to send out to the staff to be able to put in their sizes, and then they can ultimately forward that to a distributor.

The dirty secret here is it’s not very hard to make a company store, but it looks really cool to your staff. It adds another layer professionality.

PPAI Media: What are your pro tips for selecting the right gifts when you’re looking for something that really makes a memorable connection?

Titus: I definitely think don’t go cheap, and I’ve got to reiterate that again, because it can actually come across as a negative. You may be thinking you’re doing something positive for your staff or for your business or your clients or your customers, but it can actually be a negative if it’s cheap. Whatever you’re giving and providing to your employees or to customers is a direct correlation and reflection of what you want your image to be.

And go to a professional. Don’t pick the product on your own. Get the questions and see what the people’s interests are, and then let the experts who do this give recommendations.