Years of service, promotions, mergers, partnerships, office relocations, expansions, retirement….the list goes on and on about why you spend on promotional gifts for your employees. But just because you have some dough to spend, it doesn’t mean you should. At least not until you’ve done some practical homework to ensure your purchase isn’t headed right for Craigslist

This article will give you some basic tips on planning your next promotional items purchase. We highlight a quick example from a financial services firm that made everybody happy on a budget of $25 per employee.

Survey Says….

Before you purchase anything, poll the crowd. It’s a valuable step in the purchasing process that ensures quality promotional items and value for your spend. There are several helpful online survey tools such as SurveyMonkey or ConstantContact to use at a small price. If you don’t feel like spending for the technology, you can create a simple online doc with free text fields - try creating a form in Google Docs. Polling is easy and it creates good engagement from the start of your purchasing process.

Get Em Thinking…

Offer gift ideas to get your employees’ creative juices going. Once you’ve let everyone have their say, take the initial answers and refine to 2-4 options that represent the majority of your organization. For example, if you know your employees want iTunes gift cards, logoed golf balls and some want canvas tote bags; create a second survey offering 3-6 choices from the initial results. Make sure you communicate a cutoff date to receive the responses or simply end your survey at a set time if you’re using an online survey tool. 

Choices = Happy

Now that you’ve offered some ideas and honed in on the most common interests of your employees, it’s time to take orders leaving 1 of 2 items to pick from. Allowing your employees to take part in the process every step of the way creates better morale and a better return on your allotted budget. Plus, people like having a certain amount of autonomy to make their own choice.

Real Life Example:

One example of this coming together is from a Financial Services Company. This company was consolidating offices and the executive team recognized that a physical office move coupled with merging people and processes would make for a tough few months. In an effort to celebrate the office move and not loathe it, they engaged the new team and ultimately made a smart purchase of promotional gifts.

Here’s what they did -

With $25 allotted for each employee, this company took a pulse on their internal culture and found themselves offering up two gift items for the employees to choose from. Their office is competitive and many of the employees are outdoor types and athletic. They also recognized that some of their employees had hefty commutes. So they came up with 2 options that reflected the crowd and provided good branding and value to the employee: Logoed Golf Umbrella or Canvas Tote Bag.

Both options offer branding, but more important – utility. So with 300 people in the new office, they were able to purchase from top manufacturers and provide modern, quality gifts for their employees at a cost of $25 per. And unlike these company cufflinks for $35 – they won’t end up on Craigslist!

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