Gifts Come With Strings

January 23, 2018

We have just finished the gift giving season when virtually everyone has received a gift or two -  either personal or professional.  It is a way of celebrating the completion of a year, even if expressed in other terms – Christmas, Hannukah, etc.

Gifts are strong psychological items.  They come not only with ribbons and bows but with strings attached.

More often than not the gift has greater significance to the giver than to the receiver.

Whether you expected the gift or not, it is part of a transaction.  If you receive;  you are expected to give, unless you have already given.

In a business relationship, the person who is paid during the year, gives to the payer as a thank you.

Normally the gift is more important to the giver than to the person receiving.  The giver has more stress finding the right thing and being concerned about whether the recipient will be happy receiving the gift.

The pleasure for the giver is seeing the happiness, and perhaps surprise, of the receiver.  And sometimes it is a demonstration of the ability to give.  The Pacific coast native people in North America elevated this to an art with the Potlatch Ceremony.  At these parties, the host would give away all he owned.  It was a dramatic display of wealth and required the receivers to try to out do the host.

Humans are pretty intuitively transactional.  That’s how the sample tables at supermarkets and department stores work so well.  The vendors give a sample to you and you, intuitively, feel indebted to them.  Even if it is just a little that becomes part of the price you pay for their product.  When we have done sampling programmes, we always see a strong response.

One simple technique we recommended to Subway franchisees, when they had a line up, was to have a staff member cut up some cookies and hand them out to the people waiting in line.  No one leaves the line once they have received a gift and often they will spend a little more.  Giving is a great way to tilt the transaction in your favour.

Giving gifts at birthday parties, holidays or whenever is a way for friends and family to cement and repair their relationship.  From a marketing point of view, gifts, bonuses, rewards (yes, even collector points) are a great way to do the same with your customers.  You gift them and they owe you.

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