The Holy Grail of Holiday Selling: The Art of Corporate Gifts

With over 400 wineries, we’ve seen what works…and what doesn’t.

We know how it is. Harvest is wrapped up, Fall releases and clubs are underway. And then around the beginning of November, you begin to receive the emails from other wineries detailing their gift options for the holidays. You start seeing Instagram posts with wooden boxes and tinsel. And you think, ‘Eeeeeeep! I’ve got to get my gift packs out there!’ So you throw together one or two options, send out an email to your list - and hope for the best.  You get a few orders for Thanksgiving and Christmas gifts, but you’re left wondering if you could’ve done more.

The short answer is yes…you can do more. But it doesn’t have to be painful or overly time-consuming. With a little bit of thought and a splash of creativity, you can be a corporate gifting pro. Over the years, we’ve learned a few let’s get started!

Here’s the unsexy (but most important) part: Timing.

1)   Talk to your fulfillment house.

Find out their deadlines. Get your calendar out and work backward. You might be surprised at how early they require the orders be transmitted to them to ensure holiday shipment.

2)   Talk to your vendors.

With your calendar out, work backward from your fulfillment house’s deadlines. Be sure that your vendors will be able to supply their items in time for packing the boxes. This includes wooden boxes, holiday-themed packing materials, collateral postcards, etc.

3)   Talk to your gifting customers.

Although many may be okay with deliveries taking place ‘in time for Christmas’, there are often other considerations that may need to be taken into account. Perhaps most of the gifts need to arrive prior to the office shutting down for the holidays. Or maybe they’d like them to arrive in time for a holiday party where they will be handed out.

Now for the fun part. What do you want to offer?

4)   Wine? Of course. Just wine? Perhaps.

What about offering something else in addition to the wine? T-shirt, corkscrew, favorite cookbook, chocolate, olive oil…these are all nice additions that can round out a gift really nicely.  How about movie passes with a suggestion to see SOMM3? We’ve even seen one winery offer a Cards Against Humanity deck in one of their gifts. Perhaps your winemaker’s dog was featured in the latest Wine Dogs book. Get creative and fun!

5)   Think about the packaging.

Unboxing a gift is a big part of the perception of the quality. Wood boxes, specialty gift boxes, and interesting and festive packing materials are worthwhile considerations. Fulfillment houses sometimes offer special gift box options for the holidays, often in two-bottle and/or three-bottle configurations. Some offer up holiday colored packing materials. If nothing else, they’ll be a great resource to suggest where to procure specialty packaging.

6)   Make it personal.

Customizing the gifts in some way is a great upsell/incentive. Including a beautifully crafted card with a handwritten note to the recipient goes a long way toward making these ‘corporate’ gifts seem artisanal and special.

You, yes YOU, can make your gifts look amazing.

7)   Images are everything.

You don’t have to be a professional photographer, but when you are taking pictures of your gift offerings, be sure that your lighting is as good as it can be. Natural light is best. Set up your boxes by a bright window with plenty of indirect sunlight. Experiment some creative angles and positioning.  Also, the cropping tool is your friend. If you’re taking pictures in a busy environment, crop out extraneous ‘noisy’ imagery so that the focus is on the gift.

Keep your eyes and ears open...or...“Always be closing.”

8)   Hit ‘em everywhere they are.

By all means, craft an image-rich, beautiful email to your mailing list. But don’t stop there. Talk to your social media platforms as well.  Facebook and Instagram expand their reach as your fans ‘like’ and comment on posts. With more engagement on your post, in the form of likes, comments and shares, others beyond your immediate sphere will be exposed to your messaging. That can very well translate into orders.

9)   Keep your ear to the ground.

Law firms, investment firms, doctors’ offices, contractors, etc etc. The list is endless. Getting a haircut? Chances are your hairdresser is giving gifts to his biggest clients. Speaking to a real estate agent? We’d guarantee that they are looking for a way to show gratitude to their biggest buyers/sellers. You don’t need to go full Glengarry Glenn Ross (‘Always be closing’), but it’s beneficial to have your radar on when you’re out and about so that you can be the one with the solution.

10) Don’t forget the shameless self-promotion.

Remember, you are getting your product in front of many customers who are new to your brand. Be sure to include a postcard that includes info about how to order more, join your wine club, visit your tasting room, etc.

Make it smooooooooth and easy.

The easier you make it, the more likely you will have a repeat corporate gifter in following years. Here’s how you do just that:

Have pre-assembled gift boxes ready to rock. The last thing a person wants to do when tasked with sending out 100+ gifts is to have to think about which wine, which packaging, etc. Make it easy to choose. Create no more than 3 different options (preferably at varying price points). Making it all-inclusive means that the gifter doesn’t have to set aside a bunch of extra time to hammer out the details.

Make bulk ordering easy. Your customers aren’t going to want to place each order separately or deal with dozens of individual invoices. Supply them with a form that makes placing their order a breeze. Check out our recent holiday promotions article for a free downloadable template.

Keep in contact, stay in contact. Once you receive the order, reach out with a personal call or email. Let them know that you’ve got it handled. Again, when someone is sending hundreds of gifts, they want to be sure there’s attention being paid every step of the way. They want to feel informed.

Communicate, communicate, communicate! If there are any issues with deliverability, let the gifter know immediately. To that end, once the gifts are delivered, supply the gifter with a list of tracking numbers. This will save your sanity as they begin confirming that gifts have made it to their destinations.

Take time to do an exit interview. Follow up after the craziness of the holidays to confirm how your items were received. This will show that you care about the reception of your gifts. This is also a great time to gather information about what could be improved– this info can inform how you will change your offerings the next year. This attention to every detail from concept to completion will guarantee you as the go-to option for gifting throughout the year.

Corporate gifts can be a consistently sizeable revenue stream for you at year-end if you put some upfront thought into it, plan properly and follow through with solid communication. And as always, hit us up in Support if you want to brainstorm or have any questions about holiday offerings. We’re always here to help!

We’ll be rolling out more tips on how up your game this holidays season. To make sure you don’t miss a thing, subscribe to our blog.

Britney Yunker