What is a Gift?

Although there is a generally accepted definition, a gift means different things to everyone. And there are many different kinds of gifts. There are gifts for the occasion, gifts of time and attention and unexpected little twist of fate gifts that fall from the sky in a moment where everything comes together for your benefit. Those are my favourite gifts, I call them Karma candy.

In business, gifts typically have a marketing intent. Whether a free service or sample product, the purpose is to connect with a new customer. Gifts can be a great marketing strategy and if you have a great product, getting it into the hands of potential customers to try, is a sure recipe for success.

I caution you to think about the gifts you give. Because a marketing gift gone wrong can be a source of entertainment for a wider audience than you expect. Here’s a story such as that…

We received a gift from our web hosting provider today. It arrived in the form of an email invoice for a new domain name with 1 year of web forwarding at no charge. No mention that it was a gift from them but there was a userid associated with the transaction. The domain name was not one that we would use and we knew that we had not processed a transaction. It ended with my calling them to find out that nobody had been in our account – it was a gift.

Think their marketing message missed the mark? Not only did they give us a gift we could not use, they neglected to present it as a gift.

They had a great idea and turned it into a missed opportunity. Had they informed us that we were eligible for this gift, they could have asked us what domain we would like. That would have been a gift that would more likely generate future income for them. If they gave us a domain we could use, we wouldn’t be able to let it go after a year. The one we got, will expire without our even noticing.


Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder, September 25, 2013