Generally a late riser, my husband decided to go for a run one fine morning. It was in the summer of 2019. He woke up, freshened up and took out the only dry-fit t-shirt he had, which he got as a gift from a vendor. To his surprise, the t-shirt had shrunk couple of sizes which was a perfect fit a wash before. He took it as a signal from God for not going for a run, and jumped back into the bed, mumbling to himself “why do companies give such shitty gifts?”. I was watching this whole episode thinking he must be just making up excuses for being lazy, but when I inspected the t-shirt, it was actually smaller than how it was when he got it.
Although, I’m a corporate secretary by profession, this ‘customer-infuriating’ experience of my husband got me thinking that a business had spent money on that t-shirt, gifted it to a prospect, and still managed to get a bad name for itself. ‘Paisa bhi gaya, Customer bhi gaya’, my marwadi brain said.
When you pay for promotions and get a customer because of it, you can calculate the customer acquisition cost (CAC = Total marketing expense/total customers onboarded for a given period). However, when you pay for promotions and still manage to get your customers to say “I’ll never buy from this brand” because of your promotion, what do you call it? Let’s call it ‘Customer Disposal Cost’ (CDC = Promotion expense/number of customers lost due to that promotion). So say, you gave a coffee mug to a prospect, worth Rs. 150. Unfortunately, that coffee mug breaks and pours the hot coffee on your prospect’s body. She will have an awful image about your brand when this happens, and thus may not buy from you ever. Thus, you lost a prospect, making your CDC as Rs. 150.
Obviously, our aim should be to make sure that we don’t have to calculate CDC in our businesses. But how to do that? Promotional gifts and merchandises are a great strategy to create a brand goodwill in your client’s mind, and also gives you free advertising when your client uses your product (think all the logo printed umbrellas or shopping bags). Also, a gift creates an obligation in the mind of clients to make a purchase (lot of vendors gift Diwali dry fruit baskets to clients, making them obligated for future orders).
However, promotional gift strategy has a very thin line between a good and a bad client experience. It can make or break your customer relationship. Imagine the umbrella you gifted a prospect has holes in it, or the dry fruit basket you gave your esteemed client has fungus in it. It can take as little as Rs. 100 to ruin years of good relationship.
I thought, there has to be a better way of assuring the quality of gifts. That is when I started researching how to create a top-quality corporate gifting experience and founded Vinika Fashions. Vinika is the portmanteau of Vinit and Monika. [I had to bring his name first since his stupidity led to the idea for this business 🙂 ]
At Vinika Fashions, our entire focus is on the quality of gifts, otherwise there’s no point. I personally connect with a lot of manufacturing units across India, procure samples, test them for quality, and then suggest it to our clients.
I remember this one time I had a meeting with the Procurement team in a big IT company in Chennai. They called me to their office with a few coffee mug samples, suitable as a gift to all their employees. We went into the conference room. It was intense, like I was there for a job interview. The meeting intensified when the procurement manager randomly picked a ceramic coffee mug sample from the table and asked me to drop it from a 4 ft height. Although I’m generally confident about my products, I was not sure if ceramic mugs were meant for drop tests. Anyway, I took the cup and dropped it on the floor. It didn’t break. I picked it up and placed it back on the table. They were very impressed. It also restored my faith in the manufacturing unit I was procuring the mugs from.
I confess that if you check out www.vinikafashions.com, you might not like the aesthetics of the webpages. To be honest, I have no coding or HTML experience, and yet I tried creating an entire website from scratch on the WordPress platform. I guess this is what you do when you’re a boot-strapped start-up, right?
Corporate gifts have the power to create a brand fan for life, given the gift has the ability to impress your prospects/clients. With promotional gifts, it easy to calculate branding ROI – just see how frequently your clients use the gift that you’ve given to them. It feels great to see your logo on your prospect’s t-shirt which they love to wear frequently, and your client still using that special pen that you’ve gifted to her a couple of years back. Small gestures like this go a long way in building a great brand and eventually, a great customer relationship.