The Key to Gifting is Personalization

It always amazes me how much people procrastinate and now we're about to get right into the heart of gifting season.

People wait.

And wait.

And wait…

I’ve always operated in a very different mode.

My wife and I started dating right after New Year’s in 1987 and I knew she was “the one” from the very beginning. I sent her a Valentine’s Day card around the middle of January, a month ahead of schedule.

She was attending grad school at the University of Chicago at the time and she called me from the Windy City.

“You know, Valentine’s Day is February 14,” she told me. “You’re a little early.

“I wanted to make sure you knew who your Valentine was,” I said. “I had to be first.”

I have to assume that many people reading this are still pondering their holiday gifts; 65% of all holiday shopping takes place during the last four days of the season.

Not me though. I send out my holiday gifts around Thanksgiving. I want to be first with all my gifts to friend and clients – and I also don’t want to have that pressure of worrying what to get everyone in the final days.

Plus, people remember a gift better when they get it in isolation, as opposed to receiving it with a bunch of other holiday presents.

Lately, though, I have gotten into the habit of buying gifts year-round; when I see something I know somebody would like, I try to buy it for them, no matter the time of year. That makes it a lot easier to get everyone the right gift; I don’t limit my selection to what’s available during the brief holiday season. By the time November rolls around, I already have most of my gifts in my closet, ready to go.

If you have read my books, you know that gifting is a major part of business strategy, as well, like the time I sent Brian Cashman, the GM of the New York Yankees, a Ballparks of America dirt map from Steiner Sports with the note, “Now you have a little dirt on all the teams in your office.”

Recently my team and I came across a dynamic service called Thnks (no that’s not a typo). Thnks is a digital gifting platform (available on the webApp Store and Google Play) that aims to strengthen relationships with instant, relevant, and meaningful gestures of appreciation. It’s billed as “smarter business gifting,” and the concept is built on what I have been employing at Steiner Sports for 30 years. 

Something I understood early on in the life of my company is that sports can serve as a valuable center point that takes business relationships outside of the office and the traditional meeting. Do you really want to receive a mailer with a random water bottle, ballpoint pens and notepads with your logo on it that you didn’t ask for? Or, would you rather receive an autographed baseball from your favorite player on your favorite team? Steiner Sports is proud to partner with Thnks to make the process giving a unique gift to a prospect or longtime client easier and more dynamic than ever before. 

There’s nothing better than feeling like you got someone something they’ll really use and get enjoyment out of.

But I fear that with no personalization of the holiday season, and Black Friday and Cyber Monday and all that, we’ve lost the fine art of gift-giving.

It’s turned into more of a gift-dumping.

Are your gifts things your loved ones will remember? And the same for clients and prospects? Will they be there before the others?

Comment below telling me one of the best gifts you’ve given or received. 


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  • After reading your united comment and realizing what kind of person you are, I will no longer buy from you.

    Bobby on

  • Totally agree with this. Although, sometimes I fall into a spot where I just don’t know what to do im always looking for ideas to make something meaningful. A few years, back I gave my mother a picture of our deceased dog on canvas and it instantly brought her to tears. If you can get someone to cry you did it right!

    Michael F on

  • This was a great read. Thanks for sharing! I have also been utilizing the idea of buying gifts year-round that way I know I am getting gifts people actually want rather than what is available in November/December. Also helps to remember what people want if you buy it on the sport basically. In terms of a great gift I received, it actually came from you a few weeks ago – a personalized Messier picture. It is a truly thoughtful and treasured item I will never forget. And again, goes back to the personalization idea of a gift. I always try and think outside the box and give something someone will really treasure and remember.

    Mike S on

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