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Corporate Gift Market

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Last week I enjoyed a nice burst in weekly sales from Administrative Assistant's Week.    I've had 2 $100 plus sales this week for door prizes.   Pottery, as a category,  is an excellent corporate gift.   I wanted to share a few pointers that have contributed to my success in this market.


- About 1/3 of my sales are purchased by a company or organization

- Corporate gifts are all about price.  You approach this market with "How much do you have allocated for this gift(s)?"  The IRS limit is $25.  Some companies stick with this number.  You can adjust this number by adding a packing/processing fee if they want to spend more.  I've added $10 to $15 for this in some situations.

- I have had ranges from $6 to $150.   The medium gift value is $25. 

- To reach this market you need to find out their gifting amount needs and show them what you have in their price range.  It's all about providing  a solution.  You are the problem solver!   Corporate gifts are for the most part fulfilling an obligation or creating an obligation.  The key word here "obligation".


- Corporate Gift Opportunities:

   1.  Thank you gifts for important customers or referrals

        1.  Christmas (largest market)

        2.  Reward for a specific event (large purchase like a house or specific referral)

        3.  Constant referrals.  Examples:  orthodontist , drug reps (to doctors), attorneys (like someone in Admiralty law derives most of their cases from referrals).  In    

             general, many highly specialized professions depend on referrals from more generalized professionals.  These professions reward their referral base 

             generously at Christmas and often for a specific referral.

   2.  Administrative Assistant Week, Bosses Week, Teach Appreciation Week,  Nurse's/Health Care Professional Week

   3.  Retirement Gifts or Landmark Years of Service (25 years, etc) Gifts

   4.  Door prizes at conferences/meetings

   5.  Conference/meeting  gifts - items given out to everyone in attendance


How do you get this market?  Okay as some would say "extraordinary circumstances" have helped me with some of this business.   I had some of these customers before in my previous business and this segment of my business has been enhanced by family connections.  But SOME of this business has come my way just by being available and having products that are differentiated (handmade) and the ability to fulfill in the specified price target.  I used to really chase this type of business but now it's all from past business customers, word of mouth and referrals.  A storefront is an advantage but emails with photographs/price points could work too.   You have to make the contact and find out their gifting needs.  I don't think too many business customers come to shows looking but might pick up a flyer entitled "Corporate Solutions to Gifting".    You have to reach their "top of mind" as a corporate/organization gift solution provider.


Another thing is some sort of packing.  Doesn't have to be expensive.  I use brown craft bags embellished with curling ribbon.


Some sales made in the past year:

-  250 $20 small platters for a yearly conference

-  150 $10 small bowl for favors for a commemoration dinner

-  32  $25 bowls/platters for hospital staff  (given by health care company)

- 18 $40 Trays for Board of Directors at a hospital 

-  2 $100 Bowls for Administrative Assistant Week (collection from whole office for 2 secretaries)

- 12 $25 Bowls for door prizes Insurance meeting

- 1 $75 standing order for any piece I choose for a realtor when they make a sale  (3-5 orders a month)

- 70 $3 small Mississippi ornaments for conference favors

- 120  $10 Necklaces for Christmas gifts for all secretaries in an insurance company

-  23 $20 bowls for public works secretaries

-  35 $6 small bowls for teachers from Beta Club

-  60 $20 bowls for teachers given by PT

-  80 $75 trays for attorneys given by an attorney for referrals


Just thought I would share this.   It's a constant flow of business for me.  If you have any questions feel free to ask or want specific information email me at Sharon@dirtroadspottery.com.

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sounds good, would contacting the convention manager of a high quality hotel be a good way to start?   not that there are any of those in my area but both DC and Baltimore are 60 miles away.  maybe wedding planners????

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Who to contact may vary. Law offices, medical practices, etc. often have an Office Manager who might take care of those details; or, it might be the principle owner who came across the item and decided it would make a nice gift. And, partners in a firm may have their own personal gifts they provide to their clients . . . noting clients travel with lawyers when they move from firm to firm. Conventions are organized by sponsoring groups; not the center, itself. The group will decide what goes in the goodies bag, so you'd really need to reach out to the various groups and associations who sponsor conventions.


Sometimes you just have to plant a seed. Maybe add a note/card with sales that tells customers you also do office items, etc. and to contact you for details. That customer may follow up or pass the info along to someone looking for such an arrangement. Or you can send flyers to potential firms, etc.


The mortgage banker I've used sends his clients a tin of homemade brownies/fudge from a small woman-owned business located up in the hills of Virginia.

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I am just wondering what person in the office usually does the shopping for the pieces? Admin assistants? The lawyers themselves, or someone in another position.



sounds good, would contacting the convention manager of a high quality hotel be a good way to start?   not that there are any of those in my area but both DC and Baltimore are 60 miles away.  maybe wedding planners????


Like bciskepottery said it varies.  And planting seeds.  As he also pointed out, once established, corporate clients usually have a "go to" source.   Once you get the business, it's ongoing.


As for a lawyer, they will usually pick these out themselves.    If  married/male, often their wife will pick these gifts out (influencers).  Last year two of my large office staff orders were selected by and placed by the wives of the executives.   You need to start assessing your customer base.      You will have decision makers and influencers.   Either can result in a substantial sale.   My largest sale was generated by a recommendation made to an administrative assistant from a board of director's wife,


Wedding planners ... definitely yes could be a source of referrals (if they don't have their own agenda with items they are making a profit on).  Wedding couples are saddled with lots of obligation gifts - party/shower hostesses, wedding favors,  bridesmaid/groomsmen gifts, rehearsal dinner favors and gifts for very helpful people.   I've had numerous sales to a bride for 6-8 $40-$50 gifts for people that were not paid but just volunteered assistance for their weddings.  I've had several orders for favors.  For $3 they can get a small 3 inch cross or Mississippi, with wedding date scratched on back (No names!).  We had an order a couple of weeks ago for 400 small crosses.  My niece cut out the entire order in 3 hours.   I don't particularly like doing something for $3, but no matter how I slice the numbers they are profitable. My niece suggested putting this on pinterest and instagram .. but i said no because I don't want that many of these types orders.  A few a long is .. nice.  Right now, I have 5 orders for wedding related gifts with quantities ranging from 10 to 150.


Hotel convention planners .... not sure.  They may be obligated to buy from the hotel gift shop.  I have a casino 9 miles from my location.   They dangled a $3500  order last fall but never heard back from them.  I didn't pursue because in my previous dealings, they ultimately select something from the casino gift shops (those places are usually piled with bads that the hotel/casino needs to get rid of).   However, if the planner really likes your work, you might get some referrals.  Most of my convention sales come from someone on the planning committee.  Like you wouldn't think of "court reporters" as a potential market, but they just made their 2nd purchase for their state wide convention  (20 door prizes, speaker gifts for a total order of $800).


Best place to start is with the customer base you have.  I assess almost every one that comes to my studio show room.  A couple weeks back, I casually asked a new customer what she did.   Ahh... assistant dean.  I then offered my services for any professional association gifts she might need, door prizes, favors, whatever.  She responded that she was in charge of getting speakers and they always gave them a gift.  In fact ... she needed about 10 gifts for a conference 3 weeks away.   And then said I may as well get those now.  We selected 10 $50 gifts, which I wrapped (kraft roll) and placed in large craft bags and trimmed with curling ribbon & craft tissue.  As we loaded this she said thanks for helping me get this done.  So glad to have this out of the way.  This turned a $200 sale into a $700 sale.  Plus with a business card on each item, I am advertising my business. 


Just sending out flyers, not sure about the effectiveness.  I have sent numerous Mississippi ornaments, along with a business card, to people that I know are influencers or decision makers.   I don't mail them but send them through personal contacts.  I think websites and social media have replaced my need for a flyer.   Since using my square I'm keeping better records.    Over half my $ dollar sales are corporate or organization purchases.  


I've found that corporate customers delight in giving  "hand made" "U. S. made" "Mississippi made", "Leake County made" .   Have yet to see someone connect with "Edinburg Made"

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