Checklist: How B2B Execs Can Tailor Holiday Rewards for Year-Long Impact


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If your holiday shopping list looks anything like mine, you have a long, diverse group of people to buy for, and finding something that feels personal to everyone feels like searching for a needle in a haystack. Businesses aren’t exempt from this daunting task, and now’s the time to be looking ahead at what you’re going to give employees, prospects, clients and other business connections for holiday gifts and rewards.

Giving people something they really want that stands out among the sea of fruit baskets, popcorn tins, and mundane swag is a tall order. Ordering one-size-fits-all gifts won’t provide the personal touch that will help drive year-long loyalty and engagement, but taking the time to tailor gifts to every single person or client on your list might feel like it could take the whole year to do it right.

Today’s gift cards have evolved. There are great opportunities for personal and engaging gifts that offer immediate value to the recipient.

Here are a few ways you can leverage holiday gift card rewards to create year-long engagement and loyalty:

Choose gift cards over other options. Company t-shirts and tchotchkes are overused. Your stakeholders want rewards they find meaningful, offer choice, and make them feel appreciated. But they also want the flexibility to select and enjoy rewards on their terms. Gift cards satisfy all of those parameters. Research1 has found that people overwhelmingly prefer gift cards as rewards—and that offering gift cards as rewards have a significant impact. In fact, research found that six out of 10 people surveyed report feeling valued when receiving a gift card from their employer or a brand. The research also found that gift cards feel like financial rewards; make people feel like their company cares about them; motivate them to stay with their company, and encourage them work harder. Survey respondents who received a gift card from a brand or retailer also reported that receiving a gift card as a reward encourages them to purchase more often from the company giving the reward, increases their loyalty to the brand and encourages them to buy more from the brand. Why bother giving out fruitcakes when gift cards pack such a powerful punch?

Tailor gift cards to different generations and lifestyles. B2B brands need to buy holiday gifts and rewards for a diverse group of people who each have a unique relationship with your business. It’s unlikely that your company’s digitally-savvy Gen Z social media manager is going to want the same reward as a boomer client who doesn’t live on her smartphone (or maybe doesn’t even own a smartphone!). Knowing what motivates and resonates with different generations and lifestyle preferences helps maximize reward impact for each subgroup. Offering a mix of reward options is a sure-fire way to create meaningful engagements with everyone. For instance, don’t just offer gift card rewards that can only be redeemed with one brand or retailer. Research1 confirmed that people want gift cards that feature their choice of brands. Some reward providers like offer reward cards that can be redeemed at hundreds of brands—greatly increasing the odds that at least a few will be among recipients’ favorites. Try to also give gift cards in different denominations and forms (e.g., physical and digital) to provide even more choice your employees, prospects, clients and other recipients will appreciate.

Personalize rewards. If you earned a trophy, would it feel as special without your name on it? Blackhawk Network’s research1 found that fewer than one in six reward program managers take advantage of adding a thoughtful touch like including a recipient’s name on a gift card reward. And fewer than one quarter of reward program managers use personalization options like putting the company logo or recipient’s name on a plastic or digital reward card. Yet the research also found that half of survey respondents would be interested in receiving a gift card that can be personalized with a message, picture, sports team or custom background. Ignoring the option to personalize is a huge missed opportunity to reinforce a positive interaction with your brand—yet the technology is out there ready to be used. offers options for reward card givers to add their logo to the cards for brand recognition, include words of thanks to each individual and other opportunities to personalize the cards for unique user experiences. Small details like these can go a long way in singling out employees for their specific contributions and accomplishments or clients for choosing your business over the competition—and won’t go unnoticed.

Year-long engagement matters when it comes to the various groups that impact your company’s success. You want to foster happy, connected employee, prospect and client relationships because all of them can have a huge impact on your bottom line. The recipe for nurturing these relationships around the holidays is simple; give well thought out gift card rewards that acknowledge their individuality and demonstrate your willingness to acknowledge their unique tastes and preferences. I appreciate when my clients and employer do this for me and I bet yours will, too.

Theresa McEndree
Theresa McEndree is the Global Head of Marketing & Corporate Brand for Blackhawk Network. In this role, Theresa oversees a multinational team focused on brand, product marketing and revenue generation. With more than 15 years of B2B marketing expertise, she is a sought-after thought leader with a thumb on the pulse of marketing, retail brand and shopper trends. Prior to Blackhawk, she held senior marketing positions at FreedomPay and Ecount, a Citi company.


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