Corporate gifts (particularly physical items) are seen as morally dubious nowadays. Many businesses simply don’t allow their staff to accept them. It’s a far cry from 20 or 30 years ago.
In the interim period, companies found increasingly ingenious ways to provide their customers with a thank-you gift. One idea I saw used once was to give the attendees to a customer seminar their takeaway documents in a bag which might have had a longer life than a plastic folder.
However, if done right, it’s still quite possible to send small consumable gifts which are effective and don’t hammer the marketing budget. One of our own clients sends us some regional confectionery every Christmas and we love them for it.
Best of all though is doubling up and making the customer look good. I know you have to tread carefully these days, but sending someone a box of biscuits for their office only costs about £10 and 2 minutes online. It’s the sort of ‘gift’ which is still acceptable even in today’s climate (although don’t then try to claim the tax back for food items).
The key though is that a gift like this allows the recipient to share it around in their office and become even more popular than you were for sending it.