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Knock-their-socks-off gifts for hard-to-buy-for executives

Expert tips from an industry veteran

As owner of Red Scarf Promotions, event and incentive product specialist Joanna Wiseberg has been helping clients select corporate gifts for 22 years. We asked her to share her secrets for choos­ing knock-their-socks-off gifts for hard-to-buy-for executives.

First, let’s define what we mean by executive.
They’re upper level manager, director and up. They make more than $200,000 per year. They’re in a different league, they have everything and can buy whatever they want. That’s why buying them gifts is a challenge.

Where do you start?
Ask their executive assistant. They know their likes and dislikes. Ask as many questions as possible: Does he or she have a hobby? Are they married? Do they travel a lot? Do they have kids? If they do, passes to a family show might be appreciated. You can also Google the executive and see if you get any clues.

What’s the biggest challenge?
Budget. If you don’t have a sufficient budget, don’t bother. That’s not to say a standout gift has to be pricey. A few years ago we created popcorn bowls and filled them with candy for telecom executives. They loved them because they could share them with their families.

What tend to be surefire hits?
Technology and leather. A gorgeous leather garment bag is always appreciated. Executives generally travel light, with just a duffle bag and a garment bag—why not give them a great one? And focus on quality. For example, you might think pens are boring, but execu­tives love beautiful, high-quality writing instruments.

What mistakes do planners make when choosing executive gifts?
Not having a sufficient budget and assuming some­thing that worked in the past will work now—you have to stay current. Visit high-end gift shops and ask them what’s selling well. A gift keeps the conversation between the executive and the client going, so you want it to be positive.

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