Coming from a very corporate, policy led background where the thought of buying your client a coffee filled you with dread thinking of the amount of paperwork you’d have to complete, the agency world has been a real eye opener for me. I have not heard a murmur of anything remotely akin to the bribery act and to be honest I’m glad. If I am bringing business to a company, why can’t they treat me well?
Don’t get me wrong, I do get that things can get a little over the top, so some rules and regulations are good, you have to think of the smaller players after all (like me!). However, a lunch here or there shouldn’t be classed as bribery – you can only honestly recommend something if you’ve experienced it yourself!
In my world there are two types of freebie; let me explain…
There’s the larger scale stuff like lunches in 5-star properties or a showcase evening at a venue full of free food, drink and entertainment. This surely cannot be classed as bribery? I need to know the quality of a venue or hotel before I recommend it to a client or else I wouldn’t be doing my job properly and surely, I shouldn’t have pay for this if I am them going to refer business to said venue? Ok so sometimes you don’t need the overnight stay or scented candle from the hotel that smells divine (although this is a fab marketing ploy as I’m forever smelling the scent and thinking of said hotel!), but it does leave an impression and makes you think more about those places that go above and beyond to make effort to impress. Really, that’s what this level of hospitality is all about though, making an impression.
The smaller scale stuff is a bit trickier to value. By smaller scale I mean the branded note books, pens, tote bags and travel mugs. At the start of this new journey I loved all this stuff… 5 months in though, and I have enough pens to rival Rymans (at least I’ll never have to buy one again I guess!), my desk drawer is full of note pads and enough travel mugs to sink a ship (bonus there being my husband loses them regularly so there’s always room for more!). As much as these items are ten to the dozen, especially after trade shows, they do resonate with you on a lower level and in fact I have booked a team building session from a supplier largely because I am currently using their notepad and their number was right in front of me! Take note people… these things do work!
Walking away from a venue or supplier with home baked goods or having fully experienced what they can offer is 1,000% valuable, balance that with a branded pen or thermal cup and there isn’t really a comparison but all in all the essence is simple; clients want to feel special and giving them something memorable, be that an experience or a branded notepad and pen in a tote bag, does just that! A venue or a supplier doesn’t need to ply you with freebies but when they make you feel like a valuable client it really does make a difference.
What’s your stance on the freebie?