How to Transform Client Acquisition with Creative Gifting Strategies

How to Transform Client Acquisition with Creative Gifting Strategies written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch


In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Steve Gumm, a marketing consultant and the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Gilded Box, a luxury corporate gifting company. He has extensive experience in helping companies break open doors and build lasting relationships through personalized and thoughtful gifting strategies.

Through his experience, he reveals the transformative potential of creative gifting in client acquisition, showcasing how agencies can stand out in a crowded market and foster strong, meaningful connections with their clients.

Key Takeaways

Steve Gumm, CMO of Gilded Box, emphasizes the power of personalized gifting in marketing, demonstrating how businesses can effectively attract and retain clients through thoughtful and unique gift campaigns. The process involves understanding the client’s needs and preferences, designing customized gifts that resonate on a personal level, and leveraging these gifts to build trust and open new opportunities.

He explains that successful gifting campaigns are not about the monetary value of the gifts but the thought and personalization behind them. This approach creates memorable experiences that leave a lasting impact on clients, making them more likely to engage and maintain a long-term relationship with you: the business. This episode offers age-old wisdom for businesses looking to enhance their client acquisition efforts through the classic personalized gifting technique.


Questions I ask Steve Gumm:

[01:54] How did you go from being a Marketing Consultant to being a Gifting guru?

[04:18] Is the unavoidable gift strategy a retention tactic or lead generation approach?

[08:31] How do you narrow down your target audience successfully?

[10:59] How do you begin a Gifting Campaign?

[14:45] Do you have some examples where you really surprised a client with a Gift?

[15:47] How has technology improved the effectiveness of Gifting Campaigns?

[18:15] Are there instances where the benefits of a campaign with a particular client immediately but have always remained top of mind?

[19:44] Is there someplace you want to invite people to check out what you’re doing and connect with you?


More About Steve Gumm:


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(01:03): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Steve Gumm. He is a marketing consultant who started his career running an agency that worked with some of the most recognizable brands, including celebrities and professional athletes using creative outreach to break open doors. After a successful E, he’s taken on the role of A CMO at Gilded Box, a luxury corporate gifting company. The designs builds and delivers extraordinary gifts to help companies open doors, close new deals, motivate employees, and build blasting relationships. So Steve, welcome to the show.

Steve Gumm (01:40): Thanks for having me. It’s more than an honor, John. More than an

John Jantsch (01:43): Honor. Well, so talk a little bit about your marketing journey. I mean, I gave a very brief sketch of it there, but I know in the past we had talked, I think maybe a few years back were just, you were a marketing consultant, had a marketing consulting firm. What’s changed for you maybe in terms of your objectives as well as how those are coming out?

Steve Gumm (02:06): Yeah, like most journeys, I had my own agency and then I went into consulting, and it’s one of those deals. I think even as a consultant, I’ve always gravitated towards some businesses you want to help, but some you want to help. Of course all of them, but some you’re more thrilled about. And so I went through and was basically helping sales and marketing teams doing the whole fractional CMO type of thing. And when Gilded Box came around, it’s just something that I fell in love with. And I think for everybody, you try to find that thing where it’s like, okay, there’s something here that just feels right. And I was just very fortunate. It wasn’t by design, but everything just came together for me. And so why I still do have other clients. They go the boxes at least 80% of my time now, and it is been fun.

(02:48): It’s interesting too, just Russell, the CEO here, we talk about it all the time, how things kind of come full circle because the type of stuff that we do here as a business is very similar to the stuff I was kind of doing on my own for years to try and crack open accounts and get attention and deliver some level of, I used to call it unavoidable, my team, I would say, okay, let’s send ’em something unavoidable. If we really want to work with them and we really know we can help and it would be a good fit, let’s send ’em something that they cannot avoid. And back in the day, we got crazy going after some celebrities and sports teams, et cetera. We went way over the top with some of that stuff. But it works. It takes time, effort, energy. I think it’s more fun, but it definitely works.

John Jantsch (03:36): Yeah, I wrote out about it actually in the first edition of Duct Tape Marketing in 2007, something I called Lumpy Mail. And it was the same idea. I would send things like box that would have a whole bunch of old keys in it or something that’s new. It’s like, what? And then you tie it to the message, and we had one client that was trying to promote their total solution for something. And so we mimicked the total cereal box. I don’t think we asked post, but we did it anyway and we sent it with a gallon of milk, which made it really, like you said, people are like, what in the world is this? It really does open doors. But I can also hear people saying, well, that might’ve cost 40 or 50 bucks a whack. Is that something you can do as a retention thing or do you feel like that’s an approach you can do? Lead generation

Steve Gumm (04:26): Mean both. So for me, the way I look at it is, and part of what we do here at Gilded Boxes is make things scalable. So around budget. Now gifting is different than swag by you really can’t compare the two, and there’s a place for each. I’m cool with both, but I think every business is a little different. I’ve always been in the B2B world, so I’ve been fortunate in that typically lifetime value of a customer. Even the short term value. When you actually talk to a team, and this used to happen to me when I was doing consulting all the time, I’d be like, what is the average client worth? And usually it was a sizable number depending on, I was working a lot of manufacturing, so some of ’em got huge, but then you sit back and you’re, okay, well, what are we doing here? Let’s get a list of the hundred. That would be amazing, and just try to get 20. What if that’s all we did?

(05:13): And it succeeded. And then everyone’s, when you take a step back and really evaluate what you’re trying to accomplish, it just makes those type of decisions a lot easier. If we spend, it doesn’t matter the X dollar amount, you quickly realize that, well man, we could spend all this. If we get one, it’s worth it. So when you break down the math, usually, especially on the acquisition side of things, it works. And once you have a client, that retention side of it, it is all based on value and scenarios, but I don’t think you have to be expensive at all. I mean, what we do here obviously is gifting from design packaging and all that, but I’m also a huge fan of just handwritten letters and anything that shows me that, wait a second, this person actually took the time to think about me, and they’re reaching out. However you do that, it’s just so powerful in a day where with AI and automation, it’s easier to go, okay, 50,000 people click and it sends out. It just seems like that would be, oh, that’s wise. But when you take a step back, it can be very effective in a day where not too many people are doing that type of outreach. It’s just crazy effective.

John Jantsch (06:26): And I think you hit the nail on the head. I mean, I work with a lot of consultants that sell high ticket, high trust is very, very important part of the equation. And when they stop and think about their goals, sometimes onboarding three new clients would actually be hard in a month, but we’re trying to market to 20,000 people. It’s like maybe 10 good ones, 10 good appointments. What would it take to get that? And I think when people start looking at it that way, they probably should start saying, yeah, I guess I better not automate my outreach on LinkedIn.

Steve Gumm (07:01): Right, right, right. Yeah, it’s just too tempting for marketers and salespeople. It’s so tempting just to go for the big numbers because I don’t care, even if it is outreach on LinkedIn to do something legitimately authentic and personal, it takes not a lot of time, but it’s not as easy as just a name and enter. You’ve got to put some effort into it.

John Jantsch (07:22): But I think it really, I, and I know you agree with this, it’s the whole premise here, but I mean, it’s so easy to stand out now doing it because people realize you didn’t automate that. They realize you actually took some time, or heaven forbid, I get these outreach on LinkedIn and people will ask me, somebody literally today asked me, do you still have your agency? I was like, that’s your opener. It’s like, if you don’t know what I had for lunch today, you’re not paying attention. It’s crazy.

Steve Gumm (07:54): Well, you probably get more of ’em than I do, but I get a lot. And so I can only imagine how many you get where they’re just so off base. It’s clearly, I’m just on a database and I’m not a picky either. When I see that stuff, I see people post online all the time and they bash it. I mean, I get it. People are trying to make a living. They think it’s the right solution. I’m not mad at it, but it doesn’t work.

John Jantsch (08:16): Yeah. Well, I tell you, let’s flip it around too, because for that person, and I know you believe in the whole, I want to work with people that we share some beliefs and purpose casting that net to thousands, how are you going to get the client you want to work with, right? I mean, I think that’s as big a part of this as if I take the time to research and look at what they’re doing and look at how we could connect and build trust together, I’m probably going to get the right client. I,

Steve Gumm (08:45): Yeah, and you’re a big phony with a whole book on it about referrals. I think people don’t oftentimes pay attention to the snowball effect of getting the right people initially. If you know that these people are a, you can help ’em. You have a solution that works for what they’re trying to accomplish, their goals, but it’s the perfect where you’re like, man, if we could just work with this person for whatever reason, if you do a good job there, chances are they know people who are aligned a little bit, at least with what they do. And so the referrals not only are, they probably come in more often, but they’re way better.

John Jantsch (09:18): Yeah. Yeah.

Steve Gumm (09:19): Awesome.

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(10:27): So what are you waiting for? Fuel your growth, boost revenue and save precious time by upgrading to Active campaign today. Talk a little bit about, and we can get into the mechanics of how you do it at Gilded Box, but talk a little bit about the concept. Not a matter of sending somebody something really expensive. They’re like, wow, they sent me something really expensive. There’s more to the entire campaign approach to it. Talk about maybe if somebody were thinking about this idea of, okay, I’m going to come up with a Dream 100. What would a campaign that involved gifting look like?

Steve Gumm (11:03): So you could definitely do it in multiple steps, but I think to take a step back for a second, you touched on it has to be something elaborate. Yeah, we do some super high end gifting, but it doesn’t have to be at all. We even say internally, if we do our job, what’s in the box of what you would consider the actual product actually should be an afterthought. The experience that we have done here, and it’s funny, as we were building this, it really was looking at what I had done in the past, what Gil Box was doing currently, and just removing friction. So for example, we handle all of the design because we think that’s critical to the personalization, the entire experience. And we know that is oftentimes a tough spot for a lot of businesses. They don’t have designers, they don’t whatever. So we take that because we want that box.

(11:55): The way we engineer the boxes from the way the products sit inside, it’s all, we have packaging engineers here. That’s what they do. And for us, it’s all about that experience so that when you are doing a gifting campaign, for example, you’re going after your top 100, obviously there’s methods to that. For us, the gifting usually is not out cold. We always recommend build some rapport, share some knowledge, engage on social, give some awareness, and then when you really want to step it up, you can go into a gifting program that obviously once you get a client, then the retention part of that type of effort goes into it. But everything that you would want to do to really wow somebody, we just wanted to make it as easy as possible.

John Jantsch (12:41): So the gift is one component of it. I’ve experienced kind of your process, and one of the things I thought was a brilliant piece, and this is carrying the personalization a step further, is that the box itself had to be completely personal because nobody else, it wouldn’t have made sense to anybody else what you did. But then the note that then had just a QR code that went to a then also personalized video. And I think to me that was a step that took it even farther than just like, oh, wow, I got this nice thing. Now you actually, what was in the box you actually nailed? That’s the brand that I have their grinder and I have their kettle. And so you said you didn’t know that part, or at least I hope you didn’t know that part. That was getting a little too close, but you knew I liked coffee, but that again, I was getting at their components to the whole thing. It’s not just like, oh, send a bunch of boxes out.

Steve Gumm (13:38): Yeah, a hundred percent. I mean, the whole process is really who you’re trying to, what message you’re trying to display. So in that instance, in every instance really, it’s about letting people know that they’re being recognized. Now, when you’re doing this at an enterprise level, of course you’re probably going to minimize some of that. A lot of the packaging and what’s inside is very similar, but we personalize them in a way where there’s still that wow factor in that, oh, they were thinking about me as opposed to something that you’re just giving out. And that really is, there’s a method to the madness, and it all starts with design, which requires a little bit of research and homework on our team’s end to actually nail that. Because when you receive it, even before you open it, we want you to be blown away. Our objective, and we believe this to be true based on feedback that we get, is the packaging itself. That box itself is something people keep just like a gift. And that’s when we know we’ve done our job and is fun. It is the most fun business I’ve ever been a part of by a long shot.

John Jantsch (14:42): Do you have any examples, and maybe you’re not at liberty to share ’em, but do you have any examples of some kind of crazy things? And again, I don’t know if you ever see this, the success end of it, if the client comes back to you and says, that was amazing, let’s do it again. Maybe that’s an indicator, but do you have any kind of case study of somebody doing something pretty cool?

Steve Gumm (15:02): Yeah, and to piggyback on that, we get emails all the time, which is the best where our customers telling us, or even forwarding emails from their customers, like, wow, this is great. We’ve done some pretty crazy stuff. We had a company that was agency working with Chanel, and they were doing a groundbreaking, and we actually did a shovel called the Chave, same branding and same everything, and put it in a pretty big box for them and delivering, of course, it was a huge hit. We were joking even this morning, I was talking to Russell, our CEO over here, how we’ve been doing this for so long. Some of the stuff we’re not blown away with anymore. We’re so used to it. But when you get the responses like, man, that really is pretty cool.

John Jantsch (15:45): And the personalization aspect, certainly technology has helped that come along, but you think about the companies that buy a thousand coffee mugs and they give ’em out to clients coffee mug with their logo on it. Sure. I guess I need a coffee mug. I’ll send it over here. But the technology is such that I can have a thousand clients and send a coffee mug with their logo on it, which to me might be a lot cooler to get.

Steve Gumm (16:11): Yeah, I mean, from a gifting standpoint, it’s one of the things that we’re working hard on the marketing side is communicating the difference between swag and gifting. It is totally different. When you think of swag, it’s more of an advertisement for you for promoting your business, and there’s a place for that. We’re fans of that as well. But when it comes to gifting, you really want to make it about them. So if it’s something, if you know something about their family or their hobbies or something where you can make it truly unique to them, that’s a gift. And we always tell our clients, if you’re going to do some promotion or branding of any kind, leverage the packaging. We do an amazing job at that. But what goes inside, it should be very clear that it’s been thoughtful and you put some care into what you’re delivering because it just makes a huge impact.

(17:00): How often do you get something like that? It’s very rare. To your point earlier, a lot of that old school stuff is very effective right now, but because everyone’s been trained on automation technology, it takes a little bit of effort, and I guess you could call it riskier. I mean, it’s more effective, but it takes much more to even send a piece of mail, whatever it is, you got to put the time into it. You got to print, you got to. So I think people just default that we’ll just send these emails, but boy is there an opportunity in creating experiences.

John Jantsch (17:34): Yeah, and I think the unfortunate thing, or at least the leap that a lot of people make, because there isn’t any risk in sending emails. I mean, if the message bombs, if nobody responds, it’s like nobody’s hurt. Whereas I remember the days of you’d spend $10,000 on a direct mail piece or commit to a year long, $3,000 a month yellow page ad, no idea if any of it was ever going to work. You were stuck with it till next year. So I mean, I do see that people kind have that fear of like, oh, I’m going to out. I’m lay out five, 10 grand. What if it doesn’t work? But I do think that, I’m guessing you probably have anecdotal information on this, the impact may not be filled immediately. Do you find that sometimes the shelf life, so to speak, of the gift or of the idea or the promotion might be for months that somebody’s like, I’m not ready right now, but that’s who I’m calling?

Steve Gumm (18:30): Yeah, for sure. I mean, a hundred percent. It just changes the dynamic of the relationship. And so I think an easy way to think about that is when you’ve put that much time and effort and personalization into something, there’s just some reciprocation there on. If you send me something like that, and let’s say I’m even the wrong target, which we wouldn’t recommend, but even so, I’m going to be much more inclined to at least give you feedback and share where we’re at and what opportunities may or may not be here as opposed to responding to one of the 10,000 emails I get any given week. So the longevity and the opportunities and the doors that it opens can’t be understated. I mean, I know I’m in the business, so it’s like, oh, this guy’s what he does for a living. But we see it time and time again, and we eat our own dog food as well, and it works. We’re creating a couple of fun series coming up of content where we’re going to start to share some of this. Nice. Just because it is very effective, and I think anybody that tries it, whatever you’re doing, if you get more personal and outside of the tech world where it’s more human to human, I can’t express the impact that you can have. It really is amazing.

John Jantsch (19:39): Awesome. Well, Steve, I appreciate you taking a few moments to stop by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. Is there anywhere you would invite people to connect with you and find out more about your work?

Steve Gumm (19:48): You can find me on LinkedIn. I’m just LinkedIn, wherever Those are Steve Gumm. I’ve got a very uncommon last name, so it’s not hard to find me and then, so We have plenty of resources there. If want to reach out to anybody and you’re looking for stuff, we’d be more than happy to help you create some amazing experiences.

John Jantsch (20:08): Awesome. Well, again, appreciate you taking a moment, and hopefully we’ll run into you one of these days soon out there on the road.