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Investor days are a great way to engage with prospective analysts and investors. The planning and preparation may be daunting, but the IR benefits can be meaningful and long-lasting. Amid all the work in developing content and helping speakers to hone their presentation skills, one of the seemingly minor but highly vexing questions we get asked often is: “Do we need to give out attendee gifts?” If you’ve ever wondered the same thing, here are some ideas to keep in mind ahead of your next event.

Wait, are companies still giving gifts? Yes! Despite the popularity of hybrid and virtual events, in-person attendance for investor days continues to be strong and companies are showing their appreciation with all kinds of swag.

What are some popular choices? You can’t go wrong with something simple and utilitarian, like coffee mugs, pens and notebooks, fleece vests, almost anything that can be branded with the company’s logo. After all, it’s the thought that counts.

Sounds pretty boring, any other ideas? Depending on your line of business, product samples may be an option. We’ve worked with a laser company that gave out laser pointer/pen sets, a data storage company that provided external storage devices, and a toy company that gave out games to the joy of the parents in the room. Alternatively, you could get creative with something representative of your business, culture, or growth strategy, such as a toy truck for a logistics business, an umbrella for an insurance provider, or a customized paperweight for a materials science company. But note that the more unique the item, the more lead time the vendor will need.

What if we want to splurge to make a big impression? High-priced gifts, such as personal electronics and high-end computer bags, are not unheard of but can be problematic for at least two reasons. First, investors may wonder whether a company that spends lavishly on gifts is profligate in other SG&A spending as well. Secondly, both buy-side and sell-side firms typically have strict rules about gifts. For example, the CFA Institute’s standards of practice limit gifts to “token items,” while FINRA’s guidelines cap the value of such gifts to $100 per recipient per year. We once heard from an attendee who had to decline a complimentary bottle of luxury skin cream because it lacked the host company’s logo. Corporate branding, while making the gift more valuable from a marketing standpoint, actually makes the item less so in the eyes of some compliance folks.

Any other pitfalls? Whatever you choose, be sure your guests can easily carry the items with them when they leave. Offering gifts that are too big or awkward may result in your team having to lug a lot of leftover items back to your office. This includes gifts that may be hard to take through airport security. We once worked with a company in the housewares space that thought a set of their high-end kitchen knives would be popular with attendees. TSA thought otherwise. If a gift cannot be transported in carry-on luggage, cross it off your list.

What if we just don’t want to bother with gifts? Have no fear, we have worked with companies, particularly those with an ESG mandate, that, in lieu of a gift, made donations to relevant charities in the name of each investor day attendee. For example, an online education company might consider a gift to an organization that provides school supplies to underprivileged children.

Whatever you decide, remember that gifts can be a nice touch but are never more than the cherry on top of an event that will require months of careful planning and preparation. To ensure that your investor day is everything that it can be and should be, contact the experts at SMA.

Nicholas P. Manganaro, Esq.

Nick is a seasoned corporate communications professional with expertise in IPO presentation development, roadshow and listing-day support, issues management, internal communications, media engagement, investor days, and investor perception studies. Nick prides himself on his writing and editing abilities and excels in helping clients to distill complex and technical source material to produce clear and compelling communications for targeted audiences.