After reading a thoughtful post from Sally Church about personally reaching out to business partners during the holidays, I thought it might be a good time to give some pointers on the subject. While sending holiday cards or gifts is an excellent way to stay on the ‘radar’ of clients, potential clients, and partners, you should also carefully consider the message and the way it is delivered. Here are some tips for small companies or departments based on our experiences:
- Compose your list. First determine how many cards and/or gifts you will send. Look through your accounting software, LinkedIn connections, your CRM, ask your team to look through their contacts, and also think about the message you’d like to send. If you want to send a ‘thank you for your business’ card, choose only clients/customers, or segment your customers, partners and potential leads into different lists. Also, you may want to send cards to everyone, and gifts only to a select few–might as well tag them all accordingly at this time.
- Choose your cards. There are myriad companies who will customize cards for you, but you really should order them soon and be cognizant that cards that arrive past Dec. 15th (roughly) are in danger of being forgotten. You can also consider sending e-cards, a more expeditious option which sends an ‘earth friendly’ message about your company. In my opinion, it is best to steer clear of religion–even Christmas trees can be offensive to some people. This is certainly up to you, just a recommendation, and sending ‘Peace on Earth’ or New Year cards is always a good option. Cards that match your branding or using your company font will help to subtly reinforce your company identity, but don’t overdo it as they may appear too much like marketing materials. A photo of your team is easy to include and adds a personal touch. You can also hire someone to design cards for you, but this takes a bit more planning–mark your calendar for October of next year if you want to plan for this.
- Customize your cards. In my opinion, it is acceptable to send cards with a printed message and it looks professional. You should use this opportunity to send genuine well wishes, not to promote a product or talk business. All businesses are made up of people, this is a good time to take a step back and remember that, and be thankful for the opportunity to work together. For more personalization, pass the cards around your office for signatures from your team members. This also helps the team to think about the greater ‘environment’ that your company operates in.
- Choose gifts. You may want to send gifts to some clients or partners. Surpisingly, this may take less planning than cards, as they come straight from the company and the cards are not normally hand signed. Harry and David is a favorite of mine, or you may want to choose a local source which will be more representative of your company. Your clients and partners may even start look forward to receiving your gifts year after year if they are unique enough.
- Deliver. If using mail, this is a no brainer, just remember the Dec. 15th ‘rule.’ Also, if you have local clients/partners, hand delivery of gifts can be a nice touch, and a way to connect with people face to face before the holiday break.
In summary, holiday cards should be considered a ‘no business allowed’ way to engage your clients and partners and truly thank them. They are a reflection of your company, and if done well they can be considered one of your yearly ‘assets.’
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