Holiday communications are a great way to build and maintain business relationships. But, how do you choose the right format and message? You do not need expensive gifts, detailed embossing or shimmery foil. What you do need is to show your appreciation with style and a message that's uniquely your own. Here are some dos and don'ts to ensure your well-meaning gesture makes the right impression.
- Be professional.
- Remember that the quality of your holiday card is a reflection on you.
- Include a personal handwritten message. Instead of “Merry Christmas,” you might write, “All the best to you and your family in the New Year, Dan!”
- Consider including a photo of your team – it helps clients feel like they know you better. Keep it tasteful, fun and informal.
- If you have a small office, the card should be signed by everyone who interacts with the client.
- If you have the time / budget, have your creative partner develop a customized design.
- Consider sending a gift with a meaningfulful theme that reflects your core value proposition. (See more on gifts below.)
- Instead of communicating at Christmas like many companies, consider sending Thanksgiving or New Years cards to avoid religious snafus and stand out from the crowd.
- Avoid silly cards. You may think a funny joke or a naked Santa stuck in a chimney is entertaining, but not everyone will share your humor. Make your best impression without comedy.
- Never send cheap Christmas cards – they make you look cheap.
- Eliminate misspellings. Spell each contact and company name correctly.
- Do not print a huge logo on the cover of your holiday cards. The card should communicate a genuine, heartfelt message. It should not feel like a sales pitch.
- Do not forget to mail your holiday cards in time to arrive during the holiday season. December 15th is the custom cut-off date for Christmas cards. Allow extra time for international mailings.
- Do not forget to say, “THANKS.”
Are holiday e-cards appropriate?
If your business relationship is connected through e-mail, sending an electronic holiday card is appropriate. However, if e-mail is not your sole means of correspondence, you should send a traditional holiday card.
Are gifts a good idea?
Business gift giving is challenging, and with the downsized economy, many companies are skipping gifts altogether. If you choose to send a gift, focus on quality, practicality and meaning. If you're sending a pen, make sure it's of high quality and include a note that gives meaning to the gift – eg, “Wishing you thousands of signed contacts in 2011.” Send something that will be used. If you work with multiple people in the office, food is often universally appreciated. Find a high-end bakery in the client's neighborhood and arrange a surprise delivery for brunch one day. If you want to go all out, consider sending a four-piece orchestra for noon-time entertainment. Just make sure to coordinate with the office manager to ensure good timing.
What about calendars?
Although they're used a lot, calendars are still one of the most effective ways to keep your name in front of your client year-round. Consider a format that works for your target audience. For example, large 2-by-3 foot wall calendars are perfect for commercial clients who need writing space to schedule freight deliveries or employee vacations. A small 3-by-5 inch table tent flip calendar is convenient for office clients. Think about your audience and then choose a calendar design to best meet its needs.
The holiday season offers a great opportunity to communicate with clients and build relationships. Just follow these simple rules to ensure that your holiday communication makes a positive impression.