Do the holiday cards you receive every year just become clutter? Chances are the cards you send face a similar fate. The following are ways to maximize the value of your holiday cards. First of all, if you are not sending out cards, you should. Cards build and maintain business relationships.
They are sent to clients, referral sources and firms and businesses you interact with regularly. Cards express appreciation for the recipient and keep your name in their minds for future business.
Cards are delivered in different formats these days, notably email, snail mail and online videos. You should tailor the medium to match the type of recipient (i.e., clients, businesses you deal with regularly and those with which you have minimal dealings).
Email cards work best for those with which you have minimal contact. They are a simple reminder of your firm and an efficient way to express holiday cheer.
Email cards can backfire though as they generally lack a sense of personal touch. They may also end up in a recipient’s spam folder. Even if the recipient opens the card, it is likely deleted immediately or never re-opened. If you are emailing cards, consider doing so in conjunction with a gift to a charity in lieu of physical cards, which can be communicated in the email. Not only will this help the card stand out more, it provides the recipient with a good reason why they are not receiving a physical card. Handwritten notes or newsletters also may generate good will if you happen to donate to a charity they approve of or support.
Physical cards are highly effective in communicating your appreciation for the recipient. They have a more personal feel than emailed cards, are not as easily discarded and are usually displayed for some time.
As many firms and businesses receive dozens of cards, making yours stand out is important. A Google search for unique Christmas cards will bring up countless examples that you can order. Including a personalized, handwritten message or a newsletter from your firm is also highly effective. Like a handwritten follow up note after meeting a prospective client or employer, such cards will go a long way to engraving your firm in the recipient’s mind. It also increases the chances that your card is read rather than merely displayed at the reception area.
If your firm has a good relationship with clerks and assistants from other firms, or if they have done something that you appreciate, send them a separate card. This can help down the road when you are scheduling a date or making requests of that office.
To ensure your cards arrive before Christmas, mail them by the beginning of December. Add to your list of recipients throughout the year so that you are not scrambling to compile names at the last minute. If your cards arrive after Christmas, it suggests that you were not organized enough to send them on time, which leaves a bad impression with the recipient.
Sending a physical card means you can also send a physical gift. Depending on the nature of your relationship, you may want to send gifts to your clients, suppliers and other businesses. A gift basket, coffee cards or baked goods can go a long way in enhancing your relationship with the recipient.
Consider sending cards at other times of the year (e.g., St. Patrick’s Day, New Years and Thanksgiving). This keeps your firm in the recipient’s mind and helps you stand out from the crowd.
Some businesses create video holiday greetings posted to their site or elsewhere online. These are usually entertaining and can make a strong, lasting impression. While it may take a significant amount of effort to create these videos, a collateral benefit is the team-building experience for your firm. As videos are not personalized, you may also want to send cards to those that warrant a personal touch.
While some may consider holiday cards unnecessary, they can be a cost-effective way to build and maintain relationships. People want to do business where they feel recognized and appreciated. For just a few dollars each winter, you can remind clients, colleagues and other individuals that you value them.