Holiday messages that relay sincere thanks and gratitude, used effectively, build visibility and relationships with business customers. Holiday greeting cards are a good way to reconnect with past customers and rekindle sales, maintain and foster current business relationships, and create new ones. Says Jacqueline Whitmore, author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Individuals (2011), “Cards leave a lasting impression and let others know you’re thinking about them.”
Thus a business can gain enormous value from sending out holiday greetings each year. Customers appreciate a company that has taken the time and effort to select an attractive card, craft a personal message, and then hand-address and mail holiday cards. Colleagues and employees also appreciate messages of thanks and gratitude. Such messages can help motivate staff and maintain a positive workforce.
To send effective holiday greetings, consider these 12 tips gleaned from etiquette gurus:
- Start early to order cards and update names and addresses. Ideally, update contact information ongoing, including land addresses, email addresses, and telephone numbers.
- Evaluate whether an e-card makes the most sense. “In a world of rapidly and disposable communications, a tangible thing has some actual weight and adds significance to what you want to say,” says Daniel Post Senning, great-great-grandson of Emily Post and co-author of Emily Post’s Etiquette 18th Edition (2011) “Is it more valuable to you (a) that a [customer] . . . hangs up your card in a reception area [or keeps the card on his/her desk], or (b) that your business appears green and economical?”
- Consider the recipients. Are your customers or business associates tech-savvy or not? Are they the type of people who frequently check their email or primarily work offline? Consider that an emailed greeting may be quickly glanced at on a hand-held device and then deleted. Also, before sending e-cards, test your cards on all types of hand-held devices.
- Send out your holiday greeting cards as early as the day after Thanksgiving but no later than the second week in December. Cards mailed late may communicate an unintended message, so mail early. Your card will be displayed longer and keep you in the recipients’ minds during the holidays.
- Spend a little extra for high-quality greeting cards. Let your customers know they are worth the extra expense. After the holidays, when seasonal items go on sale, you can purchase cards for the following year.
- Keep your message secular and tasteful. For example, chose a card with a “Happy Holidays” greeting and a winter scene rather than “Merry Christmas” and Christmas trees. Select attractive, distinctive greeting cards that are also more tailored and formal than your cards for family and social friends. Chose cards with brief messages.
- Select cards whose messages are sincere and professional. Make sure that the cards you select support your other branding efforts and differentiate you and your organization in a positive way. Says etiquette expert Diane Gottsman, owner of The Protocol School of Texas, “People want to do business with people [who] value them and make them feel important during the holidays and throughout the year.” But they also want to do business with people who share their organization’s Core Values.
- Include a personal note and always sign the card—even if your name is printed. Keep your note simple. Wish the recipient well and, as appropriate, thank him/her for a specific kindness or opportunity, or otherwise personalize your best wishes.
- Do not enclose a business card. Handwrite your name, personal message, and the name of your company (unless already imprinted). Including a card may suggest that the card is just a marketing message rather than a personal holiday greeting.
- Do not enclose your family’s holiday newsletter. If your family creates a holiday newsletter, do not send it to co-workers or customers unless you have a very close personal relationship with them that includes each other’s family members.
- Place each card properly in its envelope. Insert the folded side into the envelope with the design face up toward the flap.
- Do not use computer-generated mailing labels or a postage meter. Handwrite each address, using the correct honorific before the person’s name (for example, Dr., Mr., Ms., or The Honorable, and then the person’s full name). Mail the greeting card to the recipient’s office. Attach an attractive secular seasonal stamp.
And here are 3 tips for personal holiday greeting cards:
- Include your return address to help your friends keep their mailing lists up to date.
- Start early enough to use a favorite family photograph to create a very personal card and keepsake.
- If you’re really pressed for time, let your favorite greeting card company help. For example, you can order your cards online and even have the company print your name and holiday message, address the cards, and mail them for you. If you’d rather handwrite a note, many companies will print your name and address the cards, then ship the cards to your home for your personal touch.
© Copyright 2013 The Writing Center, Inc. All rights reserved. About the authors: Carol Klein and Sandra Nutting, founders of The Writing Center, Inc., provide training in effective business and technical writing to major corporations and organizations worldwide. Contact Us with your business and technical writing questions or to discuss your writing training objectives.