“Sending a holiday card is an important part of business that lets your customers know you value them,” says Tanner Agar, founder and CEO of The Chef Shelf, an online gourmet retailer in Fort Worth, TX.
You know you want to send good tidings to clients — and maybe even vendors and prospects. But what you don’t know is whether to take the old-school approach and send paper greetings or go the new-fangled route and make it digital.
The format you select should reflect you and your brand and be in line with your intended audience’s preferences. After all, if your customers aren’t highly engaged with technology, a digital card won’t do much for you or them. Conversely, if your audience spends the bulk of its time interacting with screens, a printed card could easily go unnoticed.
Printed Holiday Cards
“Printed cards are still relevant in our digital world, simply because they’re not digital,” says Mitch Dowell, founder and creative director of Baltimore, MD–Washington, DC, area marketing, design and branding company Branding Experiences. “They are something that is held in the human hand, and therefore more human senses are at play — sight, touch, even the smell of the card. Digital formats only appeal to sight, and possibly sound. Printed cards also don’t get lost in an email inbox or get caught by an automated spam filter where the intended recipient will never see them.”
Paper greetings create an even stronger connection when they include personalization. “In many firms, competitive advantage comes from differentiation of customer service,” Agar says. “It’s the handwritten, personal cards that are most meaningful, and therefore the most effective. A financial advisor we work with sends a gift every year on the ‘anniversary’ of our working together and includes personal messages such as, ‘Enjoy the scuba trip next month.’ His customers never leave. It also doesn’t hurt that the card is attached to caramels.”
If you’re sending a sleigh-load of holiday greetings, writing them by hand may be out of the question. But you can still add a personal message without getting writer’s cramp. While boxed holiday cards are usually less costly, they’re also less unique. With custom-designed and -printed cards, you can design cards to match your business’s brand. Staples makes it especially easy with thousands of templates to choose from. And if you order early, you can even get same-day pickup at the store so you don’t have to wait for them to be shipped to your office. If cost is a concern, consider going with a holiday postcard to save on printing and postage.
Digital Holiday Cards
Some business owners and their customers prefer digital communications.
“For digital, we recommend highly personal multimedia content,” says Lara August of Robot, a creative agency in San Antonio, TX. “Link to videos and social media, and use your card as an opportunity to really show some personality. Record your staff singing a song, telling a story, handing over a donation to a favorite charity, etc.”
Digital cards have advantages beyond the creative options. Since nothing gets cut down to make pixels, and since you don’t need an envelope or stamp, they’re environmentally preferable. They may also be less expensive, enabling you to spend more on design or put the savings toward year-end employee bonuses or charitable donations. That said, don’t think digital cards are free. The same design considerations apply in addition to technological requirements like responsive design — and these items do carry price tags.
Remember the Spirit
Regardless of which format you choose, Dowell says to remember the spirit of the season. “Holiday cards can unexpectedly be your biggest marketing challenge of the year, because they need to be perceived as the furthest thing from ‘marketing’ that the recipient has ever received from you,” he points out. “Be sincere in your approach to your holiday cards and strive to have that sincerity come through in the card itself. No sales pitches, no calls to action, no coupons or discounts, and no business cards included.”
Your first trade show or expo is an important rite of passage for small businesses. A good event can lead to valuable orders, partnerships and exposure.
Offer a more personalized customer experience by using the following three strategies, which involve social media, mobile apps and customer analytics.
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