4 Trends in Small Business Holiday Cards

by Margot Carmichael Lester, Staples® Contributing Writer

Whether you purchase boxed holiday cards or design your own custom-printed holiday cards, you want to make your small business’ seasonal greetings stand out from the rest of the crowd. Great design is vital, of course, but there are other ways to make your company’s holiday card special.

“Creativity requires pushing the package, and when you’re brainstorming, don’t censor or try to edit,” says Lara August of Robot, a creative agency in San Antonio, TX. “Come up with as many ideas as possible and then edit as a second step.”

Consider these trends as you brainstorm your business holiday card plan:

Donations: The winter holidays are the perfect time to be a solid corporate citizen by donating to a charity or cause that holds meaning for you, or that benefits or appeals to your community or target audience. “It shows that you’re thinking of the larger holiday meaning and not just using the card as another marketing touchpoint,” August says. If you send a small number of cards, consider donations in each recipient’s name. If your card list is long, make a single personally significant contribution. Some businesses do this in lieu of sending something fancy, opting instead for a lower-cost postcard or digital greeting that references the gift. Others include a QR code or link to the organization’s fundraising page to encourage customers and clients to donate, too.

Nontraditional Colors and Fonts: Many businesses are moving away from traditional holiday design elements to make their cards unique. “Pastel colors are popular for almost all categories of card, especially holiday cards,” says Kyle Hall, vice president and general manager of PNI Digital Media, a Staples business partner based in Vancouver, BC. “We’re also seeing neutral colors such as beige, gray, white and cream paired with vibrant photos and text.” When choosing colors, remember that some ink colors may not show up well on very dark backgrounds, and don’t choose hues that clash with your branding. “Fun typography has become very appealing, plus adding your photos or your own motif to the envelope gives them a personal distinction,” Hall adds.

Multimedia: With so many tools available, almost anyone can create a good-looking multimedia holiday greeting, which is why they’re growing in popularity. “Multimedia can range from elaborate custom animation to simple in-house videos or recorded songs,” explains August. While you want your multimedia to be professional, it doesn’t have to be flawless. “Authentic is winning out over perfectly polished, so feel free to be a little less perfect,” she says. Of course, these assets are easy to share as digital greetings, but link shorteners enable you to easily include links to them in paper cards, too.

Personalization: Personalization is a huge business buzzword and the same applies to holiday card trends. The idea is to make mass-produced messages feel more targeted based on data collected about each customer. But you don’t need a big-data program to take advantage of this trend. If you’re not sending a lot of cards, you can still write a note on each greeting. But if you send a bigger volume, consider Web-based applications that make personalization easier. PNI helps Staples customers personalize greeting cards (and more), and stkr.it allows you to include a code in holiday missives that leads to a Web page, video or audio recording you create specifically for each recipient. “Personalization allows you to easily create highly individualized messages to your customers while retaining the real-world appeal of a physical card,” says Mike Newman, president of New York–based stkr.it. “That level of personalization demonstrates a focused commitment from you to your customer.”

Stay True to Your Brand

Ready to jump on one or more of these holiday card trends for small businesses? Great! Just remember one thing before you go all in: “Your holiday card should reflect your brand’s voice and values,” says Christy Delehanty, content lead at PandaDoc, a digital document company in South San Francisco, CA. “It’s easy to get swept up in new trends like the cutesy video card or the slideshow set to twinkling music, when often simpler is better. Make sure to consider it from all angles, and whatever format you choose, make sure it jibes with your marketing messaging.”

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