As the holiday season approaches, businesses across the country are trying to decide whether to send out holiday cards. Many regard this tradition as an essential part of business etiquette and networking.
For others, it may seem like a waste of time or money. But sending out holiday cards can be a productive use of resources, as long as it’s done effectively and appropriately. Depending on their goals, companies may choose to send cards to clients, customers, business partners, investors, and employees.
Sending cards to customers and clients is a great way to show you care, but it also reminds them of your business or services so that, as the next year comes around, your company’s name is already in their mind. Distributing holiday cards is a great way to retain clients and keep customers coming back.
On the other hand, many businesses use holiday cards to reach out to investors and business partners. These cards are typically nicer and focus on fostering a deeper relationship.
Instead of trying to keep a customer coming back to your business, sending out a holiday card to partners and investors means you’re thanking them for their continued support and showing you value their partnership.
Holiday cards are also a great way to signal employee appreciation. A personalized note shows each employee matters to you, and to the success of your business. They can also do wonders for boosting morale and creating a positive work environment.
While sending out a holiday card can be useful for client outreach, networking, or employee appreciation, there are many aspects companies sometimes fail to consider. And making a mistake in any of these areas can turn a kind thought into a nightmare.
Be sure the holiday card exchange works for your business, not against it. Here are a few tips to maximize the impact of holiday card exchanges:
Don’t Overlook the Value of Planning – Buy in Advance
If you’re worried about the costs associated with sending hundreds of holiday cards, purchase them early in the year. Some card companies have sales in January on bulk-order holiday cards.
Don’t Dismiss the Facts – Know Where to Send the Card
If you only know the card recipient through his or her business, be sure you send the card to the person’s office, not their personal address.
Don’t Procrastinate – Send Them on Time
To ensure your card is delivered in time for the holidays, send it right after Thanksgiving. If you wait too long, your card may not arrive until everyone returns to work in January.
Don’t Forget the Assistant
It’s a good idea to send a separate holiday card to your business partner’s assistant. The extra thought will go a long way, especially since assistants are usually in charge of scheduling meetings and forwarding messages.
Don’t be Careless – Use Spell Check
Be sure all company and client names are spelled correctly. Nothing makes partners feel less important to your business than when they see their company name misspelled on a holiday card.
Don’t be Too “Salesy”
There’s some debate about whether or not to include a business card with your holiday greeting. For some, a business card looks impersonal. The key is to make sure your name and business are apparent.
Don’t Overlook a Personal Touch
Some people have found that hand writing at least some element in the card goes a long way toward making the client or partner feel like you took extra time to show your appreciation.
Don’t Settle for Blending In – Stand Out
People receive hundreds of holiday cards each winter. If you want to stand out to your clients, customers, or business partners, choose a card design that distinguishes itself from the crowd. Minted recommends ordering from a unique designer to guarantee a memorable holiday card.
Don’t Make Religious Faux Pas – Remain Neutral
It is vital to avoid religious and cultural faux pas when you send holiday cards off to hundreds of people. Since you’re unlikely to know the religious affiliation or cultural background of every one of your customers, business partners, and employees, consider using a nonreligious and culturally neutral holiday card instead.
Don’t Make Assumptions
Use winter scenes such as evergreens, snow, or animals to avoid appearing to make assumptions about the symbols people associate with the holiday season.
Don’t Forget Other Holidays as Well
Another way to break out of the crowd is to send off cards during an entirely different time of year. Send Thanksgiving or New Years cards, so you do not have to compete with the hundreds of other businesses sending holiday cards in December.
When used effectively, holiday cards can be a great way to connect with employees, business partners, and clients. Use the tips above to ensure your holiday card exchange promotes your business and has a positive impact on your network connections.
Christmas Cards  Photo via Shutterstock