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Hear the Bells

100 Percent Open Rate! Rethinking the Holiday Card

By Dennis Goris

“Another end-of-year chore. What should we send out? Does anybody even care?” Those thoughts come to mind whenever it’s time to start thinking about sending a holiday card.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

What have your clients heard from you this year? Was your last communication an email with legal documents, or … an invoice? If you think about it, the holidays are the perfect time to (literally) put something in your clients’ hands that will remind them of you in a personal way.

Before Signing Off on Your Holiday Card

Consider this: A printed card in the mail cuts through the clutter with a near 100 percent open rate! Here are a few more things to think about.

1. What should you say? Keep it simple. Messages about health and prosperity and the new year are safe, but should be customized. Of course, it’s best to avoid religious themes and images that exclude the beliefs of others. Thanking your clients for their business reminds them that they are important to you — not as a revenue stream, but as people.

Gorus2. It’s not a sales pitch. Yes, your card is a business-to-business greeting. But nothing kills the sincerity faster than turning it into a marketing piece. Don’t do that. This is one time when your ROI is not going to be measurable. Be sincere.

3. Catalog card or custom design? If you are going to the trouble and expense of producing a custom card, make sure it’s tailored to your practice and to you. It should be something no one else could use with their name on it. Ask yourself whether anyone else, including your competition, could say the same thing about themselves.

4. Humor works. Humor is allowed during the holidays. It allows you to show some personality — something sorely missed in the era of email and conference calls. You don’t have to go crazy, but a little self-deprecation might make you more likable. People do business with people they like.

5. Don’t do this. Unless you can afford to do something really exceptional (like a video of you and your team performing a skit spoofing your business), resist the temptation to blast out a generic electronic card. This is not a knock on email marketing — we’ve gotten amazing results with our digital campaigns. But e-cards often come off as something that took less effort — the least you can do, literally. Is that the message you want to send to the people who provide for your livelihood?

6. Get personal. Being personal is what makes your holiday message effective. In a pile of mail, what do you open first, the cards addressed with preprinted labels or the handwritten one? Consider hand-addressing the envelopes and add to the impact by using live stamps, not the postage meter.

At a minimum, sign every card by hand. If you cannot do this, don’t send them. Go the extra mile and write a short personal note in each. Time spent paying attention to your clients is time well spent.

Illustration © Cartoon courtesy of Dennis Goris.

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Dennis Goris

Dennis Goris is president of Goris Communications, a firm focusing on branding and business-to-business communications for professional service firms, associations and non-profits. He works with organizations to identify and promote what makes them unique. In addition to many of the nation’s largest advocacy organizations, Dennis has directed campaigns and programs for major law firms, and corporate brands including American Express, Amtrak, AOL, Carfax, GE and Google. Dennis remains media agnostic with a preference for plain English in business communications. Follow him on LinkedIn and on Twitter @DennisGoris.

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