Christmas is just around the corner, and whether you celebrate it or not, the event happens to coincide nicely with the end of the calendar year — a great time to thank those who have supported your business over the last twelve months.

Not only that, but a well-timed Christmas message may end up reviving a waning business relationship. Given we’re halfway through November, we’d need to work fast to meet printing and postal deadlines, or alternatively, build an electronic Christmas message, if that’s preferred.

Let’s look at options. The traditional Christmas card is still well received. There are a few rules with these, though:

  • Try to opt for your own professionally-designed company Christmas card, so that it’s unique to your business (and there’s no risk of a competitor sending the same image!)
  • For the personal touch, hand-sign rather than print signatures in the card.
  • It’s better to send earlier rather than later. Leaving it until December 20th isn’t a wise move. Ideally, the card should arrive in the first week of December.
  • Cards should fly solo, rather than share the envelope with extra marketing material that makes the card less genuine.
  • It’s fine to include a logo, but keep it small or put it on the back so that it’s not the main focus.
  • If you must resort to off-the-shelf cards, buy them through a charity who uses the profits to help others.
  • Consider a different concept, such as the products MOO offer, with varying shapes and an individual touch.

Electronic cards are great as well, and are considerably better for the environment. They do, however, suffer from low open rates, and may get read by people other than those it was actually intended for. Indeed, it’s possible less people will see it, compared to the paper versions which tend to sit in office reception areas, being read by all in the weeks leading up to the break.

If you do send an ecard, consider using email campaign software; it can provide a text version if required and track email open rates. There are plenty of options available on the market.

When designing that email card, consider your audience wisely, as well as the technical limitations of email. To see which email clients support what CSS, have a gander at the Email Standards Project web site.

Prefer to send something more substantial? There’s always the usual bottle of wine or gift hamper. Perhaps consider trying some branded promotional gear, such as USB flash drives with your logo, or similar.

Make sure though, that you either buy quality products or forget it. There’s nothing worse than spending all year building a reputation for quality, only to damage it by sending some cheap pen that never works, or has your logo printed badly on the side.

It’s unfortunate, but clients will remember it — more often than the times you worked all night to get a web site live for them.

This post first appeared as part of Issue 422 of the SitePoint Tribune, a very popular email newsletter that I was co-editor of. Thanks to SitePoint for allowing me to reproduce the work here.

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