The holiday season is a perfect time to solidify business relationships — express appreciation to existing clients, reconnect with old clients, and communicate with potential clients. Your greeting card, if sent in a thoughtful manner, can be a subtle but effective marketing tool for your organization, and can express to your contacts how much your company values its relationship with them. Below are some general business etiquette rules to consider.
Send your holiday cards as early as possible following Thanksgiving.
The first cards your clients receive are usually the ones they remember the most — and they are displayed longer! Mailing your holiday cards early also ensures that your good wishes arrive before the recipients take time off during the holidays or the company closes during the holidays.
Send a holiday card to all the key people on your contact list!
Your business holiday card is an excellent way to 1) keep your company top-of-mind and 2) let your contacts know that you’ve thought of them during the holidays. Their firm may not be doing business with you today but may need your services in the future, or this contact may refer you to a colleague. And don’t forget — your contact’s administrative assistant should be a key person on your list.
Send holiday cards which communicate appreciation, good wishes and prosperity.
A safe bet is to stay with “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” themes. Send a card which reflects religious or cultural themes (Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa) only if you are completely certain that the holiday is observed by the card recipient.
Address your greeting cards appropriately.
Always use titles on the envelope (Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., etc.). For women business associates, the standard title used in the U.S. is “Ms.”, unless the recipient has a professional title (Dr., Senator, etc.) or indicates a preference for “Miss.” or “Mrs.”
Be sure your contact’s name and company address are up-to-date.
If the card is being mailed to the business address, address it only to your business contact (unless the spouse also works there).
If the card is being mailed to the home, add a personal touch by addressing it to the family (“Mr. & Mrs. John Smith” or ” Mr. and Mrs. John Smith and Family”).
Keep up with any changes (marriage, divorce, death), which may affect the way your card is addressed.
Personalize, personalize, personalize!
1. Sign each card. Even if the card is pre-printed, it is a smart move to write your signature and a short note in the card. A simple hand-written note such as, “Thanks for your business this year! Sam” goes a long way in telling the client you really value the relationship.
Assume the card will be displayed and read by others in the organization — therefore, keep your note professional and short. Sign only your name (include your spouse’s name only if he/she has met your business associate).
If different departments are sending greeting cards, order your printed greeting cards in smaller batches – each batch printed with the personalized greetings and signature of the individual (or department) who is sending it.
2. Use hand-addressed & hand-stamped envelopes. Use hand-applied stamps instead of metered stamps to reduce the appearance of “mass mailing”. It is also more personal to hand-address the envelopes. If you have too many to hand-address, use the fancy script-style fonts on the computer, or use clear address labels instead of the opaque labels.
3. Differentiate your company! Enclose a photo of the team members who worked on your client’s business. This is often used in photo cards. However, enclosing a photo inside a regular holiday greeting card will leave a lasting impression on your client.
Elizabeth Montgomery writes for IncentiveAmerica – a marketer of gifts and incentives for employee recognition programs, business recognition programs and branded promotional programs. For additional articles visit incentiveamerica.com