Boosting Business Relationships with Holiday Cards
The holiday season usually brings good tidings and cheer that businesses like to pass on to their customers and staff, but for some businesses this year, it may bring the realization that finances are tighter than ever.
Is this the year to cut back on holiday cards?
Marc Wagenheim is the product marketing director for Hallmark Business Expressions, a unit of the greeting card giant that focuses on helping small and medium-sized businesses build stronger relationships with customers and employees through greeting cards.
He says Hallmark, which puts a lot of money and effort into researching consumer and business buying habits, has found that businesses say they use greeting cards as a "kind of investment in their business...They're investing in customer relationships with the hopes that it will pay back."
The company has conducted research that found at least half of customers who received holiday cards from businesses say they are more likely to continue doing business with that company versus another one.
Zogby International recently conducted a national survey for Tiny Prints, an online business that offers personalized cards and stationery. Zogby found that the majority of small business owners who typically purchase holiday greeting cards, newsletters and corporate gifts don't plan to reduce their holiday budgets for 2008. Eighty-eight percent of those surveyed said they typically spend up to $500 on holiday cards and plan to keep it that way. Forty-one percent said the state of the economy will affect holiday spending, but only 5 percent plan to nix greeting cards and gifts completely. The remaining 30 percent plan to cut back on the quantity or quality of their holiday greetings.
"In tough times it's more important than ever to connect with clients," said Wagenheim. "I suspect businesses will be making tough decisions as the year ends and if sending a gift basket isn't cost effective for you this year, a greeting card is cost effective."
He offers some tips for businesses that want to make a lasting impression through cards:
*Handwrite a message. "It will mean more than if it's just a stamped thing. A card is something you can personalize and the stronger your message the more it will stand out."
*Spell the recipient's name correctly. "Spelling a customer's name incorrectly on a card is one of the worst mistakes you can make."
*Send Thanksgiving cards. "It's the nature of the holiday to say 'thank you' and the card won't get lost in the droves of Christmas cards."
*Send cards early. "Oftentimes, whoever receives the card will leave their cards up in the office until the end of the year. So, by sending early, you will have your name or brand in front of the recipient all season."
*Consider eco-friendly cards. "The single biggest trend in the last year or so is a movement toward greener solutions...Cards with recycled content make a statement."
*Consider secular designs. "There's a movement toward more secular designs. The intent of a greeting card is to strengthen relationships and if you're not clear if a customer practices a particular religion, it's better not to guess wrong even though customers tend to be very forgiving of those kind of mistakes. However, if you know which holiday people celebrate, it's great to be more specific."
By Sharon McLoone |
November 3, 2008; 11:32 AM ET
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