I’ll admit it – Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday. Aside from the commercialism of it all, I like the vibe in the air of everyone feeling all nice,giving and reflective. But, as a travel consultant, it’s also a very rewarding time. I re-connect in a special way with all of my clients, whether or not they have booked travel with me this past year. I do this by sending a holiday card.
Sending a holiday card to your clients is an effective way to reinforce your relationship. Yet, it can also be expensive. The client’s mind is like a steel trap around the holidays – they remember who sent a card, and they remember who sent a NICE card. A holiday card is a great, low cost way to remind clients that you’re alive, and that you’re thinking of them. It goes a long way to fostering the client relationship that is so important.
Keep the following thoughts in mind when you consider sending holiday cards to your own clients.
Don’t be cheap. You don’t have to spend a lot on customized, foil-stamped, die-cut cards with all the trimmings if you don’t want to. On the other extreme, don’t be tempted to buy a box of $1.00 cards at the local Dollar Tree! Clients recognize quality and they see the quality of card you send reflective of their importance to you. Also, your card is representing you and your company – sending a cheap card might not give the impression you want to make.
Respect religion. It’s a good idea to remember that Christmas is a religious holiday for many. In fact, nearly every major world religion, and many denominations in Protestantism, has some connection to the Christmas holiday. Not everyone practices a religion or celebrates it around Christmas, so a religion-neutral card such as “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” is a better choice, especially if you are unsure about your client’s affiliation.
Filter your list. So who do you send cards to, anyway? If you’re like me, your client list is broken down by those who booked travel with you this year, those who didn’t, prospects, vendors, and more. What part of the list do you send — some or all? Since the whole point of sending a holiday card is to cultivate the relationship you have with the client, I suggest sending a card to every contact on your list. Did they book travel with you this year? Send them a card. Did they not? Send them one, anyway. Send one to your favorite supplier rep – it’s all about relationships!
Make it personal. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the last item. If you’re sending a card to someone who booked with you the last year, hand-write a comment in the card. “Thank you for working with me this year! I’m excited to see what you’re planning for next year!” If it’s a client that has booked with you in the past, but not last year, the comment can be tweaked just a bit. “Thinking of you this holiday season – I’m excited to see what travel plans you’re making for 2010!” Just don’t sign each card, stamp it, and send it. Make it personal to whom you are sending it; it’s a small touch, but it goes a long way.
Check the addresses. This is especially important if you have a large mailing list, and postage costs would be high. You want to be sure client addresses are correct. If you’ve kept up to date with your database, this is a no-brainer. If you want to be doublesure, you can utilize an address verification service such as Concept Marketing Group. This isn’t recommended for smaller lists, as the cost of the service would be more than the postage!
Market with the card! Don’t forget to include your business card in the holiday card; in fact, include several. Typically, I try to get cards with die-cut slots for my business card to slide into. Sometimes, though, that’s just too expensive, so I’ll tape a card to in the inside with double-stick tape, and include a couple extra inside for the client to pass along.
Mail ’em early. Don’t take the risk that your card will get caught in the inevitable holiday mail rush. Get them done early, and get them mailed early. I typically mail my cards out no later than the first weekend in December. This means my cards are bought and my mailing list confirmed by Thanksgiving.