Have Yourself a Merry Little Holiday Card?

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For many business professionals, creating a holiday card that is seasonably significant, is politically correct, aligns with corporate brand standards, and is professional and personable can make the most cheerful cherub feel like their heart is two sizes too small. While some of us may argue that the whole holiday card rigmarole isn't worth the hassle, many of your clients and customers really do appreciate the special thought.

So if you're going to send holiday cards, you might as well make it worth your while. To help you out, I asked a few businesswomen in West Michigan for their tips on taking a company holiday card from "ho hum" to "ho ho ho!"

Go the extra mile.
Everyone I spoke with agreed: Holiday cards should have a hand-written signature, preferably with a personal message.

"If you are sending to a client or donor, then take the time to personally write a note. For me, that is meaningful and strengthens the relationship. It moves the card from being generic to an effective cultivation tool." —Nancy Brozek, Grand Rapids Civic Theatre

Make it shine.
Don't just buy stock cards. Customize your design to reflect your company culture and mission. The card should further establish your brand and stand out from the crowd. West Michigan Woman's parent company, Serendipity Media, stages a photo of our staff in fun and unexpected settings each year for the cover of our company card.

"Make it something you would want your clients to post on their wall, office or fridge. It's a great opportunity for subtle brand promotion." —Cindy Smies, Varnum Consulting

Make it actionable.
One trend that's catching on is including an actionable element. For instance, a few years ago Gilson Graphics' holiday card encouraged recipients to visit their website landing page, where one could order a customized reindeer decoration that was then later hand-delivered by the sales staff.

"Take a note out of 834's book and send along a drink recipe or ornament you can make out of your card. The more creative, the better." —Kim Bode, 834 Design & Marketing

Do's and don'ts of e-cards.
Right or wrong, e-cards suffer from a negative perception of being sent as an afterthought by those who feel obligated to participate in the holiday card game. But with the right messaging and care, e-cards can be a cost-effective and memorable touchpoint.

"This year, the SBDC will use an e-card, and we will record a video for the message." —Jennifer Deamud, Michigan Small Business Development Center

Do the unexpected.
Perhaps you prefer to send a card at a more unexpected time of the year? Maybe "I love you" cards on Valentine's Day or "We're lucky to know you" cards on St. Patrick's Day?

For anyone who has ever borne the burden and responsibility of the company holiday card, you know it's more complicated than it appears. But the effort it takes to participate in this beloved tradition results in a positive, warm-fuzzy feeling to share with those most important to you and your business.

"The holiday card is about taking the time to thank others for their partnership and continuing to build the relationship with your clients." —Jennifer Maxson, Varnum Consulting

Written by Lisa C. Young, marketing director, West Michigan Woman.


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