This is the time of year one begins writing and sending Christmas cards. In thinking about the business-to-business cards I've received in the past, I'm reminded about what makes both exceptional marketing communications to customers - and what is average, normal, quickly discarded and forgotten.
There are basically three types of Christmas cards we have all received that represent how NOT to communicate with customers.
The Non-Personal, the Super Generic and the Its All About Me
- The Non-Personal Christmas card is the one you typically receive at work from vendors. You know, selected from catalog of 100 options, mass-printed, non-denominational (heaven forbid we offend someone by actually knowing them well enough to know how they celebrate Christmas), with a formulaic saying and possibly a signature. Nothing like taking the time to say "we barely care."
- The Super Generic. In good fun, one option is to purchase the same .99 cent card pack from your local discounter and send it back. It is not about the money - that's not my message. My mother used to work with me cutting out paper grocery bags. I'd color on them and we would fold out an envelope and ta' da - instant personalized creativity. If your message is you care - maybe a phone call would communicate that message better?
- It's All About Me. The corporate version of this is sending a card with images of its own product or shiny building edifice. You sell widgets. I am impressed. Another common mistake is 1,200 words all about its own wonderful success the past year. Don't forget a closing lacking any acknowledgement you know me as a person or what my business has been doing.
I know it's difficult to personalize each and every card. I know it takes hard work to devise something exceptionally unique. But I also know how meaningful it is to feel special and cared for and the difference it makes in building a customer relationships. Today, I ran across this post on a cruise message board.
"We just received our latest gift from Oceania - a very nice wine caddy...stuffed with goodies. We've received an 'appreciation' gift every year from Oceania, since the Regatta Inaugural. Always unexpected, always very nice, and one of those unadvertised perks of being an Oceania Past Guest. Just another reason why we hope to have many more years, and many more cruises, with Oceania."
- Design Crafters Announces New Line of Original, Designer Photo Christmas Cards (prweb.com)
- How to Make Christmas Cards (answers.com)