Should you send cards and gifts over the holidays? Lots of questions come to mind: Are you sending them to clients or to friends? How old are your clients? What do you want to accomplish by sending something? If the roles were reversed, would you like to receive something? The answer to all these questions should be “Yes!”
The Case For Giving
You might think segmentation is the first step in deciding what to send. Are we talking clients, prospects, friends or family? Treat them as one large audience.
Let’s start with sending cards: It’s a sign of respect, a recognition the relationship has value. It’s a way of keeping in touch with people you met long ago. It’s a way to stay on the radar. For clients, it’s another touch. Cards have a sense of permanence. They often stay on the mantle or a table for the holiday season. Some people save and store them after the holidays are over. If the recipients aren’t clients, friends and family are also prospects. Sending cards gets your name in front of them.
How about gifts? Who doesn’t like receiving a present? It’s something to unwrap with anticipation. In many cultures, gift giving is a sign of respect.
Gifts are nominal, yet not insignificant. Although you might think your client has everything, there are gifts for people who seem to have everything. Your effort will be appreciated.
Four Tips For Sending Holiday Cards
Because we are a multicultural society, you may choose to send cards that have a generic “Happy Holidays” greeting. Or you may choose to stick with the traditional Christmas theme.
Here are four tips to get the most from your holiday card project.
1. Get them out early. Someone once told me, “People remember the very first card they receive each season.” To shoot for an early December arrival, mail the cards immediately after Thanksgiving.
2. Make the cards as personal as possible. Many businesses send out cards with a typed greeting inside, sealed in an envelope with a typed adhesive label and a postal machine imprint. This screams “Untouched by human hands!” It’s like a robocall. Write a greeting to the client on the interior of the card. Have your entire team sign the cards. Attach a holiday themed stamp to the envelope. Ideally, the card is hand-addressed, although that’s not critical if you’ve followed the other steps.
3. Keep a record of cards you receive. Match the names against your master mailing list. Keep extra cards handy. If one arrived from someone not on your list, send one out immediately. Misaddressed cards will come back. When that happens, go through the same process after rechecking the address.
4. Just say no to e-cards. Sending cards sounds like lots of work. The idea of e-cards may enter your mind. Chase that idea away. The holidays are the season for renewing and making connections. A card that can be deleted with one mouse click doesn’t count. Neither do social media posts. Make the effort.
Tips For Holiday Gift Giving
The holidays are the season for giving. Gifts are a sign of your respect for the relationship. A gift with a personal touch shows your interest in the individual. A gift can also be a reminder of your relationship.
Here are some gift-giving tips.
Let’s start with cost. The industry and your firm have rules. You need to be in compliance, lest your gift look like a rebate on fees. Clients cannot give you lavish gifts either, lest they appear to be a payment.
Ideally, gifts are presented personally. Let’s say your client invites you to their holiday party. Your gift is clearly marked, so it’s not another anonymous package on the hall table. It’s wrapped, not brown bagged. Your gift is a statement about yourself. It will likely be opened in front of others.
If the gift can’t be presented personally, it will need to be delivered. Saying “come to the office to collect your gift” is not an option. This means the gift and shipping may be two distinct expenses. You might find a great gift item, but if it’s bulky and heavy, shipping is an issue. Many online companies offer free shipping. Amazon is an example of a firm that allows you to easily ship to different addresses when ordering online.
gift, the better. It shows you put thought into its selection as opposed to buying a one-size-fits-all gift.
Your gift represents you. It speaks to your professionalism and the value of your relationship with the recipient.
Let’s start with food items. Clients have office lives and home lives. Cookies, coffee, pretzels, popcorn, chocolates and candy can easily be shared. If they entertain at home for the holidays, you might recognize your gift when you visit.
Gifts for their children are an idea for the person who has everything. People want to give their children the best life possible. You might have set up your client’s college savings plan. A gift for the child is a way of acknowledging that relationship is important.
Books are another route. Your client might have favorite authors. New cookbooks are released for the holidays. Books about the economy or investing have an audience. Visiting your local bookshop when the author is signing copies is a brilliant idea. So is writing a message inside the front cover, so your client remembers who gave the gift.
Magazine subscriptions are another easy gift. You can go online to order the subscription. Then buy the latest copy of the magazine. Tie a ribbon around it and include the subscription confirmation.
Does your client have a Christmas tree? A unique ornament is a gift that will be saved and displayed year after year.
Flowers are a simple, yet overlooked gift. If your client entertains, they always need extra home decorations. Flowers can highlight their buffet or dining table.
Another idea is to make a contribution to your client’s chosen charity. The cause means a lot to them. Your gift acknowledges “you get it.”
Wine and liquor are popular gifts, but you need to understand sensitivities. Is someone cutting back on their alcohol consumption? Assuming that’s not an issue, champagne is a festive choice.
Make the effort. Send holiday cards. Buy gifts for clients and friends. Your generosity will be appreciated.