Christmas is fast approaching, and although the current state of the economy has led to many people cutting their personal Christmas card list, some businesses may still be considering sending out Christmas cards to their clients or customers. While correspondence is a crucial example of business etiquette, I do not believe that businesses should send out cards during the holiday season. Cards provide an additional expense, have little return on investment, and may alienate some of your customers.
I was thirteen the first time I received an office holiday card. It was from my orthodontist, and featured an extra-large tooth sliding down a hill. ‘Happy Holidays!’ the card announced, from Dr. I and his staff. In this case, the business in question had to special order the holiday cards. Someone had to take the time to address the envelope and mail the letter. Then there is the matter of stamps. A stamp now costs .44 cents. You are paying out an entire dollar for every two cards that you send.
Of course, there are many companies that do not worry about small expenses like stamps. This is a valid point, except that there is little return on investment in “Christmas card marketing.” My orthodontist didn’t receive any more money. I felt bad that I hadn’t seen him in so long, but I never went back. Most people receive a ton of holiday mail. A card from someone they do not know personally may not make it out of the junk mail pile. Even if it does, it could be lost in the holiday hubbub.
Some business owners may argue that they are not marketing. They are simply embracing the holiday spirit. This is a wonderful sentiment, but choosing the wrong holiday card may alienate part of your target audience. The obvious danger lies in choosing a holiday-specific card. “Merry Christmas,” for example, may anger those who do not celebrate the holidays. A generic “Happy Holidays” can be equally distressing for those folks who feel the word is becoming too politically correct.
Businesses should keep their customers in the forefront though out the year; they should not try to make up for annual shortcomings with a folded sheet of paper. It sounds silly, and from a business prospective it simply does not make sense. It is an added expense with little return on investment, and it risks alienating some of your customers.