Christmas???? In October????
That is right. It is time for your organization to start thinking about holiday cards and gifts for your clients, prospects and "friends of the firm". The sooner you start planning, the less of a financial hit your budget will take, and the annual "headache factor" will be reduced (not eliminated...just reduced). If you have not already begun this process, you are already late.
The first thing to remember is that it is NOT "Christmas"....... it is "The Holiday Season". Do not use the term "Christmas Card" to describe those fancy folded and gold embossed greetings that you will send via snail mail. The political correctness police have won this discussion.
Most law firms, accounting firms, companies and other organizations think that their holiday card is a great marketing tool. They invest many hours picking the right design, and compiling extensive mailing lists. Many must think that they are the only ones who send such items. The truth is that your clients will receive dozens, if not hundreds of cards. They may not even notice you sent one.
My recommendation is that if you are going to send cards, you commit the time to write a handwritten personal note in each one. Yes, this is not the easy way out, but it will stand a chance of being noticed....as most come cards with only a signature or worse.....a printed greeting. (if you are just going to gold emboss your name...save the money and send it to me).
And don't cheat and have your secretary forge your name on all the cards (no matter how good she is at recreating your signature). There are no shortcuts to good marketing. Write a few sentences thanking them for their business or sighting a success you shared in 2005 and sign your own name. A real effort stands out. A short cut is seen as just that.
As for gifts, I am a big fan of gifts, because so few companies actually do it. Yes, there is a financial commitment, but the right gift will stand out. A local accounting firm orders a custom block of chocolate with their logo molded on it (remember they order this in September for December delivery). It is the best tasting chocolate I have ever tasted and everyone who is on their gift list talks about the unique and delicious gift all year long.
Another choice is to have a client holiday party. You can do these big or small, at your home, office or a restaurant. The trick is to schedule it early in the season (that means early December) as to not be in competition with all the other holiday parties, events, etc.... I have on friend who rents out a small restaurant and invites 40 - 50 couples (his biggest clients and a guest) to join him. He always finds great restaurants and rents the whole place on a Monday or Tuesday night. Once you have been to one of his Holiday parties, you always want to come back!!!!
The sad part is that most companies wait until the first week of December to decide on what to do. At this point you are limited to whatever is left in stock, and no restaurants with party rooms have any open dates. This means these companies either skip the whole thing (bah hum bug) or do it second rate.
If your company has not talked about this, and you are reading these words.... RUN, get to it NOW!!!
Have A Great Day.
PS- Give all your employees and clients the perfect holiday gift: A copy of my new book "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Grow and Keep Your Business Relationships" (New Year Publishing 2005). Available at www.thomsinger.com.