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Are the Days of the Christmas Card Numbered?
By Caroline Cooper
Saturday, 30th November 2013

Christmas gives us the perfect excuse to get in touch with our valued customers and show our appreciation for their business and stay on their radar, but there’s a problem...

Everyone else is vying for your customer’s attention and it’s easy for your cards to get lost in the melee of all the other Christmas post and events.
Unless we do something to make our cards stand out they’re unlikely to get anything more than a cursory glance and added to the growing pile of cards on your customer’s desk. And of course what happens in the first few days of January?  They all just end up in the bin!
So what’s the alternative?
Start off by picking cards really stand out; not something that is bland and merge in with everybody else’s cards. Choose cards which reflect your brand and ethos, but will also appeal to your customers’ tastes.
You may decide to go down the pre-printed route, and that’s great for all your contact details. But I don’t know about you, but when I see a pre-printed signature I really do question how much a person or business cares about me. Even if you have a pre-printed signature the very least you can do is to handwrite their name and a personal note. You may want to make reference to a recent purchase, to their family or an interest.
If you’re a leisure business you might use it as an opportunity to help them reminisce about their experience, if you provide a professional service you might use this as a gentle reminder when their next updates/renewal/check is due. We might simply want to include something topical or to make your customer laugh.
Just say something that shows you’ve really thought about the them as an individual, not just signed all your cards on a production line.
Make it last
To avoid your card going in the bin make it relevant to January beyond.
You can include valuable information or tips. For example if you’re a florist you might share your tips on caring for their Christmas plants such as cyclamen or poinsettia. If you’re an accountant you might send tips that will help them with their tax return or end of year accounts. In you’re a garage you might share your top tips on caring for your car in the freezing weather. All things they’ll want to read and hopefully keep.
Include an exclusive invitation for your customers. Not vouchers; everyone else sends vouchers – be different. What could you host in January or February specifically for your loyal customers? Something of value which they couldn’t get from any of your competitors.
Maybe a preview or taster of your own products, new services, refurbishments, or stage something with a  joint-venture partner to give them exclusive access to something not available on the high street. Who or what do you have access to, maybe an expert in your field to speak or give a demonstration. Your aim is to give them something to look forward to in January.
You might even go so far as to send a tangible item. If you’re going to send a gift obviously the cost of this needs to be proportional to the lifetime value of your customer. If your customer is spending hundreds or maybe even thousands of pounds with you over time then a small gift (providing it’s something they will value) is going to be a worthwhile investment.
As with your cards the more you can personalise this to your customer the better. So if you are a photographer a calendar made up of 12 of the best shots would make it truly personal gift. If you are a graphic designer some small keepsake incorporating their logo would be an easy option. If you’re a restaurant you might package together your top 10 recipes for customers to create at home. You get the idea…

Caroline Cooper is founder of Naturally Loyal who helps businesses to get more sales through their existing customers. Caroline specialises in working with hospitality, tourism and leisure businesses, helping them build loyalty through giving customers outstanding experiences and staying on their radar to trigger repeat business. She is author of the ‘Hotel Success Handbook’.

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