Christmas is a great time to make time to get around and visit clients, not with the expectation that you’ll make a sale, but to thank them for the business they have given you throughout the year. And one of the simplest expressions of good will and appreciation is the humble Christmas card.
These seasonal icons have been around since 1843, when just over 2000 were designed and printed in England, then sold for a shilling – about 10 cents in today’s currency, but much more in value back then. Postage was one penny, or about a cent.
How things have changed. Time itself is in short supply; postage and printing cost so much more now. Should you just consign it all to the digital age and outsource your message via the inbox? Here are my reasons why I believe you should eschew the e-card, and take a more traditional line.
- There has been a move towards e-cards in recent years, delivered by email as either a link or attachment. Many company and business servers are set to block such mail; your client may never know how much you mean to them.
- Spammers and hackers have been quick to seize on this seasonal flow of e-cards with false links leading to phishing sites. A legitimate-looking ecard, once it is clicked and/or downloaded, might actually be spyware, spam, or a computer virus. It may cause embarrassing images to pop up on your computer, or hi-jack it and send on further bogus e-cards from your address.
- Paper greeting cards are tangible; they have ‘weight’. They’re proof of how much you value the relationship – you took the time to choose a card, personalise it, address it and send it.
- E-cards may appear an immediate solution, but their place in the professional world can be questionable. As a rule they appear impersonal and may show a lack of sincerity;
- E-cards can be a reminder of our fast paced world; consider that many people view e-mail as an annoyance, and associate with it only as a business tool that has to be endured. Is that the thought you want to be tagged with?
- Some people view the e-card as an environmentally acceptable alternative, but given the amount of recycled material that goes into cards, and that cards themselves go to through organizations like Planet Ark, it is not a particularly strong case.
- The 20/80 rule is a truism of business. Sending a Christmas card to that 20% that provides 80% of your work is a great way to engender goodwill, retain brand awareness and reinforce your relationship with them on a social level.
- Finally, choose a card that is discrete and secular in design. Don’t try and attempt to sell yourself or your products through this communication. Deliver your seasonal best wishes with sincerity and leave the business for another day – this one belongs to a higher cause.