Since we’re on the topic, it’s also time to think about your end-of-year greetings/thank you plans for your clients and colleagues. Obviously these plans will vary depending on your country, customs, budget and time limits, but here are a few suggestions for spreading some cheer, gratitude and name recognition.
Holiday greeting basics:
- Send something. OK; I know this sounds pitifully basic…but I think that even if you only have time to pick up a box of cards at Target and sign them, you should at least do that. I’ve heard a few clients comment (in a good-natured way!) that they notice who sends something at the end of the year and who doesn’t; and you know which of those groups you want to be in!
- That being said, go for a card that is high-quality and has a fairly universal image and message. Unless your clients are members of a specific religion or cultural group, it’s best to pick a holiday card with a semi-generic “season’s greetings” message and an image that isn’t associated with a specific holiday. In our industry I think that the “around the world” motif (i.e. a globe with a dove, flags of various countries, “peace” in multiple languages, you get the picture…) is a little overused but can work if you find the right card. I think that two good choices are charity-themed cards (such as those from Unicef) or locally-themed cards (this year I ordered Colorado mountain scene cards for my clients and colleagues).
- Avoid pre-printed mailing labels. Address your cards by hand; remove any trappings of mass-production from your holiday greeting efforts.
- Don’t forget your colleagues, especially those who refer work to you. For many of us, these people are some of our most powerful marketing tools. See below for ideas on how to really single them out!
Holiday greetings, beyond the basics:
- Personalize. If you have time, write something specific about that client or colleague. How you really appreciate their friendliness and attention to detail; how flattered you were to be selected to translate their annual report; how their trust and referrals have really helped your business grow. If you’re a business or agency, think about having all of your employees sign the cards; I always enjoy it when my agency clients do this.
- Send gifts to your top clients and your top-referring colleagues. These don’t have to be extravagant. Something like special chocolates, tea, a wreath or better yet, products that are made in your local area! Personally I would go with something unique that you select and send rather than something ordered from an office gifts catalog.
- Specifically thank your “multipliers.” Thanks to Grant Hamilton of Anglocom for teaching me this term! Especially if you work with direct clients, you probably have an advocate within the company who loves your work and encourages her/his superiors to use your services. Think about sending two cards or gifts: one to the company as a whole and one to your multiplier.
- Here’s a wacky one: a holiday letter to your clients. Here in the US, it’s common for people to send a letter with their holiday cards, telling about what happened over the course of the last year. These letters are sometimes maligned for their braggy, “don’t you wish you were as happy as we are???” tone, but personally I enjoy reading them. Obviously you want to write a separate holiday letter for your clients; one that details your professional progress such as conferences, awards, large projects, publications, etc. and also thanks your clients for their trust and confidence in you over the past year. I don’t know…this one came to me while I was jogging this morning. Any thoughts?
- And then there’s in-person visits at which you can present your holiday gift, thank the client for their business and find out how their year went. I think this is a high-investment, high-value strategy. I know of one medium-sized agency that visits nearly every one of their local clients during the holidays. Huge time outlay? You bet! Huge returns? Probably; especially if the competition is sending a low-quality card with a pre-printed mailing label.