Business greeting cards provide a great opportunity to express client appreciation and create a memorable experience.
Business greeting cards represent probably the most recognized and accepting practice amongst businesses both nationally and internationally. Used for sending sincere greetings and gestures to customers and clients over the holidays, a business holiday card naturally provides many benefits and advantages to businesses that utilize them. In the contrary, when businesses misuse (or abuse) business holiday cards, these benefits may never be realized or worse, damaging consequences may bestow upon their business.
The following short article reviews many of the benefits and advantages of sending business greeting cards. Additionally, this article will review some trends; provide a number of tips; and list points on etiquette associated with sending your business holiday greeting cards.
Since the early 2000’s, the rise of technology has changed the way businesses manage and deploy their business holiday greetings. The advent of the print card’s electronic counterpart, the e-card, has created a viable and respected alternative to business holiday card.
While many businesses have yet to embrace e-cards, latest trends show that many businesses have been utilizing both print cards and e-cards for sending their holiday greetings to their customers and clients. Some businesses will alternate every year by using a print card one year, then an e-card the following. Other businesses will send both styles by either sending a print card to a select demographic and an e-card to another demographic. There are even businesses that send both styles to all their contacts and let them decide which flavour they prefer. Finally, let’s not forget to make mention of the many businesses who have transitioned to exclusively sending e-cards for their holiday greetings.
Both the print card and e-card share many of the same mutual benefits. However, each does have their own unique benefits. As the remainder of this article focuses on print cards, if you would like to learn more about e-cards, check out our pages on corporate holiday e-cards and seasonal e-cards.
Sending business greeting cards should be about signalling appreciation and the value placed on customers and clients. They improve the perception of your company in eyes of your customers and clients. They increase the likelihood that one of your customers will select your company over a company who they didn’t receive a holiday card from. Also, it has been said that in troubling economic times, companies who do not send out holiday greeting cards increases the likelihood that the company may be viewed as financially unstable.
How cost-effective are business print cards anyway? This is a great question that can easily lead to many different answers. The best approach in determining cost-effectiveness of print cards is to break down the total cost into the individual expenses that make them up. Thereafter, you should determine all the varying options available for each expense.
The design process can be one of the most expensive aspects of your business holiday card's production cycle. If you have the resources to design a high-quality print card internally, you can save a lot of money. Outsourcing the design process, although not always, can be very expensive and easily run into the thousands of dollars. Of course, the cost of the design process depends on many variables. The major one is the level of complexity in the design (folds, irregular shapes, concept, etc);
Postage can sometimes be as expensive as (or, even more than) the cost of the cards themselves! Unfortunately with postage, there aren’t too many ways to save money. Some postal services will provide bulk mailing for a reduced rate which could save you some money. It’s best to check with your local postal service to see if they offer bulk rates.
The time it takes to add a personal message, sign, address & seal an envelope, and stick a stamp on it is a cost in itself. If it takes you 2 minutes to perform the previously noted tasks on a per card basis and you have 240 cards to put together, you’re looking at 8 hours of labour. If you valued your time at $15/hour, the total labour cost to put together your 240 cards would be $120. Now, if 10 of your colleagues each have to do the same thing for their customers, the labour cost quickly jumps up to $1200!
There are some ways you can cut down on the labour costs. One way would be to have a generic personal message pre-printed on all the cards so all you need to do is sign it. You could also opt-out of sticking a stamp on each envelope by dropping all the sealed and addressed envelopes off at the post office and pay for delivery in bulk. This way, the post office will usually stamp postage on them. Sure, we’re talking about savings seconds of time here, but don’t forget that 60 seconds saved per card means you just cut your labour costs in half! Making these types of labour cutting adjustments may not be applicable or the best decision depending on the type of customers your serve and other factors. Be sure to use your best judgement when making cost-cutting decisions for your business greeting cards.
With the advancement of technology and the internet, there are many cost-effective solutions to business print cards available to organizations. Moreover, there are “all-in-one” websites offering services that handle the entire process from printing to delivery. As an example, some sites will allow you to: select cards form their extensive online catalogues; personalize them with your own unique message; upload and place your logo; and upload and place your actual hand-written signature. Additionally, there are some that will accept your list of recipients with their mailing addresses and actually mail your holiday greeting cards out for you! Overall, this method can be very cost-effective as it almost completely eliminates the labour cost associated with designing your corporate holiday cards.
Over the years, the world has (and continues to) become more and more environmentally conscience. With this, and generally speaking, there are many who take a side by calling out businesses who send holiday cards as "polluters" and "don’t care about many trees that were cut down" just to so they could send cards to their clients over the holidays. The truth is, many trees are cut down to produce the paper that business greeting cards are printed on and it does have a negative impact on the environment.
With this negative impact that business greeting cards have on the environment, many vendors have been proactive in addressing the concerns of environmentalists, ‘green-thinking’ businesses and our planet in a few ways.
One way greeting card vendors have been addressing environmental concerns if by offering paper types that include recycled materials in varying quantities. By providing these recycled paper products, businesses can be assured they are greatly reducing the negative environmental impact their business holiday cards may have contributed towards.
Another way environmental concerns are being addressed is by donating to tree planting and other environmental programs. For example, some vendors take a portion of a sale’s proceeds and donate it to a tree planting program. In essence, such programs may plant one tree for every 100 print cards you order.
With business holiday card vendors providing these environmentally conscience options, businesses can feel proud of the choice they made to help protect the environment. A choice their customers will also notice.
Business holiday cards create an opportunity to increase sales in both the short- and long-term. In fact, in many instances, it’s quite an amazing experience to witness such huge results being derived from such a small and simple gesture.
Clients and customers love and appreciate a company that remembers them and expresses their gratitude. It is this love and appreciation that will give a company a huge hand in gaining future business.
In the short-term, a business holiday greeting card may arrive precisely when the recipient happens to be looking for a product or service you offer. It could very well be that the recipient remembers your company, but forgot (or, never knew) you offered the product or service they happened to be looking for. Instantly, the arrival of your holiday greeting card at this precise point in time can yield a new sale.
For the long-term, a business greeting card should be viewed as an investment in the company’s future. People remember catchy company slogans and clever mottos. Similarly, they also remember quality business greeting cards. Although a recipient may not have an immediate need for a product or service you offer, by sending the business holiday card now, you’re planting a seed of opportunity for the future. When your recipient’s needs change in the future, the high-quality business greeting card you sent them earlier will help them remember your business - greatly increasing the chance they bring their business to you.
Including Promotional Materials & Marketing
Establishing unsolicited contact with clients and customers during the holidays to express appreciation and gratitude is common and an accepted business practice. The typical packaging business greetings are delivered in make them easily identifiable as a greeting card before a client or customer even opens it. The same goes for direct marketing (e.g. flyers, brochures). However, direct marketing items are often greeted by the waste basket before getting any real attention at all.
Business greeting cards provide an effective vehicle to deliver promotional materials and marketing. When a client or customer opens and reads a sincere gesture of appreciation and gratitude, they are in a pleasant state of mind and are more willing to listen to what you have to say – making them more likely to take a minute or two to review the promotional materials included within your greeting.
Overall, by pairing promotional materials and marketing items alongside (or, integrated within) a warm holiday greeting, the chances of them being seen and given more attention increase substantially. Be careful not to overdo it by having items falling out from all ends of your greetings as this can leave a bad impression. Be conservative and ensure your materials are well targeted to the clients and customers receiving them and plainly make sense to be included in your business greeting card.
Etiquette & Tips
There are a number of, often unspoken, ‘rules’ and guidelines that should be considered when sending business holiday cards. With the ever-increasing size of our global economy and the large number of cultural groups connected by business in one form or another, these rules are evolving. With this evolution, there are now more aspects to consider when sending your business holiday greeting cards.
When selecting (or designing) a business greeting card, be sure to settle on one that expresses a level of formality consistent with your organization. It should be an extension of your current business culture that your clients and customers have come to know and identify you with.
You want to make sure you include everyone on your list. Reach out to your networks and connections and send your business’ holiday greeting to as many people as you can. You don’t want to miss anyone and potentially garner a reputation that you don’t appreciate your clients and customers.
When ordering your business greeting cards, be sure to order them early on – in the pre-season if possible. By doing this, you can avoid the holiday rush and ensure you have enough time to sign, address, and mail all your business greeting cards. Many companies that provide business greeting card services are ready to start taking orders July 1st.
Business greeting cards should be sent starting December 1st and up to the last day in the second full week of December. Sending in November is usually too early and just before the holidays is too late. If you miss the cut-off, maybe start thinking about a New Year greeting (if you don’t typically send one anyway). If you normally send a Happy New Year greeting card, then you should send your holiday greetings earlier in December so they don’t arrive too close together.
Business greeting cards being sent internationally should be sent no later than the first week of December.
Often, business greetings get mailed to a client or customer’s home instead of their office. This is an acceptable practice only if the sender has met the client or customer’s family. Otherwise, you should send business holiday cards to the client or customer’s office.
When addressing the recipients, you should maintain a certain level of formality. If the recipient is married, the envelope should be addressed to ‘Mr. and Mrs. John Smith’. For women who use their maiden name at work and married name in private life, you should address them using their maiden name if you are sending the greeting to their office. If you are sending the greeting to their home, use their married name.
The paper used for your business greeting card should be of good quality. The greeting card is a direct reflection of your company. If you use a cheap stock of paper, it will speak the wrong message to recipients.
Have two or more people review your written greetings for spelling and grammar before you send them out. This follows the same line as paper quality. A business greeting card riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes says to recipients that you don’t take the time to make sure something is correct. This may be viewed as the way you carry out business. Not to mention, it may look like you don’t appreciate your clients or customers enough to double check you spelled their name correctly!
With the different cultural groups coming together to do business these days, sending a certain style of business greeting card may work for one group, but not another. This is an important aspect to consider because sending an image of Christmas could greatly offend someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas. It’s safe to stick to non-denominational winter or nature imagery. Additionally, a considerate selection of this type illustrates respect to people of other religions.
If you are able to, give your business greeting cards the personal touch. For example, write the addresses on the envelopes and the greetings inside by hand. Remember to include the actual name of the recipient in the business greeting card. Also, use your real signature and avoid your printed name unless your signature is illegible.
If your company normally send outs coupons throughout the year or free promotional goodies, be sure to include some in your business holiday greeting.
When purchasing your business greeting cards, be sure to spend an appropriate amount of money on them. Typically, you want to spend an amount that justifies the amount of revenue a customer brings in for you. If a client or customer brings in tens of thousands of dollars each year, don’t spend a measly dollar ($1) on a business greeting card. If they bring in millions of dollars each year, you should be sending hem a very high-quality, hand personalized, business greeting card, amongst other things to further express gratitude and appreciation (e.g. gift baskets, dinners, etc).
There really are thousands-upon-thousands of sayings and greetings that can be expressed. Many prefer to be short and sweet. Here are a few simple, non-denominational sayings to help get you on your way.
The benefits and advantages associated with sending business holiday greeting cards are large. Most businesses use the winter holidays as the single largest marketing opportunity in their fiscal year. This year, be sure to take what you’ve learned here and apply it to your practice of sending business greeting cards.