The tradition of sending commercially produced greeting cards during the Christmas holiday season dates back to the 1840s. (See the note at the bottom of this post about the Christmas card pictured above, the first documented commercially produced card.) In other words, sending out holiday cards is a tradition that’s not going away soon. Sending holiday cards to customers and clients takes a few weeks of planning, so get started no later than, well, now. Here are seven helpful tips contributed by SmallBusiness.com users.


1. Don’t use holiday cards to promote holiday sales.

Holiday sales promotions are some of the most important parts of a retailer’s year-long marketing activities. But don’t confuse promotional mailings with the reason for sending out a holiday or Christmas card. A seasonal greeting card should focus exclusively on a non-sales-oriented message you believe appropriate for you and your customers. A simple thank you and best wishes for the coming year works.

2. Keep it simple and appropriate.

Because of the multi-ethnic and religiously plural society we live in today, many businesses keep their greetings focused on “the season” or “holidays.” Each business or business-owner is unique, however, so it is impossible to make a general recommendation for what is correct for all small businesses. That said, tasteful, traditional images are recommended if you aren’t sure what is approprirate.

3. Personalize the message.

Many print shops and websites offer digital printing that enables you to include your company name or logo (keep it small, however). A photo of your employees can also be included—a good idea if most of your customer interaction is via phone or email. The best personalization is this, however: A brief handwritten note on each card.

4. Don’t scrimp.

A greeting card reflects on you and your business. If you can’t afford a little extra for a quality card, perhaps it’s better to skip sending a card this year.

5. Update your list.

Use this as a chance to clean up your contact list. Add cards for those you’ve done business with in the past year.

6. Get them out early.

Your customers may take time off around the holidays. Check the calendar and mail your cards so they arrive before most people head out of town.

7. Don’t email e-cards to customers unless you are an e-business.

While we are fans of communicating with customers using email, emailing holiday cards to customers and clients communicates something other than the sentiment you hope to convey. That said, if your business is all online, you can make up your own rule for this one.


 

Note about the Christmas card displayed above: This card is believed to be the first commercially produced Christmas card. It was designed by John Callcott Horsley for Sir Henry Cole in 1843. Cole is credited with devising the concept of sending greetings cards at Christmas time. One thousand were lithographed, and of those just a dozen are known to have survived. (Source: Encyclopedia Britannica)