Are you facing the Business Christmas Card quandary? Do you send them or not?!
Why do the practicalities of opting out of this long standing tradition make us feel Grinch-like? According to Wikipedia: “ Many businesses, from small and local to multi-national enterprises send Christmas cards to the people on their customer lists, as a way to develop general goodwill, retain brand awareness and reinforce social networks. These cards are almost always discrete and secular in design, and do not attempt to sell a product, limiting themselves to mentioning the name of the business.” So much for tradition and holiday cheer – that sounds almost ritualistic!
A little research produced some interesting facts: With the advent of postage stamps in 1840, the first commercial Christmas cards were printed in London in 1843, first printed in America in 1875. Hallmark joined in with Christmas cards in 1915 and claim that approximately 1.5 billion cards are now sent annually! I would guess that those large client lists make up a good number of that total. You could consider it your civic duty – you’re keeping the US Postal Service in business!
Options, Considerations – Decision makers or breakers:
Those of the email generation are probably very accepting of e-cards – based on estimations of 300 million now sent annually! There is no cost involved, they’re a quicker alternative to mailing, and the availability of countless design and customization possibilities make them a viable option. After all, it remains “the thought that counts” right?
We have to take into consideration the practical (Grinch-like) facts that business Christmas cards can be considered somewhat impersonal (does the intended actually see them or are they just used as reception area decoration), they’re costly (especially in these tough economic times), and not too good for the environment . That whole GREEN issue has to be considered – stats say that 2 billion cards can wipe out 300,000 trees in the U.S. alone – yikes! That can be countered somewhat by purchasing cards of 100% recycled materials. Other green card choices include tree-free papers, plantable papers and those produced with vegetable inks – who knew?!
Arguably, there are benefits to sending customers a Christmas card – it shows you appreciate their business and that can go a long way in continuing that working relationship. Your sales force would probably agree that this long standing tradition, as a means to keeping the business name out there, is key. It may even serve to evoke the image that your business is sound, successful and can still afford to mail out cards… Do I hear a counterpoint?
Unfortunately, image gets into the mix. While perusing the various card sites, I was somewhat surprised at the suggestions for the need (and resulting expense) of foil lined envelopes, size, personalization, embossing, etc. Again, isn’t it the thought that counts?
Are you sending out business cards this year – why or why not – I’d love to get the feedback!