Have You Ordered Your Christmas Cards Yet?
You might think I’m joking, but there is a serious note to this question. It’s not because I think we should start celebrating Christmas in October – I’ve been seeing ‘Book now for Christmas’ signs at hotels for months! However, when it comes to planning your marketing, you can learn a lot from key seasonal events or dates, such as Christmas.
I promise not to fill this issue of Scribbles with unnecessary festive cheer, so do carry on reading. There are some unusual alternative ideas at the end!
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Have You Ordered Your Christmas Cards Yet?
If you’re a regular reader of Scribbles you’ll know that I’m not a huge fan of Christmas. I think there is far too much hype and spending and that we’ve lost the real focus on what the celebration is really about. I don’t like receiving email cards from people who send the same card to hundreds of people without any thought, claiming to send money to a charity instead. I don’t like the fact that supermarkets start selling naff decorations (that only end up in landfill) before we've even got past Bonfire Night.
There is, however, one thing I like about Christmas (other than all the time I can spend in my local pub) and that’s printed Christmas cards. I love receiving them and every year since my business started, I've sent personalised cards to all my clients, many of my suppliers, prospective clients, peers and friends. Each one is personally addressed and contains a personal note.
"But it takes too much time!" This is an excuse I hear every year, which is why it pays to plan ahead. When the charity card catalogue arrived in the post in the middle of July, instead of throwing it away, I looked through it and chose my favourite. I always choose a card with a tree on it – but you don’t get many apple trees in the snow! The catalogue came with an offer of a nice 20% discount for orders placed by the end of August. I maintain a database to which I add all my new contacts and clients on a regular basis, marking up those to whom I'd like to send a card at the end of the year. This made it really easy for me to see how many cards I needed and I ordered in time to get the discount. They arrived at the end of August and will stay in their box until the middle of November, when I get back from my holiday, before I do anything with them.
Yes, it takes time, which is why I start early. A few now and then, when I need a break from doing something else. Each one will be signed by me and a personal note will be added. My handwriting can get a bit messy, so I have to write the addresses slowly and carefully. Then, come early December, I'll be ready to fill up the post box with all the cards, making sure they reach their destinations in plenty of time. No last minute rush to catch the final post, for cards to arrive after people have left the office for two weeks. No worrying about forgetting to send a card to key new clients. No getting it wrong and accidentally sending a Christmas to someone who doesn't celebrate Christmas, and more time to go to the pub!
When you take the time to plan your marketing, you'll be able to take advantage of the really great deals that come along; you'll be able to spend the time doing your marketing properly. It's not too late to get organised with your Christmas cards for this year; and when they're done, you'll be thinking about the marketing you'll be doing in January to bring in the next batch of new clients, won't you?
What about the Charity Cop Out?
If you’re going to cheat and send an email to all your contacts, telling them that you’re not sending Christmas cards this year, but instead you’re making a donation to a charity – prove it!
Tell your contacts how much you’re donating – our Christmas cards this year cost about £150 to buy and will all have second class stamps on so your donation needs to be a reasonable amount for you to get away with it.
Also tell everyone where you’re sending the money. A donation certificate from a charity is a great way to prove that you’ve done what you said you would. You could buy a portable water trough for hard working horses and donkeys
in the Third World. You could feed a dog for a week
while it’s waiting to be rehomed. Or my current favorite – you could twin your toilet!
Ours has been twinned with one in Nepal!