Ahhh, the holidays are here. Is it just me, or are all of you having trouble focusing on your work, too? I’d much rather be out shopping.   But honestly, besides spending money, I love another holiday tradition as well – getting all those cards in the mail. There’s just one problem: you have to send cards in order to get cards.

Holiday cards – especially corporate cards – can be tough to write. What do you say? In such a tiny spot? It’s tempting to just have your signature pre-printed on the cards and be done with it. But please…stop and reconsider.

Build a strong relationship with your clients

Free Hugs

Can you honestly say that you thank your customers enough? How often do you communicate a simple, sincere “it’s great to work with you” to your clients? Truthfully, if you do it too often, you’ll sound phony. But the holidays are different; they’re made for sharing your joy and appreciation with others. It’s foolish to pass up the opportunity. So how do you write that amazing holiday card that stands out from the crowd?

Great thank yous = better customer retention
I am reading an excellent book, “Donor Centered Fundraising,” by Penelope Burk, president of the non-profit management consulting firm Cygnus Applied Research. Ms. Burk draws a startling connection between how well non-profits thank their donors, and how well non-profits retain their donors. This is an important lesson for the for-profit sector as well.

Luckily, Ms. Burk has identified 20 characteristics of great thank you letters, and they apply just as well to holiday cards. I’ve pulled out four below; follow these, and your customers will think fondly of you when they open your cards this year.

1. Just say “thank you.”
The holiday card is not an opportunity to sell. This is as an occasion to express your appreciation of your client, with no ulterior motives.

2. Be specific.
Resist the urge to write a generic message; instead, make specific reference to your history with your client. Your message should start with a personal salutation (skip the “dear valued customers”, please!), and it should speak directly to the customer; phrases like “thanks to customers like you” are weak and don’t speak to anyone in particular.

3. Share your feelings.
This is your chance to communicate the excitement, gratitude, and inner warmth you feel toward your client. And have fun with the first sentence; starting out your card with “Thank you for…” or “On behalf of…” is guaranteed to make your client yawn. Think outside the box and take a more personalized approach. And, of course, handwritten is best.

4. Keep it short.
“Brevity is best,” Ms. Burk says. Keep your message short, no more than a few paragraphs. Don’t try to achieve too much here. Keep it simple, focused, and clear. Give your customers a sincere holiday card, and they will remember you.

Oh, by the way, go ahead and add me to your holiday card list…I’d love to see what you come up with!