The holidays are a time of celebration – conjuring up thoughts of family, snow and mistletoe. For many, it also means stacks of greeting cards from friends and loved ones.
Holiday cards can also be used in business to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year with your most prominent customers and stakeholders. In addition, they're helpful to set the stage for the new year ahead.
Here at Kinnek HQ, our holiday elves have been hard at work writing hundreds of cards to our small business community and supplier base (just a small portion of the 1.6 billion holiday cards sent annually in the U.S.).
Our goal is to celebrate the season by saying thank you to customers who visited the marketplace over the past year, as well as commemorate the success of their business, too.
With that in mind, we asked both suppliers and customers on Kinnek how they make the most out of their business' holiday cards each year. Here are some of the insights we gleaned from those conversations:
Associate Your Brand with the Joy of the Holiday Season
December is a time to feel festive, thankful and also hopeful for the year ahead. Sending holiday cards is a great excuse to keep your business at the top of mind of your customer and stakeholders' minds. It’s also a great way of associating your brand with the positive feelings that encompass the holiday season.
As Michael Well, a sales representative at The Vintner Vault highlights, “We have three stores and a lot of customers...for a company like ours, we want to make sure our customers know they have a personal relationship with us.”
Our experience and conversations with Kinnek buyers and suppliers demonstrate that good cheer can be the perfect partner in boosting brand identity. For example, just as craft breweries release special seasonal ales during the holidays, we recommend sending holiday cards to distributors, vendors and “VIP customers” - perhaps with an accompanying case of seasonal samplers to spread even more cheer!
Personalization is Key
Even the most colorful and jolly Santa card can seem trite with only a stock “Happy Holidays” greeting included. Put some time and thought into your message to show your customers how much you truly appreciate your relationship with them and more importantly, their business.
One example of this might be to thank them for their trade over the past year, or perhaps acknowledge their role in a specific event or cause that means a lot to them.
Hand-writing a card is perhaps the most effective way to personalize your greeting. Adding a customized message and/or writing instead of batch-printing your holiday card(s) can be enough to to differentiate your company and make you stand-out from the rest of the pack.
Getting your team involved in signing cards can be also be a fun holiday event in-itself - and help everyone on your team build a relationship(s) with customers, as well.
As more and more business is conducted virtually, it's becoming increasingly acceptable - and in many cases, more preferable - to email your holiday greetings. Not only is it now faster and cheaper to send cards virtually; it also increases the likelihood of your receipient sending a quick reply back, which could lead to a potentially fruitful conversation between you and your customer.
Rod Silver, a salesperson at Xpressfil, told us their company prefers the online channel "because a majority of our customers find us online (often on Kinnek) and we have [already] established that line of communication.” The key is to ensure you reach your customers using the same channels that they prefer using themselves.
At Kinnek, we’ve also chosen to utilize this strategy in the past, which has proven to be very effective indeed! For example, just last year, we sent our holiday e-card to a dormant account, which ended up rekindling a previous relationship with the purchasing manager of a restaurant. In the 11-months since reconnecting, we’ve helped that restaurant find new suppliers for everything from their kitchen equipment to glassware.