Connect With Customers at Holiday Time

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Nothing drives sales and business relationships like a personal connection, and there is no better time to make that connection than the holiday season. Whatever you do, reaching out to your customer and prospect base during the holidays is important because it builds relationships where customers return all year long.

Personalize your holiday cards. Perhaps the most important way to network during the holidays is to send a customized, personal card to each of your prospects and customers. Standard cards purchased at the local drug store will not make that personal connection. Consider customized holiday cards that include your logo, company name and even your photo on the front. Write something personal inside instead of "happy holidays" or "best wishes." Stories about your family, or a funny yet tasteful quote, help make a personal connection with customers and prospects.

Match that look and feel to other printed holiday products such as return address labels, gift tags, gift stickers, holiday brochures and thank-you notes to carry the theme through every aspect of your holiday business.

Show your charitable side. Another option is the charity holiday card, a card that offers part of the proceeds from the purchase of the card to a specific charity. Holidays are a season of giving, and current and future customers like to see that you support appropriate charitable organizations. Find an organization close to your heart or consider one that your customers will appreciate. Regardless of the choice, a charitable contribution is always appreciated over the holidays.

Timing is everything. Is your product or service holiday related? If so, consider sending Thanksgiving cards in early November to remind customers to think of you when buying holiday gifts or services. Even if your product isn't holiday related, Thanksgiving cards stand out as they likely will be the first card your customers receive and open. Another alternative is to send New Year's cards, which can drive business in early January.

High-impact promotions. Once you determine your holiday card strategy, it is time to implement sales or promotions related to the holidays. Regular, high-quality postcard mailings can drive sales around this crucial time for most businesses. Consider vertical postcards instead of horizontal ones, and ensure they are full-color and high-impact glossy cards that stand out in a sea of promotional mailings. Upload photos of your business or products or use images that relate to your promotion.

Get out there. Once you finalize your holiday card and promotional mailing schedule, it is time to get out and network. When people see you in person, you are more likely to come to mind when it is time to make a sale. Attend industry conferences or events related to your company.

Depending on your business, participate in industry holiday parties or town celebrations. Perhaps even sponsor an event that will provide you with the right target market visibility. If that is not an option, hold your own holiday party at your place of business and invite customers and prospects. Offer drinks, snacks and holiday music.

Another option is to partner with similar or complementary small businesses. This lets you decrease the cost yet still make an impact. Invitations should match your holiday theme. Provide giveaways such as calendar magnets with your company name on them to all attendees.

Don't forget the "thank you." One final step in your holiday season is the thank-you note. Handwritten thank-you notes make an impact on customers because they show you go the extra mile. Send thank-you notes to customers when they purchase large orders, or thank them for referrals, and you will have a tremendously loyal customer base.

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