It may feel a little too early to be talking about the holidays, but marketers need to be thinking a season ahead of time. If you have the capacity, consider adding this snail-mail tradition to your holiday brand plans.
By Jessica Shrout

Some brands view the holidays with a healthy dose of apprehension. You want to do something nice to stand out and make your brand relevant during the holiday season, but how do you do it without making a misstep by neglecting the religious diversity of your customers or ending up too wishy-washy because you tried to accommodate everyone?
I suggest sending holiday greeting cards to your residential customers. Enough brands do not do it—either from trying to avoid controversy or a lack of demonstrated return on investment. Your brand will really stand out from the crowd if you choose to do it.

Other than the initial sign up and invoices, how many touchpoints do you have with your customers? Often, the answer is “not many,” when you should be reaching out to them regularly to reinforce their choice in using your services. Take advantage of this opportunity to remind your customers that they are important to you—even during this busy time of year.

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Will your holiday card make it to the mantle? Increase your odds by personalizing it and keeping the focus on customer appreciation.
Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?
Are you concerned about bringing religion into your marketing by sending out Christmas or Hanukkah cards? Unless religion is very important to your brand identity, you are welcome to leave it out entirely and work with variations of “Seasons Greetings”and warm wishes during winter. If that does not work for your brand, consider moving your timeline up and sending out Thanksgiving cards instead. It is fairly controversy-free and it is a unique opportunity to tell your customers that you are thankful for them.

If religion is important to your brand, you are welcome to indicate that with your holiday cards. Simply evaluate the imagery and message to ensure that while your preferences are clear you come across as inclusive to all faiths and traditions that your customers may hold. Your goal should be to make your customers feel appreciated and to convey warm thoughts for the season. If your message overshadows that, you may want to re-evaluate. If you are not sure what is appropriate, reach out to some folks who celebrate different holidays than you and ask them for advice on how to be inclusive.

Special Holiday Rates
Avoid the urge to offer any promotional rates or other sales-related information in your holiday greeting card. If you do not have many touchpoints with your customers planned for the year, you might feel some pressure to include incentives along with your holiday wishes. Unfortunately, a promotional offering eliminates the sincerity of a greeting card. Consumers are easily able to pick up on when a message turns into an advertisement, so it is best to avoid it. Save promo rates for another mailer and plan to send that in January when people feel the pinch of overspending during the holidays and are looking for a good deal.

Greeting Card Tips
Personalize as Much as Possible
Get a custom holiday card printed with your logo. This helps with instant brand recognition and lets you control the art, which is important if you are looking to go the secular route. Since some families display their holiday greeting cards, you also have the chance to get your logo seen by your customers’ visiting friends and family members. In addition to personalizing the cards with your brand, try to personalize it for each customer. Chewy, an online pet food retailer, sends out greeting cards every year. Each card is handwritten and includes the customer’s name in the salutation. In 2017, Chewy’s Vice President of Customer Service, Kelli Durkin, estimated that the company would be sending out five million handwritten holiday cards. If Chewy can do it, you can, too.

Outsource Labor
If you are already running successful marketing campaigns, do not try to squeeze in greeting cards if time and labor are in short supply. Outsource the work as much as your budget allows. Your local print shops may offer services that include pre-sorting your cards so that you do not have to worry about sticking on labels and stamps—plus presorted mail saves the Post Office time and money, so these postage rates often save you money. If you are looking to do handwritten cards, you may find that hiring a temp office worker to do the job makes good sense for your budget. Find creative ways to get the job done while keeping a personal touch.

Make it Relevant
What do the holidays have to do with garbage? Not much, unless you consider the waste generated, the recycling questions raised around the holidays, or the schedule changes you make to allow your team to have the day off. Do not feel like you must go through the motions and send a holiday card only because it is a good thing to do for your brand. Solve a problem with your cards by printing some additional holiday information on it. Choose recycled paper for your cards and include an explanation about why this is important on the back of your cards. Will you be delaying service by a day or two around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day? Print your schedule as an insert and put it in the card. Are greeting cards acceptable material in your recycling program? Use your card to communicate that—just make sure your message does not turn into a sales pitch.

Warm your customers’ hearts—and stand out against the competition—by sending a personalized holiday greeting to each home you service. Remind them that they are valued, and you consider them to be part of your family. If it is too late to send out holiday cards this year, incorporate this tactic into next year’s branding and communication strategy. | WA

Jessica Shrout is the owner of Circle Three Branding—a marketing agency devoted to the waste industry. For more information, visit CircleThreeBranding.com.

Got a burning marketing question? Send it to jessica@circlethreebranding.com for an answer in an upcoming issue.

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