Happy Holidays: Should You Send Cards?

When the holiday season rolls around, I get cards and emails from a few clients and vendors, telling me that they’re all hoping I have a great holiday season. It’s nice that they’re all thinking of me, but I find myself at a little of a loss, trying to decide what I should do for my clients for the holidays. Should I be sending out cards or a small gift? Should I send out thank you notes to my clients for the work they’ve sent me over the course of the year? Should I duck the question entirely?

There are some benefits that go along with those holiday cards, of course. While a vendor may be grateful for the business you’ve done with him over the past year, a card or a small gift is really a question of marketing. Just as you might want to remind a client that you’re available for work in January, your vendors want to make sure that you’ll keep working with them in the new year. These sorts of connections can prove particularly useful when you don’t see clients in person very often. When a client is used to only hearing from you via email, even a small card sent through the post office can catch his attention.

At the same time, though, many companies get a whole stack of holiday mail that goes unacknowledged. An administrative assistant may go through the pile, open it and decide what to do with all the cards that pair holiday wishes and logos. It’s not necessarily the most cost-effective marketing plan — especially if you want to do something like send out a small gift. Email doesn’t do any better: newsletters and e-cards often go straight into the trash as people try to get out of the office fast around the holidays.

It can be an easier question from web workers who have one employer. Your employer isn’t going to forget about you, as long as he keeps signing your pay checks. However, when you’re not in the mix of things in an office environment, it can be harder to keep your actions fresh in a manager’s mind or make sure that your co-workers keep you in the loops. The holidays do offer an opportunity to remind them that just because you aren’t in the office doesn’t mean you aren’t thinking about them.

In the end, the decision to send out holiday cards — even via email — is not a mandatory one. It can be a nice touch to think of clients and employers at this time of year, but you may get a better return simply by devoting that time to projects and maybe doing a little more marketing. However, if you’ve got some time to devote to the idea, the holidays can be a good time to connect with some of your clients and co-workers. If you can stand out from the crowd, you can make yourself memorable without ever stepping foot on site.

Are you sending cards to clients and colleagues this holiday season?

Image by Flickr user rustybrick