It’s my pet peeve. Even before the days of digital cards, I always dismissed (ie tossed) every Christmas card I got from companies I buy from that didn’t spend the time to personalize. Christmas cards are personal. They are what you give to people you care about. Today its become something they throw at you by the hundreds without any thought as to why they are sending them. They do it because they feel they are supposed to. In my opinion, holiday cards are not something you mass produce and then put no signatures, fake signatures, or sign in mass like Pete Rose at a Las Vegas memorabilia show. And just when I thought they couldn’t get more impersonal, out comes digital cards.
This year more than ever, I have been getting digital cards from people I spend money with. Nothing pisses me off than to spend $40,000 with someone and get a digital card. I really don’t care if I get a card or a present. It’s not why I buy from vendors. But don’t bother me with a mass produced, lack of personalization, e card. Nothing says cheap more than an e-card and I have to waste my time opening it to see what the heck is inside. And what does it say? To me it says “hello customer number 543679, have a nice whatever you celebrate”. It says the same thing to the hundred customers they sent it to. They might as well have sent me next years’ catalog attached to the email and said “now that we have that over with, here is our catalog for you to buy from”. If you aren’t going to do it right, don’t do it at all. In all honesty I am not even thinking of my vendors this time of year. That is until they send me Holiday spam.
I do appreciate the cards that have a little personal note inside. It doesn’t have to be much. Just something that says they were writing it to me or my company and that they care about my business. It’s like the wedding thank you cards that say “thank you for the “fill in the blank” ” . Filling in the blank makes the giver feel like your really did appreciate the portable deep fryer. I had one stone company send me a picture of me jumping off a small ledge. Again not a big deal, but it was personal and showed that they are thinking of us when they are sending out end of the year cards. And the gifts? I’m human, I like gifts. I have to admit I don’t like the cheap boxes of chocolate or mass purchased items either, but it’s certainly better than an e-card. Personally, I like to make a little bit of effort.
I send the average customer a card but I fill out a personal memo to each of them thanking them for their business. I always mention a few things that only pertain to them. Maybe it’s their kids name or their pets. Something that shows I appreciate our relationship and that they are not just a customer number. I think those few sentences make a difference. For the next level up customer, we drive to their office and give them fresh bread. It’s just a loaf of apple cinnamon or something similar, but it’s hand made and generally something everyone likes. No mailing, no gift certificate, just a hand delivered box of breads. I give those same breads to all the on air people I work with at the TV and radio stations and of course the administrative assistants I work with there as well. The media is my friend so I make sure to remind them how much I appreciate their help. And the big buyers? Well, they tend to be men and so I send them Filet Mignon. We have a great butcher here so I go and get each guy 4 great cuts. Again, not a tremendous amount of money but it’s different. It’s gotten to the point that if I don’t get it for them they are disappointed. No doubt in my mind they remember me because of the meat.
E Cards come across exactly the opposite of everything above. As if you can’t afford to spend the money or don’t want to spend the time. You are better off doing nothing if you need to save money. If you are smart enough you put aside a very small percentage of your top customers purchases for the end of year thank you. Build end of year gifts into the budget. You don’t have to do it for all your customers. Just a chosen few. If you have thousands of customers then don’t bother. Sure you can send them a discount or a free something but if you have nothing for them, let them enjoy their holiday without more of your spam.