Spreading Holiday Cheer in a “Bah, Humbug” Economy

So, we’re in the midst of the holiday season. Thanksgiving may be but a memory but Chanukah’s here, Christmas, and Kwanza are right around the corner, and New Year’s Eve is close behind and, because I’m easily motivated by food, I’ve noticed that the holiday “goodies” we’re all used to getting from vendors and clients have become less and less common over the past few years. I’ll assume it has to do with the economy and I’ll be thankful that I don’t have to let out the waistband on my pants in order to accommodate yet another delicious box of chocolates, but it did get me thinking: At this time of year, when we traditionally give people presents to show how much we appreciate our relationships with them, what do we do now that budgets are slashed and fancy gift-giving isn’t the option it used to be? How do we make sure the business relationships we value are still getting a little holiday love?

Here are some ideas I’ve been kicking around this week:

Holiday Cards
The USPS is still a pretty cheap way to get your message out there and the name and logo recognition that come from sending a card can be great. Plus, holiday cards can have a particularly personal feel if you address them to each recipient individually, call out a personal detail or two about your working relationship with them, and personally sign each one. It may sound like a lot of work, but sometimes it’s the extra touch that makes a true difference in setting your business apart from your competition.

Emails
I’ve gotten some pretty great holiday-themed emails over the past few weeks. Emails with pictures of kids and pets decked out in their finest, emails with amusing infographics about the calories in a typical Thanksgiving meal and the most stressful Christmas songs, even helpful emails reminding me of shipping deadlines. But the thing that stands out to me about these emails is that none of them were explicitly trying to sell me anything, which makes me kind of happy. Opening my inbox and finding an email intended only to make me smile is a pretty nice thing.

Your Own Products
My coworker frequently gets these cool, shiny envelopes in the mail from one of our clients. Inside, they usually contain a fun example of some recent work and their holiday envelope certainly didn’t disappoint this year. Inside were two holiday-themed examples with special features – pop outs, scratch and sniffs, even an augmented reality video. The work was a lot of fun but it also served as a great reminder of the kinds of things our client is able to produce and who we should call when we need the products they offer!

Savings
If you’re a B2C organization, or even a B2B with products or services that can be discounted, offering your clients a time-sensitive promotional price can be a great way to say “thank you” while generating some end of the year business at the same time. People are always looking for sales at this time of year and everyone loves a bargain, even on business-related goods and services.

Charitable Donations
A lot of companies have a charity that holds a special place in the hearts of the founders or employees. Why not consider making a donation, in your client’s names, during the holidays? You’ll likely help someone who could use a little extra goodwill at this time of year and give your clients (and yourself) the warm and fuzzies!

Of course, the traditional corporate gift is always appreciated (at Algonquin, we’re big fans of giving (and receiving!) Fairytale Brownies, easily the yummiest work-related gift I’ve ever had the pleasure of getting) and you can be pretty sure that your clients will be happy with almost anything you send, but if you need to consider a less expensive or more purposeful option, there are a lot of good ways to break the chocolate/wine/fruit basket mold and still do something that resonates with your clients.

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