Although the amount of mail generated by the UK has slowed in recent years, sales of greeting cards, and specifically Christmas cards, show few signs of decline. The British public spent more than £1.7 billion on Christmas cards in 2017, according to the Greeting Card Association, and while ecards have become a popular way of spreading festive cheer, the long-standing tradition of the humble Christmas card has yet to wane. Indeed, it’s a custom that can be traced back to the nineteenth century, when civil servant Henry Cole printed the first batch of commercial Christmas cards in 1843. The idea of sending Christmas cards gained popularity throughout the Victorian era, eventually extending to companies and businesses, who sent Christmas cards to generate goodwill and promote their brand.
Fast-forward to 2019, however, and while business Christmas cards are still sent, they are quite often discarded. How can you ensure that your own company’s cards will be remembered, and maybe even kept, just like Disney’s? If you’re responsible for the company Christmas cards this year, don’t be anxious: this is our festive guide to producing something truly special for the most important people in your company and industry. So fold that card, seal that envelope and lick that stamp: the best corporate cards will be yours this Christmas!
‘Tis the Reason
Let’s face it: ecards are much more economical, but it’s hard to beat the tangible satisfaction of receiving hand-delivered, personalised cards. Overall, the benefits of sending them outweigh the costs and cons, as corporate cards can be a creative way of promoting your brand and boosting staff morale. But before you post a single card, you need to outline YOUR reasons for making business Christmas cards; what exactly are you trying to achieve? Establishing a goal will help to shape the design of your card and influence the direction your Christmas card campaign will take.
The reasons for sending company Christmas cards are abundant, and your cards may satisfy more than one of the following goals. For example, corporate cards are not always recognised for what they are: a marketing endeavour which seeks to improve one’s perception of the brand or company. While it may come across as overly desperate or tacky to include a specific reference to your business’s success or a recent achievement, you can at least include your logo or colour scheme to remind the recipient of who’s responsible for the exquisite card! Holiday cards can also help to strengthen relationships between employers and employees, companies and clients: while a simple card might not work ‘magic’ per se, it’s an opportunity to thank some of your trusted partners and colleagues for their work and custom.
At its most basic, a Christmas card is a time-honoured tradition, and many businesses make a point of sending them every year. If you do the same, it will help to mark your company as an established, reliable enterprise, with experience in the industry and respect for old customs.
Who Who Who!
Now that you’ve committed to sending corporate Christmas cards, it’s time to set yourself some parameters. While it’s tempting to order more cards than you need, it’s more effective to plan exactly who will be getting a card this year. Draw up a list of the most vital people in your contact list, beginning with your on-site employees and colleagues, and calculate how many cards you will require. Then consult any lists you have of your off-site associates, and make sure that their addresses are up to date. If you’re unsure, contact them and ask them to confirm their details; this might even allow you to signal, ahead of time, that you plan to send a card, allowing them to return the favour. This will open up a chain of communication that could have dwindled in the past but which may prove useful in the future, and to do so in a fun, informal way.
With this in mind, you may want to extend your contact list to all and sundry, in the hope that this will rekindle custom or ignite interest in your wares. However, it’ll probably come across as disingenuous to send cards to clients about whom you know little. Instead, send the cards to more viable prospects, and ideally, directly to the employee with whom you have had the most interaction. This will ensure that your card is handled with more respect and care – rather than sending it to the company director, who may hardly know you! Beware, too, of the cut-off point for Christmas post. Don’t procrastinate: leave enough time to design, write and proof the card, rather than having it come down to the wire. Some companies and offices might close early for Christmas, in fact, and it would be polite to allow them time to respond, should they wish to send you a card in return!
Looks Like Christmas
Perhaps the most crucial aspect of the card is what it will actually look like: the presentation will attract the most attention and comments from your recipients. If you’d rather not labour too much over the design, you could commission a professional artist to create something for you. There are numerous designers on social media that you can enlist to create a corporate card for you, taking much of the pressure off you and your team. Another option, and a particularly fun one, could be to have a competition within your company to design the best card, or maybe even a calendar! Using their drawing, photography or Photoshop skills, you can assign your employees the task of trying to produce the best card; you could even split the staff into teams so that the task is more manageable and enjoyable. The prize could be something like a Christmas hamper, or an increased bonus: something that will help to rally the troops around one festive goal.
Printing photos on your card is a particularly popular idea. Set one day aside for your employees to come in wearing costumes, or Christmas jumpers, and take a group photo of everyone in full regalia! One of the other things a photo Christmas card can do is to convey an impression of what it’s like to work at your company, and if the staff look like they’re having fun or the work environment looks pleasant, it may well help your brand. Think about the industry in which you work, too. If you’re a magazine, store or website, you’ll want something fun and uplifting; on the other hand, if you’re a law firm or medical organisation, you should opt for an understated and professional look.
The final component of the perfect company Christmas card is the message. Your greeting will emphasise the strong connections you have forged with your colleagues and clients throughout the year, and because of this, you should avoid printing a generic message on each card. The act of handwriting is, in our digital age, almost a lost art, which is why it will add a personal, old-school touch when you sign your own name or include a unique note. It needn’t be long – you’ll probably have hundreds of these to write – but even the shortest salutation will display warmth and attentiveness.
Of course, if you’re going to write individual messages, be sure there’s someone around to monitor them in some way! Be careful of using humour, for example, because something that’s funny to you might not be to others. A message that looks forward to the New Year, or which thanks the recipient for their time that year, is perfect: it’s positive and encouraging, while still making some allusion to your business connection. Obviously, check the spelling and grammar of your card to make sure that it sounds articulate and professional, and you’re almost done!
With these questions answered, you’re now prepared to print and produce your card. The most important thing is, once again, to start early: it’ll take time to design, print and write high-quality Christmas cards, aside from the time they’ll spend in transit. The process is time-consuming, but that’s exactly why it’s worthwhile: you’ll show your customers and staff that, even when it comes to the humble holiday card, your business goes the extra mile.