Use your Christmas cards to change your marketing forever

Is your company Christmas card the only time old contacts hear from you each year?

If it is, you are missing out on the most effective and enjoyable route to new business. In this article we look at how ‘Keep in Touch’ marketing can reward you with referrals and sales.

Marketing is not the same as lead generation

Contrary to a popular myth, marketing is not just about generating new leads. As one of my favourite US marketing bloggers, Sonia Simone puts it:

“So many businesses think ‘marketing’ is the same thing as ‘lead generation’. In other words that marketing equals chasing down strangers so you can wrestle them through the conversion process and turn them into customers.”

Many professional businesses make the mistake of devoting all their time and a considerable amount of budget to the unrewarding slog of lead generation when there’s a far more cost effective and rewarding way to boost sales.

“Stay in touch. Too many businesses chase new businesses chase new business when existing customers and contacts are far more valuable.”

So says smart marketeer Mick Dickinson and he is right. If you want to make your life easier and frankly more enjoyable next year, stop spending all your time trying to wrestle down strangers: devote much of your marketing time and attention to keeping in touch with those that know you. Communicate with them regularly in ways they appreciate and find useful and they may well reward you with referrals and new business when the time is right.

Keeping in contact in ways your customers find valuable is the most effective route to consistent sales. This is ‘win-win’ marketing. Your customers and contacts get something that they value and can learn from. You get an opportunity to prove your expertise, and stay in contact, so they’ll remember you when a need arises.

Your 5 step ‘Keep in Touch’ marketing plan

  1. Create a database: Put together a list of your contacts. This should include current and past clients; those you’ve quoted for, but not yet done business with; partners; suppliers and anybody else you have a valued business relationship with. You can use a simple contact database (we love Highrise) for this task.
  2. Plan and be consistent: Devise and execute an achievable programme of communication throughout the year, whether it’s a quarterly newsletter, a monthly missive or a weekly blog – whatever works for you and your customers/clients.
  3. Provide targeted, useful content: Create and send out informative, well-written information to your contacts, content that they’ll find valuable e.g. articles, ‘How to’ guides, whitepapers, e-books, video. NB: each different type of contact will have different needs and interests. If you have very distinct sets of customers think about tailoring your communication for each group.
  4. Ask for their permission to keep in touch: Invite them to join your list and stay in contact. You’ll get a smaller, but far more engaged list and no reports of spam! (We use Mailchimp to manage our list and email marketing).
  5. Measure results: Make sure you record all your activity and the results it brings on your contact management system. See what works best, for you and your contacts; continue with those activities that bring the most benefit.

A monthly email newsletter is a very effective way to do this – Mel Lester, a US-based business consultant I follow on Twitter, produces the most valuable, targeted newsletter I’ve seen to date: see one of Mel’s newsletters.

Your Christmas cards as a catalyst

Your company Christmas card list is a great place to begin this new approach. Customers can often drift away because they don’t feel appreciated or just plain forget you. Christmas is a good opportunity to thank them for their business during the past year and show them that you value them as contacts.

Use this occasion to sort out your database of contacts. Send each one a card with a personal message and include your business card as an invitation to stay in touch. Don’t stop there: this can be the beginning of a whole new approach to your marketing for the coming year.

Remember: marketing is not the same as lead generation. Stop spending so much time wrestling down strangers. Start communicating with your current contacts regularly, in ways they appreciate and find useful. You’ll find that ‘Keep in Touch’ is a remarkably effective route to more business next year.

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  1. Kim Phillips

    Love your blog and this is excellent advice. Also, consider picking a different holiday and “own” it. Since so many companies send greetings at Christmas (that arrive with a huge pile of other mail), why not choose Thanksgiving or Valentines Day (in the U.S.) or some other popular holiday? Not only will you stand out, you’ll probably feel a little more creative during a less stressful and busy time.

  2. Richard Gauder

    Great article Sonja. It reminds me of something Seth Godin said:
    “The biggest ROI comes from identifying the biggest fans of the company and empowering them to carry forth positive messages about the company and the solutions it provides in the form of products and services.”
    But if you don’t build a relationship with those close to you, how can you turn them into fans? Christmas cards to existing clients is a nice touch and seems to make more sense than say bribing strangers to click on a Facebook “Like” button.

  3. Sonja Jefferson

    Love the Seth quote and too right Richard. I still love getting Xmas cards from work contacts. In digital days there really is something very heartening about receiving something real. It’s an effort for someone to do this and shows that they value your relationship. That’s important. As Kim says, it doesn’t have to be Christmas. Friend and client Jane sends out a beautiful hand made New Year card and I always look forward to this. Will now start putting some thought into the VC Xmas cards!


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