It’s the holidays again and we all want to do something for our
customers, right? We want to let them know how much we appreciate them and
their business, and we want to wish them and their families a wonderful
holiday season. Mostly, though, we’d like to score some big points so
they will continue to be our customers! (Maybe we’re just afraid we’ll
look stupid if we don’t do anything at all…)
What to do for them? Buy a gift they may or may not want or need? Wine?
Maybe they don’t drink. Candy? Maybe they are watching their weight.
Calendars? Desk stuff? When’s the last time that you received something
like that from someone that you do business with? Did you
like/want/need/appreciate it? My guess is "No". So what can
you do that everyone will appreciate without breaking the bank?
Consider this: donation cards. I have used this concept with great
success. Here’s what worked for me.
Print post cards that are self-addressed/postage-paid on one side. On
the other side put a holiday message to the effect "Thank you for
your continued support during the past year. In lieu of a gift of some
sort, we felt a charitable donation in your name would be more in keeping
with the holiday spirit….", a place for name and address, and a
list of charities from which they could choose. (You can see and borrow a
sample from www.TheStayAtHomeCEO.com/donationcard.htm )
Bingo! Holiday shopping is complete, you have complete control over the
cost, and your customers will love it. Some thoughts:
1. You can decide ahead of time how much you want to spend, and then
write the individual checks in proportion to the responses.
2. Send each charity a copy of the cards that selected them, in case
they send acknowledgements.
3. Historically it has been cheaper to put stamps on the cards than
pay a business reply rate on only those that are returned. You
could let the customers pay the postage, but that would defeat the
4. Printing the cards for several years in advance makes them really
inexpensive, and including them in my Christmas card gets them into my
customers' hands at no extra cost. The down side, however, is that
if something changes, the cards may be unusable.
5. I wouldn't suggest letting individuals write-in a charity...
you'll get too many different ones, which will be very expensive by the
time you write a check that is an amount worth sending, research
addresses, and keep track of it all.
6. We tried to select the charities so that there would be something
for everyone: three major diseases (Heart, Cancer, Diabetes) and one for
animal lovers (Actors and Others for Animals). Now, something for
September 11 might be appropriate as well.
7. Several of my customers have told me that they always look forward
to getting my cards every year (we always use humorous cards), and
appreciate the donation.
8. Many companies object to vendors sending gifts of any kind, but we
have never run into an objection with this technique.
How can you adapt this idea for your business?
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