The holiday season may not officially kick off until next month, but many remodelers are already looking at marketing strategies to keep business coming in during this traditionally slow time. One of the best marketing tools — and a goodwill gesture — is holiday cards. But rather than sending out the standard Christmas cheer, some remodelers are sending cards celebrating other holidays.
“It is a marketing tool but also a way to say thank you,” says Erika Polloch, executive assistant for The Wills Co. in Nashville, Tenn. The design/build firm began experimenting with different holiday greetings, including Valentine's Day, a few years ago. Now The Wills Co. sticks with an annual Thanksgiving card, which is mailed to current and previous customers, subcontractors, and vendors. The company owners chose Thanksgiving to avoid the Christmas-card blitz, says company co-owner Ridley Wills.
Bill Patrick also hopes to avoid the Christmas crush by greeting his customers with a New Year's card. “It still gives us a chance to offer some gracious well-wishing for the holidays, but it also offers motivation for the new year,” says Patrick, owner of William J. Patrick Inc., a design/build firm in Lancaster, Pa.
Patrick turned to a professional to create unique cards that would also be symbolic of the company's brand. “The card looks like the finished product of our jobs,” he says of the distinctive greetings, which cost about $2 each to create and mail. “The cards are one of a kind, and have a personal touch.” Patrick also sends out handwritten thank-you notes year-round. “It's more about building relationships than advertising,” Patrick says.
Regardless of which holiday you choose, your cards should represent your company. “In the end, you have to be aware that what you send out reflects and appeals to your customer, that they can identify with the piece they hold in their hands,” Patrick advises.
When shopping around for any type of card, quality is key, says business etiquette expert Lydia Ramsey. “Skimping on your selection can be interpreted in a number of ways,” says Ramsey, a speaker and the author of Manners That Sell — Adding the Polish That Builds Profits. “Your recipients might take it as a sign that business has not been good, or that they aren't worth a little extra investment on your part.”
She also stresses the importance of keeping names and addresses current. “As you gain new clients and contacts, take a few minutes to add them to your database and mark them for your greeting-card group,” Ramsey says. “This way you won't overlook anyone or embarrass yourself by sending the card to the old address.”
It's the personal touch that makes a card not only a good marketing piece but a gracious thank you, Wills says. “You should only send the card to people you really want to thank. It has to have purpose and meaning.”