Yes, it does… but the rewards (aka bookings and sales!) only come when you do it right.
Repeat business comes faster when you have relationships with your customers. One of the easiest ways to reinforce or renew relationships is by doing something personal that shows you care about them. Sending a personalized seasonal greeting can do just that. My husband has sent an annual holiday card to his 360+ customers for more than 10 years now. We track how much business results from that effort. Because he’s a renovator and his projects differ in size, the numbers vary but it’s usually 10-20 customers in the $10,000-$60,000 range. Not a bad return for a day of effort and a few hundred dollars.
Who do you send them to?
Ideally, send them to everyone who has ever been a customer. When your customer list is too large and this is unrealistic, then subset your list to just those you feel have the potential to do business with you again or can refer you to a new customer.
Electronic, hand deliver, or traditional mail?
Hand delivery can be very effective. It allows you to guarantee your message is received (you’re face to face with your customer after all!) The size of your customer list, the type of business you are in, and how much time you have will dictate if this option is feasible for you or not. My personal favourite is traditional mail. It’s so rare these days to receive a piece of mail that isn’t a bill to pay or advertising to recycle. Sending a card this way is sure to make you stand out when it’s done right. Electronic is definitely quick and fast but chances are it’s also the easiest to overlook, delete or ignore. It can also lack that personal touch that shows you spent time thinking about this person – especially when it’s a mass email, post, tweet, or other message that the receiver knows went to a pile of people at the same time.
What do you say?
Start by hand signing the card. Having your printer do it takes away from the personal touch we’re after here. (It’s okay to use your computer to help print the envelope labels though.) Add a one-page letter describing something of interest to your customer. For example:
- Major accomplishments over the last year (wrote book, cut a new CD, created 3 new works of art – make sure you include a description of where they can buy this new item)
- New things you tried last year that worked well (changed mediums from canvas to clay, adapted my novel to a screenplay)
- Trend’s your seeing in your field – especially ones that will result in revenue for you (decreased size of for-business books to 3-4 hour reads, more artists moving to self-sale of their products and services via the Internet)
- Introduce new people to your team or give a quick update on those already supporting you (“I hired a bookkeeper this past year so I can focus more on my craft. His name is John Smith and I’m so glad he’s now part of my team.”)
- What you have planned for the coming year – try to tie it back into the trends you said were coming in the New Year (“I am embracing the trend to sell more of my own art. Watch for the next release of my website in March-April where you’ll be able to buy my art online at your convenience 24×7, 365 days a year.”)
- End your letter with an ask to help you find more customers – the worst they can do is ignore your ask! Let them know you’ve included a business card for them to share with people they know who might be interested in you. Also include a link for where you want people to contact you online.
Before you seal the envelope, don’t forget to include the business card to go along with your ask!
When do you send them?
Right now! We’re just a week and a bit away from Christmas. If you want the card in the hand of your customer before the big day, you’re almost out of time. For next year, we recommend sending the cards in the first week of December close to the 1st of the month. This will give your customer time to not only recommend you but also buy something as a gift for someone else they know.
Leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your opinion, especially if this has worked for you in past too.
Susan Cramer is a partner in S2 Seminars, Eradicating Poverty in Artists by Teaching Business Skills. To learn more about running your small business, attend our next workshop, 3 Must-Have Tools to Market Yourself on a Shoe-String Budget