Send Tidings of Comfort and Poise

If you're a business owner, one of your annual decisions is whether to send holiday cards. Sure, in this economy, some people may choose to hold off till next year, but many companies will still send them because a well-written greeting is an excellent way to solidify a business relationship. It's an easy way to let your customers, partners and vendors know you are thinking of them, and to ensure that they will think of you, even if only at the moment they receive your card. With a classy greeting, your company is perceived as poised and thoughtful.

Having worked at American Greetings Corporation, I was schooled long ago in the DOs and DON'Ts of sentiment writing. Here are a few:

1) Talk with the hand. Handwrite your greetings as much as you can. This old-fashioned gesture will show those on your list that you went the extra mile to reach out to them. Handwrite your signature on page 3 (inside right) of the card, and, if possible, also write your recipient's address by hand on the envelope. I know, I know ... with mail merges and label makers — not to mention our hectic schedules — you will be tempted to print off some labels. Many companies try to get away with Lucinda fonts that appear to be handwritten, but your customer will know, and appreciate, the difference.

On the other hand, block-stencil fonts and other fun ones can add whimsy to your envelope, and isn't that one of the big bonuses of the holidays, to have evoked in us a sense of nostalgia?

2) You don't need 37 pieces of flair. An effective holiday card needs one of two things: a great photo or a great message. Attaching a tiny felt Santa hat on the envelope is charming, but don't feel as though you have to fill the inside with stickers and glitter and confetti. Choose one feature to set apart the envelope (from the dozens of others they'll receive), and one feature for the inside. But again, a simply stated yet sweet message or a stunning photo will render any sleigh bells and whistles unnecessary.

3) Proofread. In the grand scheme of things, a typo will not diminish the "thought that counts" quality of your effort, but it may instill giggles in your recipient that you didn't intend. Ones I've seen recently: DEAR FIEND, TIME TOGEATHER and ITS CHRISTMAS! Two of those typos are the kind that spellcheck doesn't catch, so ask a FRIEND to take a look for you.

What are your thoughts on holiday cards? Will you send them this year? Will you go green or use snail mail? Comment below and share what you or your company does.

Season's greetings,


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