As a consumer, you know the holiday season inches up earlier and earlier every year—often with Halloween decorations competing with Christmas and Hanukkah for retail shelf space. While it seems early (don’t kill the messenger), some ideas take time to vet, order, budget or fulfill so earlier planning is helpful….and sometimes even a cost savings.
CHARITY APPROACH: As a magnet for all things nonprofit, I still love the charity donation. Most often we see this carried out as part of a holiday card and taking one of three formats:
The business selects a charity that is near and dear or tied to the organization’s mission or industry. A notation then reads “a donation on your behalf has been made to XYZ Nonprofit”.
The business selects 2-4 charities and equally divides the donation to cover a broader range of causes that may be dear to their clients, prospects and partners. Or, in some cases the recipient receives a link to choose among a few charities.
This year, I’m in love with the Giving for Good card by The Dallas Foundation. It combines the absolute best of both worlds with a way for the business to contribute to a charity as a tax-deduction and for the recipients to select the exact charity they want to support. The gift cards come in denominations of $25, $50 or $100, with a small service fee of $5-$15—all of which are fully tax-deductible. The gift cards have instructions on how a recipient redeems the funds and selects any charity in the US to receive the money. Besides 14 standard designs, you can elect to have your own design, logo and message printed on the cards or the envelopes, for an additional fee.
EDUCATION & READING APPROACH: Some organizations are known for sending a book each year be it a business best-seller, an industry-relevant piece, a motivational story or other theme. Books are a great tangible holiday gift that offer lasting, shelf value. Besides a cover letter, you could customize the book with a subtle bookplate sticker in the front that reads “Compliments of YOUR FIRM”. Depending on the volume, often a publisher will consider a custom cover with your logo. In terms of how to select your book, it’s very flexible:
A recent marketing email from Kinetix asked their mailing list for book ideas as the holiday gift this year with a goal that the book will “challenge and inspire you to be better, do better and look at the world a little differently.”
Beyond The New York Times best seller list and Amazon reviews, view the roster of book summaries from the First Friday Book Synopsis series, held monthly in Dallas. Randy, Karl, Bob and Cheryl do a fabulous job of finding and distilling the compelling points to new business book releases.
FOOD, GADGET & PRODUCT APPROACH: No doubt that you have received amazing treats from custom M&Ms, pastries and cookies to decadent pecan pies and gift baskets. We’ve heard of others receiving donuts or breakfast tacos for all employees. Food is an easy option for many organizations and usually finds many takers among the recipient’s employees. The hard part is to try to find something new and different from time-to-time.
In terms of physical gifts, we recommend going subtle on the logo items for holiday gifts and finding something that ties to your business or brand. I adore and eagerly await my annual holiday gift from Spaeth Communications – the yearly White House Historical Association Christmas ornament. The designs are beautiful and come with a story about the design and time period. Beyond being a unique annual gift that supports a nonprofit, this gift ties very perfectly to Merrie Spaeth and her brand, as she served as a White House Fellow and later as President Reagan’s communications director.
HOLIDAY CARD OR ECARD APPROACH: In the lean times of years past, we saw a trend from physical cards to ecards as well as from gifts to simply cards for holiday wishes. Some clients have a dual approach with active clients and targets receiving physical cards (and/or gifts) and an extended list of contacts receiving an ecard. In that case, de-duping and cleansing your list in advance is important. In terms of the card itself, we see a few major themes most often:
Generic cards and wishes with the company’s logo printed on the card and/or employees’ signatures.
Custom cards that feature team photos as a group or individual shots in a collage, building photos or other branded elements or messages crafted into the card. At MPD, we’ve elected every year to morph the orange spring icon from our logo into various holiday poses for our cards and ecards. Our spring has been a string of lights, a tree, a snowman, a gift bow and a reindeer over the years. It’s a fun way to extend our brand and stretch our creativity.
We’ve seen a few businesses include a year-in-review letter or email with updates on major milestones, growth, personal successes and the like, either grouped by topic or by calendar month.
In terms of timing we have clients who send, and we’ve received cards, ranging from Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year and even, Happy Valentine’s Day. If you opt to go outside the norm with Thanksgiving or Valentine’s, be consistent so it becomes expected.
Hopefully this post gives you some ideas to consider as you celebrate and recognize your clients, prospects, vendors, referral sources and employees. We’re happy to help brainstorm and create your holiday package, gifts or cards.