Personal connections with your customers can be one of the most positive ways to build business relationships and drive sales. While these connections are made throughout the year, the holiday season offers one of the best times to reach out to your customers and prospect base. Regardless of your approach, this can help bring back customers over the upcoming year and cement long-term business relationships.

Getting Personal

Sending a personal, customized holiday card to each and every one of your prospects and customers is one of the simplest and most effective networking strategies for the holiday season.  To make a strong impression on your recipients, stay away from basic cards which can be purchased at your local drug store.  Instead, holiday cards that are customized with your company’s logo, name and even photo on the front of the card will have more of an impact and reinforce your brand.

A personalized greeting on the inside of the card, as opposed to the standard “happy holidays,” is also a great way to make more of a personal connection with your customers and prospects.  Stories about your family or a funny yet tasteful quote can make your holiday card even more memorable during the season.  In order to maximize on the exposure of your company, use matching return address labels, gift tags, gift stickers, holiday brochures and thank you notes with your company name and logo.

The Season of Giving

Another way to capture the attention of your customers is by sending them a charity holiday card, where a portion of proceeds from that line of cards will go to a specific charity.  Numerous charities offer special cards around the holiday season and current and future customers will like seeing that you support appropriate charitable organizations.  Use a well known organization that your customers will recognize or one that is close to your heart as a way to support them during the season of giving.  Regardless of the choice, a charitable contribution is always appreciated over the holidays.

Timing Matters

Depending on the product or service you offer, the timing of your holiday card mailing can be crucial for boosting sales during the season.  Sending out Thanksgiving cards in early November is the best option if your product or service is holiday related.  This will remind customers of your business and grab their attention before they have begun their holiday shopping.  Thanksgiving cards are also a way to gain your customer’s attention since the holiday mailing rush is only just beginning.  If your holiday card is one of the first they open, it’s more likely to make an impact.  As a way to drive business after the holiday season, try sending out New Year’s cards as an alternative.

High-Impact Promotions

The timing of your holiday mailing will gain the attention of your customers, but a special holiday sale or promotion will help to drive sales.  Even regular, high-quality postcard mailings with your offer can be very successful.  During the holiday season, where mailboxes are often flooded with promotional mailings, make sure your postcard stands out by using vertical ones instead of the usual horizontal.  Full color photos of your business, products or images relating to your promotion will also catch the attention of your audience and a glossy finish will give it a professional look.

Get Out There!

Networking with potential customers is the final step to securing their business after you have finalized your holiday card and promotional mailing schedule.  You are more likely to come to mind when a customer needs your product or service after making face-to-face contact with them.  Networking can take place anywhere, so try attending industry conferences or events related to your company.  Participating in industry holiday parties or even town celebrations could provide valuable networking opportunities, depending on your business.  Perhaps even sponsor an event that will provide you with the right target market visibility.

If sponsoring an event is not possible, try holding a holiday party at your place of business and invite customers and prospects to attend.  Playing holiday music and offering drinks and snacks help to set a relaxed mood allowing more conversation. A holiday party may be outside of your budget, so partnering with similar or complementary small businesses is another option—that way you can decrease the cost yet still make an impact. Invitations sent to current and future customers should match your holiday theme and feature your company logo.  Be sure to provide giveaways to all attendees such as calendar magnets for the upcoming year with your company name on them. 

Always Say Thank You

Sending your customers a thank you note is the final step to ensuring that your holiday season was successful.  Hand-written thank you notes make an impact on customers because they show you go the extra mile.  Customers purchasing large orders should always receive thank you notes, and be sure to thank those who refer new customers to your business.  This will show how much you appreciate their business, resulting in a tremendously loyal customer base.

If you follow these steps for holiday networking, this is bound to be one of your best holiday seasons yet.  And the best part, the relationships you build this holiday season will surely carry over to the rest of the year. 

Happy Holidays!