Holiday greetings: Are they worth doing?

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The Henderson Associates gift package won the People's Choice Award at the SMPS conference in Philadelphia

Seasonal greeting cards and gifts have long been a marketing mainstay. Do they work?

The answer can be challenging and the proof is probably in your own experience. In the “flood” of cards (physical, and worse, by email) how many do you really remember.  If your greeting reaches the intended recipient, it may be a quick throw-away or (perhaps more fortunate), added to the large and growing collection on display in the client’s office. (Good, in that the greeting has some temporary ‘staying power’ but hardly a stand-out message.)

However, a couple of examples indicate how you can achieve measurable results from the seasonal initiative.

In the first, you can co-ordinate your greetings message with a subtle but measurable marketing offer. Adams Hudson has produced some greeting cards for residential in-home contractors which are quite effectively designed for measurable results. (I think the fee for these cards would be well worth the money since you don’t have to worry about the creativity and industry-relevant message.)

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One of Adams Hudson’s residential service contractor greeting cards. Note the measurable offer, delivered with some subtlety.

In the second option, demonstrated by Henderson Engineers in Lexana, Kansas, you can go all out with a gift box, custom-designed with a message reflecting your company mantra: ““Work Hard. Play Hard. Give Back.”

This phrase is central to Henderson and hangs on the walls of every office. To engage our clients in our mantra, we custom designed a three-part gift: 1) a coffee mug engraved with “Work Hard;” 2) a pilsner glass etched with “Play Hard;” and the most important, 3) a giving card with “Give Back.” The first two gifts surpass the typically edible holiday gift because of their usefulness – our hope was they could become permanent fixtures on our clients’ desks.

But the third gift was key. Giving back to the communities in which we live in work is extremely important to our employees, and we wanted our clients to experience it, too. Specifically, we wanted them to give to whatever charity meant the most to them. That third gift — a $10 giving card much like a gift card — could be redeemed at any 501c3 charity of their choice.

Henderson’s entry won the “People’s Choice Award” at the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) Build Business Conference in Philadelphia in August.  The proof of its effectiveness:

We knew our campaign was successful when 37% of giving cards had been redeemed before the end of the year, surpassing our goal of 20%. We also received numerous emails from clients very similar to this one: “Thank you very much.  I really appreciate the gesture and even more so your focus as a firm, to give back to others.”

Clearly, these greetings programs cost money, but they have a stand-out and measurable component to ensure they deliver real marketing value.

Have you succeeded with other seasonal marketing initiatives? I welcome your observations. You can email buckshon@constructionmarketingideas.com or post a comment.

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