Sending Holiday Cards to Your Customers is a Waste of Time!

Did I get your attention?  You only have a few days left to get this task done.  Are you are one of the many business owners or sales professionals who still have this task on your list?  You may even have a stack of holiday cards sitting on your desk ready to go.  But at some point in the past month or most likely many times you decided to put it off, wait until tomorrow, or maybe take care of writing and sending your holiday greeting cards over one of the past weekends.

And now you find yourself exactly where you don’t want to be, 15 days before the big holiday, no holiday greeting Holiday-cards-assortmentcards in the mail.  You have a decision to make…  Do you stop everything and send those holiday cards out or do you just forget about it?

The answer? STOP EVERYTHING AND GET IT DONE NOW! This may seem a bit crazy or even bias because you know I am a big SendOutCards user and often promote using SendOutCards on Follow Up Success.  Card sending is an important step in your follow up process and holiday card sending is almost at the top.

Here are my top three reasons why you should stop everything and send out your holiday greeting cards now:

  1. Appreciating your customers and prospects – Every single one of your customers enjoys being appreciated and the holidays is a great time to say thank you for the past business you have received.  Prospects can easily be turned into customers by simply saying thank you for learning more about you and your business while wishing for them a great holiday with family and friends.
  2. Reestablishing the business relationship – One of my goals for 2010 is to create stronger relationships with my customers and prospects.  By sending holiday cards I will reestablish past relationships that I may have let slip through the cracks.  This is important when you reach out to past customers or prospects in the New Year as you will have recent contact.
  3. Top of Mind Awareness – This is the big one!  Creating top of mind awareness with your customers and prospects when they are surrounded by their closest friends and family is an essential step in your follow up and referral strategy.  If you are top of mind with your customer or prospect they are more likely to bring you and your business up in conversation or think about you for a potential referral.

Hopefully I have encouraged you to take action!  Maybe, you have already picked up that box of holiday cards from your desk or floor and have starting filling them out.  Possibly, you have too many cards to send and feel hopeless!  If you are feeling hopeless SendOutCards would be the best gift to give yourself this holiday season!  With my help within a few hours you can have all of your holiday cards in the mail each personalized with your message.  To learn more about SendOutCards or to set up your account visit my Follow Up Tools page or contact me.  I am more than happy to help you through this process!

Whether you use SendOutCards, go buy cards from the store, or use the cards you already have, just get it done!  Stop everything and do this now!  I promise you it’s worth the time.

Do you have great business success stories from sending cards?  Please tell us all about it by leaving a comment!

Of Course I have a Referral and Follow Up System!

A referral and follow up system…  You may be asking yourself what do I need that for?  I was reminded about a pretty well know fact after reading yesterdays post on Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch titled My Most Excellently Flawed Referral Survey.  The survey questions had to do with the percentage of your business coming from referrals or word of mouth.  Here is what John found:

69.3% felt over 50% of their business came by way of referral and yet, 79% further admitted they had no well-defined system to promote referral generation.  The conclusion is we know how important referrals are yet we don’t take the time to create a system to attract them!

John also asked if you are not getting a consistent flow of referrals why not?  20% of the participants of the survey just skipped this question!  Maybe after realizing so much business comes from referrals and acknowledging they have no system that thinking about why was just too much must for those in the survey to handle?

For years I have heard and seen similar numbers like this.  Business owners and top sales professionals say things like the live for referrals yet if I ask the simple question of what do you do when you receive a referral I more often than not get a blank stare.

Receiving more referrals is pretty simple and there are many ways to do this.

  • Simply asking your customers for referrals or people they know who can also use your product or service is a great place to start.
  • Making sure you acknowledge and reward the referral senders will naturally grow the amount of referrals you receive.  People will enjoy helping you and when you acknowledge and appreciate them and will in turn help you more.
  • Staying top of mind with your customers, prospects, and referral sources will generate more business and referrals for you.  You can do this by calling, emailing, sending greeting cards, and newsletters.  Staying top of mind is customers and prospects is about creating a relationship.

The best referral and follow up system I have seen and used for years is SendOutCards.  When used correctly you can create an explosion of referrals with very little effort.  The reason for this is SendOutCards is a great system and once set up can go on autopilot.  You can learn more about SendOutCards and how it might work for you by visiting this site.  Fill out the contact information and I will call and talk to you about it personally.

Whether you use index cards, Excel, Outlook, SendOutCards, Act!, Goldmine, Saleceforce.com, or any of the many other CRM tools on the market the important thing is you use one.  Commit to a system, spend the time to get it set up to work for your business, and then use it no matter what!  The benefits of using your referral and follow up system will outweigh any time or pain you might feel getting it started!

So tell me, what system do you have?  What are you doing to increase your referrals and follow up with your clients and prospects?

Do You Still Need to Send Your Holiday Cards?

You still have time to get this important follow up strategy completed!  However at this point you are a bit limited on how you can get this done.  One way is to make a mad rush to the store and buy boxes of holiday cards only to spend today and most of the weekend writing them out.  I must say the thought of you actually doing thing is making me tired!  I know as I have done this so many times in the past!  I am sure if you have not yet sent your holiday cards you know you need to and have just been procrastinating to the very last minute!

Don’t worry!  You have another option available to you which will allow you to send all of your holiday cards within a few hours.  Whether you need to send 100 or 2,000 holiday cards you still have time to get it done!  It all starts with having access to a powerful system called SendOutCards!

SendOutCards is a very simple online tool which allows you to upload all of your addresses, choose a holiday card from over 1,000 choices, type out a nice holiday message, and with a few clicks send to your entire database!  Your cards are then printed, stuffed in envelopes with a real stamp, and placed in the mail the next day! The best part is you can actually send the same holiday card to 500 customers and prospects and then go back and write additional messages to your top 25 customers and prospects to make them more personal.  This means no customer or prospect is forgotten!  SendOutCards also allows you to add gifts to your cards!  So if you should be sending a little something extra to those top clients you are covered!  To learn more about this tool visit SendOutCards and click on the top banner to send a free card and get the tour.

There is just no other service on the market that can do this with such ease!  I have used this service for the past few years for holiday cards as well as all the different business greeting card occasions with great success.  This is not just a holiday card tool!

If you happen to be one of those thinking “it’s too late to send holiday cards at this point” or “does sending holiday cards really make a difference in my business?”, I would encourage you to consider recent research by Hallmark:  Hallmark found that businesses say they use greeting cards as a “kind of investment in their business…  They’re investing in customer relationship with the hopes that it will pay back”.  The company has conducted research that found at least half of customers who received holiday cards from businesses say they are more likely to continue doing business with that company versus another one.  You can read more on this by reading the article in the Washington Post.

So the question to ask yourself is not whether you should send holiday cards or not…  The question is whether you want your current customers to continue doing business with you!

Holiday Follow Up: Greeting Cards, Postcards, and E-cards

Today you have many choices when it comes to holiday cards.  The choice of holiday greeting cards is enormous, and we cannot forget holiday letters, postcards, and e-cards.  As business owners and sales professionals what are the best practices?  In my opinion, holiday greeting cards should be your only choice!

Holiday cards: You have many options here!  Sure you can go to your local Hallmark store or grocery store to pick up your greeting cards.  In fast the top two greeting card companies Hallmark and American Greetings which print most of the greeting cards on the market would love for you to do just that!  It’s fairly simple, find a greeting card selection which will reflect your business in a good light, lock yourself in your office for the day and get to work!

Holiday letters: I have already received a few holiday letters from friends and businesses.  These are nice and typically very personal when coming from friends and family.  I would not recommend these for a business greeting.  Sending a gift with a letter is a pretty common practice but in my opinion if you are spending the time and money to send a gift why not include a greeting card as well?  Skip the basic form letter and add a personal note to a greeting card instead.

Holiday Postcards: Thinking this is a great cost saving alternative to mailing holiday cards is a big mistake. When I think of postcards the first thought that comes to mind is junk mail.  It does not matter how much time you put into your postcard design or the amazing copy you have come up with, in the end it’s just a postcard and it will leave a neutral or negative impression.

E-cards: The crazy popularity of e-cards has come and gone.  Some may say this is a great alternative to sending holiday greeting cards in the mail.  I would encourage you to consider the conversation I had with Jeff Hans real estate agent on Team-Q at Re/Max Realty.  Jeff mentioned a conversation he had with another business owner just last week.  The business owner asked if he had received his e-card.  Jeff had to think about it for a minute and then acknowledged he had received it.  The business owner asked what Jeff thought and his response was the following: “I receive over 200 emails per day so receiving your e-card was just another email”.  Jeff suggested that next year he mail holiday greeting cards instead of sending e-cards!

My last thought for your holiday cards choices.  I mentioned the top two greeting card companies Hallmark and American Greetings so I thought I should mention the greeting card company I have used for my holiday cards, birthday cards, thank you cards, and just everyday cards for the last two years.  The company is called SendOutCards and it just so happens SendOutCards is the number three greeting card company.

I think the most important thing to remember is to get your holiday cards out.  It is by far the easiest follow up touch you can do this week and with each follow up touch you do you increase the awareness your customers and prospects have with you.  This increased awareness will result in increased business and referrals!

Please… Stop Going to Networking Events!

Last week I spent a day making my fourth contact with people I met at a networking event the previous month. It was a great event filled with what seemed to be highly motivated professionals who truly wanted to grow their business and referrals. The strange thing is 90% of the people have yet to make a single contact with me. Should I take this personally? Maybe I present myself in a bad way or don’t say the right things. Could it be that most people simply don’t followup after a networking event? The question that comes to mind is why would you go to a networking event, meet 20 new contacts, and not followup? What is the point of that?

It reminds me of a conversation I had recently with Bob Civello owner of Smarter Small Business. I met Bob at the same networking event I was following up on from last month. He made an off handed remark at a later meeting about the lack of any followup after networking events. Bob estimated in the last two years he has attended over 50 business expos, tradeshows, and networking events. Bob has shook hands with over 2,000 people at these events. With that many people I would think at least half of them did some kind of followup. I mean how hard is it to followup with an email or a phone call?  I outlined my followup process in my post 7 Steps to Follow Up Success.

Sadly the rest of the story is only 14 people did any kind of followup. 14 out of 2,000! If you are one of the 1,986 people my hope is you are reading this! The part to really think about here is at this point Robert has so much value on followup that he is very open to meeting with anyone who engages him after the event. He knows if a new contact actually follows up they are well worth adding to his network. Imagine how easy it would be to stand out to Robert… Simply picking up the phone or sending an email would give you the opportunity to connect, make a true new contact, and create a new referral source.

I think most businesses and sales professionals want to stand out from their competition. It seems with Roberts experience it could be as simple as just picking up the phone and reconnecting.