Doug Garnett’s Blog


Reject Bah Humbug; Embrace the Physical Holiday Card

It’s holiday time – when good cheer arrives from people you’ve worked with all year. When old friends get back in touch with you. When it’s great to be reminded of the relationships you’ve built and to touch base with people you haven’t had reason to contact in the past bit of time.

And so, I love the business version of the holiday card tradition. That’s right. You remember physical cards. They are printed (that’s p-r-i-n-t-e-d) with a process that involves applying ink to paper. It’s a really interesting process if you haven’t ever seen it.

Even better, it creates an item that spends longer in someone’s consciousness than the average holiday Tweet (.0005 nano-seconds) or the average holiday mass eMail (.0010 micro-seconds). It fully “engages” the recipient because it’s physical. (To be clear, that means NOT displayed on a 3D TV – but something that really exists in 3 dimensions.)

Sadly, this year the holiday card is scarce. My trend-spotting hasn’t found a single reason. Some businesses seem to think they are being “green”. Some businesses may be choosing frugality in recognition of economic hard times. But a great many seem to have opted for the low-hassle/low-impact e-card.

Don’t send ME an e-card. I’ll never know you did because I delete Holiday Spam without reading. Scary thing is that online action lets us THINK we’ve done something – even though we most often haven’t as online holiday actions are forgotten at a very rapid rate.

Then, there’s donations. Over time I’ve become quite turned off by the “we’re donating” notices. Certainly the theory is based on wholesome action. Yet something still strikes a wrong note.

Perhaps it’s the fact that I have no connection to where the donations are going. Perhaps it’s the fact from many companies the notification of their donation is self-aggrandizing. Perhaps there’s an underlying suspicion that these companies only donate in order to get more business – not because they really care.

And in the strangest donation ploy I’ve seen, this year we received a donation oriented card – except the company wasn’t donating. Instead, it asked us to donate on their behalf to their specific charity. What? Is that supposed to be “authentic” or some other highly hip silliness?

Here’s the thing. The simplicity of a physical card has presence. A physical card communicates far more than an ecard. And it’s meaningful to the recipient. At an average cost of $1 to $4, it’s probably the single most cost effective way to have a brief touch with the people involved with your company. And even better, it sticks around.

So next year, when your company decides to Tweet it’s holiday greetings, perhaps you should remind them that Tweeting would be fine if customers were automatons. But there’s nothing like a physical card for communicating with individuals.

Copyright 2010 – Doug Garnett

Categories:   Business and Strategy, Communication, Human Tech, Social Media


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