Holiday cards can be a thoughtful way to remind your customers, vendors, partners, and distributors just how important they are to your small business. But sending traditional tidings requires planning ahead (and stuffing way too many envelopes).
If you haven’t already gone that route this year, why not connect personally with people using another method? Here are four creative ways to send last-minute season’s greetings.
1. Make a holiday video. Video can be produced — and distributed — quickly and professionally with the help of online services.
Marlena Frank, co-founder of Sweet Spud, a Massachusetts-based maker of eco-friendly baby apparel, made a holiday video greeting with her professionally taken family photos using Animoto. Fairfields Farm Crisps took the opportunity to show their customers a peek at their chip-making process in their holiday video. Beyond editing tools, Animoto offers a call-to-action feature for linking to, say, an online coupon or news about your business. It also takes care of music licensing if you add a third-party song to your video. (Animoto costs $39 a month for businesses.)
If that sounds too complicated, Vine offers a free mobile-video platform for creating six-second looping videos. This could be a fast, easy way to say “happy holidays” to your social media community. Take a queue from Tropicana’s Vine for Valentine’s Day and show off your product in your holiday greeting.
2. Send mobile postcards. Using your smartphone or tablet, you can quickly put together a holiday postcard. Apps like JibJab (pictured) or Red Stamp provide a quick and fun way to send personalized greetings that won’t clutter their mailboxes.
For only a $1 a month, you can upload up to five photos of your employees or family in funny holiday e-cards or animations using JibJab. These are definitely a sillier take on the holiday card with twerking elves and reindeer doing the Macarena. These versions are only available to send through email or share on Facebook.
Red Stamp is free and available on your iPhone or Android as well as a desktop version. You can upload a photo from your phone, computer or almost any social media account including Facebook and Instagram. While it’s free to send paperless versions via email, social media or text, they do offer physical versions of the cards for $1.99 a card including postage.
3. Deliver a photo slideshow. Use photos of your business activities throughout the year to make an online slideshow that you can share with your VIPs. Perhaps you even have photos of loyal customers or vendors that you can include? Most people love to see themselves in photos, and it demonstrates that they are a member of your business family.
This is also an opportunity to show your company’s network a more personal side of the folks who make your business run. Ask employees to upload a photo of their family and compile them all into a slideshow.
Various online services can help you create a slideshow, including editing the photos and adding licensed music. Smilebox’s free basic service gives you access to thousands of designs. It also lets you post the finished product to social media, send it via email, or burn it to a DVD.
4. Say “happy holidays” in real time. If your customer base consists largely of members of your community, it may make good sense to dedicate a day to delivering small gifts or holding a holiday party to thank people for their business.
Erin Thompson owns a landscaping company and store in North Carolina with her husband, Cory. They take advantage of the town’s annual Christmas stroll to connect with their neighbors. “Our staff makes marshmallow kits with a jumbo marshmallow, graham crackers, and a piece of chocolate in each one,” Thompson says. “Then Cory builds a stone fire ring for all of the town as a gift to come and roast the night of the stroll.”
Ross Mickel, owner of Ross Andrew Winery in Woodinville, Wash., dedicates time to do face-to-face greetings as well. “I’ll pour wine at a local retail shop while people are shopping,” he says. “This time of year is all about relationships.”