Seasons greetings: The benefits of a Christmas card mailer

by Super User
Christmas is coming. Charlotte Cullinan highlights the benefits of sending festive cards to your clients and tips for streamlining the process While many will be hotly anticipating the release of Christmas TV ads from the likes of John Lewis next month, in the Scottish town of Kilwinning there’s a local brand whose festive activities are just as eagerly awaited.   The annual unveiling of Thorne Travel’s Christmas cards and calendars is now a major talking point in town. Sales manager Samantha Garrity explains: “We all get so excited choosing the theme and pictures for the card and calendars. Each year we pick a different theme and there is a buzz around it, and it keeps people talking about us. Customers get excited about the calendars and start coming into the shop in November asking about them, which naturally sparks interest in booking their next holiday.”   Each year the team post 1,000 cards, sending a further 7,000 electronically, as well as 500 calendars. The design process starts in September, when customers and local groups are invited to the store to share ideas over afternoon tea. This year the team have opted for a Scottish winter wonderland theme, which Garrity expects to be a popular choice.The business is one of many agencies who see Christmas cards as an important facet of customer engagement. “We send the cards as we want to be seen to be part of our customers’ friends and family, and as a thank you for all their loyal support,” Garrity says. “Our customers love this, as it makes them feel part of the Thorne family.”   More than 100 Haslemere Travel customers receive a card signed by the entire team on their doormat each December. Owner Gemma Antrobus says: “I buy charity cards from the Cancer Research shop a few doors down, and we like to have a travel link, so I normally choose ones with the three wise men on camels in the desert.   We write them all, and it’s very traditional, but sometimes clients like to receive things that aren’t about a sales push.”Personal touch The importance of a handwritten card is echoed by Sharon Little, chief executive of the Greeting Card Association (GCA). She explains: “We don’t write as many letters today, so by handwriting a card it becomes much more personal. It shows we value someone enough to take the time to handwrite a message to them.”   The GCA estimates that one billion Christmas cards will be sent in the UK this year. While the recommended last posting date for Christmas is December 21, Little is encouraging agents to join the association’s Festive Friday campaign, and send their cards on Friday December 1. “These will be among the first cards to arrive, which are the ones that are most gratefully received and kick off the festive season. Cards will make more of an impact on customers than arriving with all the others later in December.”   To ensure her envelopes are in the post box early, Travel Counsellor Caroline Howden has perfected the art of card-writing. “Whenever I do a booking, even if it’s in January, I write the customer’s Christmas card, and file it in a box under my desk,” she explains. “I’ve built it into my booking process, so it takes less than a minute and means I don’t have to spend an entire day writing them in November.”   It’s a technique that many of the business’ homeworkers have adopted, and like Howden, most order their cards from Travel Counsellors, which are subtly branded and include contact details inside and on the reverse.   Howden’s top 10 clients will also receive an extra festive goodie in the post, in the form of a miniature Christmas tree, which Travel Counsellors created with letterbox flower delivery service Bloom & Wild. Howden plans to include a personal message and ideas for customers’ travels in 2018, and the tree will be decorated with raspberry-coloured baubles and a Travel Counsellors ribbon.   A little extra Around 100 select Oasis Travel customers will receive an additional treat in their Christmas cards, as managing director Sandra Corkin will include a save the date invite to a thank you dinner. “It is to thank them for their business and also try to inspire them for their next holiday,” she explains. The invites will be tucked inside cards designed for Oasis by an advertising agency. “Our clients like to receive a card, as it’s nice for them to know we are thinking of them and it demonstrates a more personal touch,” Corkin adds.   For the past 25 years the team at Kenneth Macleod Travel have included a paper diary alongside their Christmas cards. Managing director Elaine Tait explains: “We treat our loyal clients as family, so send them Christmas cards with personal messages and a diary with our logo to keep reminding them of us whenever they use the diary. We joke that the diary has to be filled with all their lovely holidays!”   The whole team at Travel Stop used to sign every Christmas card the agency sent to customers, but owner Bridget Keevil decided to implement a new system four years ago, as the team were each signing 3,000 cards.   “It was a big job,” she recalls.   “I used to come in with all the cards and everyone would cringe!” Now all 20 members of the team sign just once, and it is scanned into the cards, which feature photographs taken by the team. Previous cards have included shots Keevil took on a hike in the Himalayas, and she explains: “Having our photos makes it personalised, and we mention in the card who took them and where. We’ve had customers calling up saying they want to go to the places on the front. A lot of people don’t send cards anymore, but we like to stand out.”   The print run of 3,000 cards costs around £1,000, and to help reduce postage costs the cards are sent out with the agency’s newsletter.   To help streamline Carrick Travel’s festive post, last year the agency’s top clients received a branded card sent on behalf of the team by The Advantage Travel Partnership. All Advantage members involved in the direct mail programme are part of the Christmas card mailing, with around 5,000 households receiving a card.   Carrick director Tracey Carter explains: “We used to write cards but it was very time consuming. Now Advantage creates a really nice illustrated design and message in the card and it features our logo, and they send them out. It’s worth its weight in gold. Sending a card is another reminder to clients that we are here for the New Year.”

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