Nobody seems to have got around to writing up any rules for sending out Multi-Denominational Winter Holiday (MDWH) e-cards. So while the horror show that played out in millions of inboxes throughout December is still fresh, let’s get few things straight (don’t worry, I’ll schedule this to re-post in mid-November while you’re planning your next MDWH greeting).
Working on the premise that e-cards are an evolution of the old-fashioned printed things with glitter that falls off everywhere, let’s adapt some rules from the analog age:
Rule #1: Don’t send greetings to people you don’t know. Your MDWH card is not a prospecting activity; it’s an act of gratitude. If you have not exchanged phone calls or money in the preceding year, and they are not a relative of anyone senior to you in the organization, drop them from your list.
Rule #2: Keep it brief. Paper cards rarely exceed five by eight inches folded. The reason for this is to keep your greeting to the point. In fact, most printed cards have gone ahead and put in a lovely, appropriate wish. All you really need to do is scribble your name inside and send it along.
Rule #3: Get to the point. Your greeting card’s only job is to thank your customer or supplier for putting up with you again this year. That’s all. It’s not a forum for demonstrating your creative genius, elaborate budget, new product, benevolence or quirky humour. MDWH cards are not direct mail, they are personal correspondence.
Rule #4: Don’t talk about money. How many holiday cards do you get with coupons, discounts and brochures in them? None? Good. That’s because, as Rule 1 suggests, this is not a lead-generation exercise; it’s a cultural ritual.
Rule #5: Send appropriate things. Nobody notices appropriate cards, but they sure pay attention when you get it wrong. That’s why the paper world divides MDWH greetings into five categories:
- horses crossing snowy fields to warmly-lit houses
- snowmen inexplicably exchanging gifts
- cardinals (the avian kind) sitting in cedar trees
- bears with red hats
- ornaments shaped like the planet Earth
It’s a safety feature that prevents bored marketers from acting on their worst instincts. Let’s learn from that.
Rule #6: Send greetings that celebrate the intent of the season, which is, remember, gratitude. Just because your college friends insist on enclosing photos of their children, does not entitle your staff to make a self-indulgent video and send it to your clients or, heaven help us all, strangers.
Rule #7: Be considerate of the recipients’ circumstances. Do they work in a big corporation with limited mailbox sizes? Do they restrict access to external websites? Maybe that 5MB slide show and link to a clever animation isn’t going to make it through? Maybe it will shut down their email system and end life as they know it. That’s not very festive, is it?
Rule #8: Keep it simple. A paper card requires very little skill to operate; the electronic version should be likewise. It should take one click to open, and that click should be the one that opens the email so they see your card. Anything that involves going to a website, downloading a new version of Java, updating your trusted sites list, deleting cookies, creating a user profile or doing anything more complicated than tearing paper is asking too much.
The Suggestion: Seriously consider taking the several thousand dollars you are planning to spend on this and giving it to a local charity. Still feeling festive? Call your customers and suppliers on the phone and thank them for the great year in person.
Last time we looked at multiple violations of these rules. Just to close things off on a more positive note, here are two cards that worked.
Isn’t this nice? The good folks at RC&AC sent a pretty photo, a simple greeting and a bit of information about holiday hours.
Despite offering a video, this card from Dalhousie University works because it’s simple, the video runs on one click, and I can get the general idea without having to look at the video. Plus there are no dogs or babies in it, which makes things merry and bright indeed.