From the December 2012 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

Holiday Card Crisis

It’s that time of year again … the time of year when my mailbox overflows with warm holiday wishes. I always find it amusing that most of these holiday wishes are from people who don’t know me. They are from people who want to do business with me, “Wishing you a Happy Holiday Season from your friends at The Midway Tap …  home of the .50 cent schooner of Budweiser!”

I don’t know about you, but nothing gives me a warmer, fuzzier holiday feeling than knowing I am a key cog in hundreds of marketing plans across the continent. I find it somewhat comforting to know I will be receiving birthday and holiday cards for the rest of my life.  

So, who is to blame for this postal punishment? My guess is some old hairy-eared marketing guru, after a few late-night scotch-and-sodas came up with this brilliant idea. “Let’s send all these idiots a birthday card! They’ll think we really mean it, so they’ll eventually want to do business with us.”

It couldn’t have been more than a few moments before this tiny spark of genius burst into a huge creative flame. “Wait … how about we send them a Christmas card as well? Chanukah? Kwanzaa? The possibilities are endless!” This marks the beginning of, what I like to call, The Great Hallmark Conspiracy.

Financial advisors everywhere have sipped this marketing Kool-Aid. I know this because I get about three thousand holiday cards from financial advisors every year (and I’m broke). Is there an advisor out there who isn’t sending a load of holiday cards to clients and prospects? I rest my case. 

Of the thousands of holiday cards I get every year, I do get one from my broker as well. Over the past 20 years, my own broker’s holiday marketing machine has become something of a comforting tradition. I can easily spot my broker’s holiday card because it’s the nicest one in the mailbox. It’s the one with the finest paper stock. It also comes complete with fancy golden printing of my broker’s name, the staff’s names and, of course, THE COMPANY’S NAME.

I know my broker cares about me because he always signs his first name and has his staff sign their first names as well. In my head, I see them all drinking hot chocolate, building gingerbread houses and signing my card. I’m sure it’s on purpose that there is no personal note in the card. It would most likely distract from the shock and awe of one of Hallmark’s finest cards. Did I mention my broker is my brother?

At some point, the whole card thing must have been an OK marketing idea. Now it’s become a cliché. Trust me, if my local pest control guy is sending me the same thing my financial advisor is sending me, it might be time to change things up.

Here’s what I propose. As a bold marketing experiment, next year, when the holidays roll around, don’t send any cards. Don’t have 15 meetings to discuss color schemes and fonts. Don’t work your staff to death addressing cards. Don’t stay up late for weeks licking envelopes and stamps. Don’t spend thousands of dollars on gold embossed envelopes. Don’t do any of it. Spend your marketing currency elsewhere.

If, on the small chance you start seeing some of your clients’ accounts being transferred over to your local pest control guy, you should probably start sending cards again. 

Enjoy your holidays. I wish you all a safe and prosperous new year.

Reprints Discuss this story
This is where the comments go.