It’s that time of year again — HOLIDAY CARDS! We wait with bated breath to run to the mailbox and gauge our relative popularity. When we find one there, we feel obligated to read it and keep it somewhere in our house. For us, it’s the front door, where, out of guilt or sheer awkwardness, I tape greetings from family, friends and many we hardly know, as well as the pictures that often come along with these greetings.
What’s ironic is that even many of the cynics among us who sometime scoff at the cards of others (READ: ME) not only still engage in the practice of sending them, but often agonize over the format and content of said cards, and it doesn’t always go well for us.
In my experience, while there are some good ones out there, holiday cards fall into a few different categories. Here is a synopsis of each. For extra credit, guess which category mine falls into this year?
- I send one to half the free world, so I buy a “basic” card and sign only my name. In this world, although the sender gets credit for sending, everyone knows he or she didn’t exactly “Care enough to send the very best” or personalize in any way. Message: You’re on my radar, but not exactly top of my list.
- I spent a lot of money with a photographer or time with a camera to get this done. These look great, but it’s clear to everyone that the sender may have too much time and or money on his/her hands. Bottom line: While it may be festive and charming, no one thinks your kids or pets are as cute as you do — even if they’re in Santa hats.
- I wish to enlighten the world. These are text-driven rather than visually-stimulating pieces, through which senders seek to inspire, enlighten or foist their opinions on others. These generally center on things most people who send and receive Christmas cards already understand implicitly, like the true meaning of Christmas or the desire for world peace. Lesson: Nice try, but there may be a “duh” factor here.
- I’m just showing off. These pieces, which often feature prized possessions or family trip photos, are a way of showing your love, while sticking it to Cousin Susie, whose family did not go on a cruise this year. Translation: Nanny, nanny, boo, boo!
- I tend to overshare. This is the classic family newsletter filled with information such as career information, key milestones, children’s activities, travel updates and Heaven forbid — a month-by-month play-by-play of your life. The fact that the sender KNOWS deep down that that no one outside his or her immediate family cares about this information in the least does not dissuade them from their chosen path. Point: It’s all about me!
So, where’s the marketing message in all of this? Well, marketing pieces can fall into these categories as well. Is your company guilty of producing similar materials? Do you send press releases with no real news? Do you distribute newsletters that only talk about your company instead of sharing valuable content? Do you appeal to the lowest common denominator or offer a unique value proposition? Do you segment your messages based on audience or take a one-size fits all approach? We’ve all snickered at this type of card at least once in our lifetime. Let’s hope no one’s giggling at your marketing.