All of the holiday cheer associated around this time of year is a great excuse to log some business development hours. After all, market research continuously proves that businesses need to make contact with (or ‘touch’) a potential customer many times before making even one sale. How many times depends on several factors, including the price and complexity of the product or service.

And once that first sale is made, it’s important to remember to touch those customers just as regularly as the potential customers so that they return.

Every December then, many business owners instinctively reach for a stack of holiday cards to sign and send. But reaching out and connecting — truly connecting — at this time of year needs to mean so much more than simply sending out holiday cards to your entire contact list and calling it a day. Everyone sends holiday cards, which means there’s nothing unique or personal about them. To make your business development efforts worth your while, you need to do something more.

 

Have fun, get personal and make it memorable. 

 

Send a fun e-mail blast. Having fun and going completely off-script is not wasting an opportunity to promote your products or services. Instead, it associates your business with good feelings and a chuckle. If you’re on our Smart Foundations mailing list, then from time to time you’ve received emails with our favourite cocktail recipes or our picks for the top five worst gifts to give your partner. Sending these type of emails is a great way to touch current, past and potential customers without selling or promoting anything but your company name. (Pro tip: people remember fun and where it came from far more than they remember a sales-y email.)

Share holiday news. If off-script is not something you are comfortable with, then send a holiday email blast to share company news. Changing your business hours for the holidays? Include that. Have a great new product or service in the works for January? Tease that. Hired new employees this year? Introduce (or re-introduce) them. Giving back to the community? Write about that. Had a really successful year? Share that (but make sure it doesn’t come off sounding like those cheesy family holiday letters).

Go out for lunch. For VIP clients, make the time to take them out for a meal (or at the very least a drink). It’s a busy time of year for everyone, but making the effort shows these customers that you appreciate their business, their loyalty and their confidence in your business.

Send a gift. Like drinks or lunch, a gift is a way great to show appreciation to key current and past clients. It doesn’t need to be a big deal — gift baskets, bottles of wine or gift cards to a favourite store are all good ways to say thank you and happy holidays.

Make a phone call. A quick phone call to say hello and offer your best wishes for a joyous holiday season is another personal way to maintain and grow your relationship with your existing network. The catch is to only offer best wishes and not try to make a sale at the same time.

Overspending and the holidays go hand-in-hand. But without proper accrual planning, you’ll find yourself in a deep cash flow hole if you don’t properly plan for additional expenses like paying holiday bonuses. We’ll have all that in our next blog.

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