The sending of holiday greetings each December is a long-standing custom. But in addition to delivering messages of good cheer, those obligatory greeting cards also provide an invaluable marketing opportunity. Rather than sending store-bought cards, consider developing a clever, branded piece that can promote your services while building and strengthening relationships.

Below are five tips to help you achieve holiday greeting success:

Choose an appropriate format
Consider your audience, objectives, timeline and budget. Printed greetings feel more personal, but can become costly to produce and distribute. Digital greetings offer opportunities for generating traffic to your website, but can get lost in a spam filter. Determine which medium will be most effective for your purposes.

Stand out
Your recipients will be receiving many other holiday greetings at the same time. To be an effective marketing piece, yours needs to be unique and memorable. There are many ways you can achieve this:

  • Include a handwritten note and/or team photos to emphasize a personal connection with your recipient.
  • Add an interactive element that requires engagement beyond a quick read. For example, greetings could include paper toys or games, or take the form of a calendar or ornament.
  • Pair the greeting with a relevant gift or donation to a charitable organization.
  • Incorporate humor or cleverly reference current events.

Be inclusive
While December is unquestionably a celebratory season, be mindful that not everyone on your list will be celebrating the same holiday the same way. Avoid calling out a specific holiday and do not show any religious imagery (angels, nativity scenes, menorahs). While characters like Santa Claus and his elves are associated specifically with Christmas, they are generally accepted as non-religious figures that appeal to a wider audience. However, seasonal decorations (wreaths, lights, holly) and winter imagery (snowflakes, evergreens, birds) are the safest motifs to employ without excluding or offending anyone.

Leverage your brand
Companies are often quick to jump to red and green Christmas imagery for holiday greetings. But as a marketing piece, your greeting must also communicate your brand. Look for ways to develop the piece within your brand identity. Play off existing taglines or messaging to deliver a holiday-themed wish. Use your brand guidelines to create celebratory imagery that follows your photography/illustration style. Pair your brand fonts with a festive script. Stay within your established brand colors, but use them selectively to create an appropriate winter palette.

Keep it professional
The holidays are an opportunity to be less formal and more playful with your communications, but be careful to avoid crossing the line into cheesiness or offensiveness. Remember this is a marketing opportunity and you want to position your company as one that customers will want to work with. Lewd jokes, political commentary or goofy photos will contradict that message.