Dear Valued Customer: Blah blah blah blah blah

21 12 2011

Personalize it!Let’s get personal…

The holidays are a time when we connect most deeply with our own unique traditions and very precious and personal family moments.

It’s also a time when the outside world most adamantly sticks its nose into our beeswax. And in reality, it has to because, for many companies, this time of year is when their products and services are needed most. They have to blast their message out to out-market their competitors… their long-term survival depends on it!

We expect marketing bombardment from the big guys, and we expect it to be about as personal as a visit to the Secretary of State (i.e. not at all). But as a local business, this actually gives us the edge. We CAN be personal because we KNOW our customers!

The Dreaded Form Letter
We’ve all been subjected to holiday form letters from twice removed cousins and acquaintances-of-lifetimes-past… they usually start with “Dear Friends & Family… Well, it’s been quite a year for us…”

The irony of form letters is that those we cherish most are almost always “in the loop,” especially today with social networking. They already know the important things going on in our lives. And if they don’t, an impersonal form letter is hardly the way to make them feel valued.

Well, businesses are just as guilty of this societal faux pas. At a time of year defined by its intensely personal vibe, “Dear Valued Customer” has about as much impact as ‘nog’-less eggnog. A warm, personalized, handwritten (if possible) holiday wish will always mean more, impress more, inspire more and show true respect for those people who are keeping you in business.

Quickie photo cards are becoming all the rage these days – drop a few family photos into a seasonal template, print, stamp and send. These might find a temporary home on the fridge of close family, but it requires no consideration for the recipient. Where’s the personalized touch that lets you know that you’re more than just a line item on a holiday mailing list?

Is your business guilty of sending similarly “production line” postcards? A staff photo, or pictures of staff in action/using your product is a definite improvement over smiling stock photo models. And when a personal note just isn’t feasible, try including something you know will benefit your customers or make their lives easier during the holidays (coupons, free in-store chair massages, 1-day turn-around on home deliveries). Let your customers know that they’re more than just a wallet.

The DMT Challenge
This is a sacred time of year. It’s okay to mass market but, if you want to be part of the inner circle, leave the fakery to the box stores. Just be genuine! So here’s my challenge to you:

Brainstorm 5 ways you can personalize your holiday message to your customers. Over the coming year, flesh out your ideas, and test them during annual holidays, like Easter, your business’ anniversary and Halloween. By the time the winter holidays roll around next year, you’ll have a terrific system in place for making your customers feel like family!

As I type, the post office has just delivered a box of homemade cookies, hand-sewn holiday potholders and a handwritten card from one very splendid pair of friends. Thanks for the perfectly timed example, you two!

Dawn M. Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry, LLC  |  810.923.4582  |