Saying thanks to your small business customers during the holidays

By Mark G. Auerbach

The holiday season is already upon us, even though the Pumpkin Spice season arrived before Labor Day, and the Christmas in Retail Land Season was here before Halloween candies went in the mark-down bins. The extended holiday seasons are a great time to share the “holiday spirit” and the one time of the year that we seem to emphasize “good will towards men–and women.” As small business owners, how we position our business this time of year and how we remind our market of who we are is art as much as craft.

We used to send holiday cards and client gifts to our clients, media contacts, and vendors, all with the assumption that even if we name-branded everything, it might get lost in the shuffle. So, we took the money we’d have spent, and created a simple postcard with this simple message:

“T’is the season of giving and caring. With that holiday spirit in mind, Mark G. Auerbach Public Relations wishes you a happy holiday season. Please know that the money we’d have spent on fancy cards and gifts has been donated to two local non-profit organizations that provide services in our community for the greater good.”

We were able to support some non-profits, get our message out there, and showcase our commitment to community.

[amazon_link asins=’B01LQM8SCC’ template=’ProductAd’ store=’succeedingi0d-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0eee86f3-e101-11e8-9afc-a9ea6f52dedb’]We now send the postcard via email, and post the same message to social media. We also use social media to wish our community a happy Thanksgiving, a happy Chanukah, a merry Christmas, and a happy New Year on those holidays. We keep the message simple: “Season’s greetings” and keep the business chatter, i.e. holiday hours, out of the greeting. With social media, you can post store hours, office hours, etc. in a separate post.

If you’re going the card route, consider purchasing your cards from a local museum or gallery that showcases its artists. That sends a good message. If you’re giving gifts, and you’re a retailer, consider a gift card to your establishment, because it brings people into your store. Otherwise, support your local small businesses to show support of your local colleagues.

What to give

The best gifts I’ve received are logo-branded unique items I’ll want to use. One local ad agency sends winter scarves with their logo–very handy here in cold New England climates. Another ends those little ice scrapers we all use on cold winter mornings. A travel company sends out Chapstick with their logo in the outside of the package. Simple, clever, usable items meant to be practical, and remind the recipient of the donor each time they’re used.

About Giving Tuesday

And, if you’re planning on supporting non-profits, consider making that gift on Giving Tuesday, which is Tuesday, November 27. It’s a day when the local non-profits showcase their causes and ask for support online. Many of them are asking support for specific projects, and some have matching gifts lined up for those who contribute on that day. In other words, “ABC Company matches dollar for dollar everything contributed.” A couple of things to think about in this regard:

-You may think it’s great to spread $100 among ten worthy non-profits, but after the credit cards take their processing fees, what’s left is a drop in the bucket. So, the organization will do better with a larger gift. It may be possible that some of the Giving Tuesday matching funds can apply to checks mailed instead, where there’s no processing fee.

-Consider offering a matching gift to your favorite local charity. When they announce it to their constituents, it puts you in a good light.

-If you can provide product or service to the non-profit, offer it. If you’re a butcher, baker, or candy stick maker, your gift may help the non-profit raise more money, and they’ll say “Compliments of your company.”

Of course, common sense says your company’s support of a non-profit should be earmarked to something non-religious, non-political, and non-controversial to your market. You don’t want to offend your customer base.

[amazon_link asins=’B07JN43LKK’ template=’ProductAd’ store=’succeedingi0d-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’20dde5e0-e101-11e8-92bb-4d38f31fd3f3′]And as you position your holiday greetings, remain inclusive. The only “War on Christmas” out there is the imaginary one created to divide people. The entire point of sharing a holiday greeting with your company’s name on it is to be inclusive.

Visit here for details on Giving Tuesday.

Sending you all holiday cheer!


Mark G. Auerbach is principal at Mark G. Auerbach Public Relations, a Springfield, MA, based marketing, public relations, development and events consultancy. He is also the arts columnist and reporter for The Westfield News Group in Massachusetts and Connecticut and producer/host of ArtsBeat Radio on 89.5fm/WSKB. You can find more information about Mark at Facebook and LinkedIn.

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