How To Quantitatively Build a Customer Base This Holiday Season (Part I)

Optimizing holiday cards for return

Over the years we have experimented and collected data on all sorts of different approaches to building a customer base during the holiday season. If you are the sentimental type, this approach likely isn’t for you as this combines sentiment with a heavy dose of quantitative data culled from years of experimenting. The goal here is to not only spread sincere thanks, but build business in the most efficient manner possible.


Here is a 7 step process that is the most effective at getting results (defined as loan or deposit business):


Step 1 – Forget Cards In December. We have found that only about 20% of respondents remember a holiday or Christmas card 30 days after it was sent. This compares to 53% for a Thanksgiving Card and 42% for a New Year’s card. Given the data, forget the Christmas, Season Greetings, Hanukah, Solstice and Kwanzaa cards this year and set your bank apart by sending a Thanksgiving card. You are thanking your customers for their business so the holiday is very appropriate.


Step 2- Decide How, When and Who. Your top 10% of customers should get a personal handwritten note and a card. The top 50% of your most profitable customers; important past customers, potential customers, vendors, shareholders and “friends” of the bank should get a card with a hand signature. Everyone else gets an emailed card. If that sounds a little impersonal, we agree but the goal of this campaign is to optimize the return on investment. If you can afford a customized card – perfect, if not pick something memorable, yet classy. We have found that next to humor, a card with a crisp outdoor photo that sums up the season works nicely.  Include a printed logo on the inside, hopefully in color. Finally, make sure the envelope stands out – anything but white – what we found works best is a rich, dark orange.


Ideally, the card should go out on the 18th or 19th of November to hit before clients take off. If you can’t get it out by then, hold it until the 26th and send the card with an extra slip of paper apologizing for being late as the “month got away from you.” This is most likely true and the extra slip will help with recall later. 


Step 3 – Nail What to Say. Thanksgiving is a holiday of gratitude and this is your opportunity to say a sincere “Thank You.” Forget about any mention of business, promotions or slipping your business card in. The card should be short, authentic, clear and heartfelt. We might suggest something like: “We are thankful for a great many things in our lives, but your business and friendship is high among them. Thank you for your support over the years.”


Step 4 – Get It Out. Put a stamp on it instead of a postmark and mail it. For email, make the proper adjustments and send it out. For the record (and we will come back to this in the next segment), you have spent around $3 for the card/envelope, 45 cents for the stamp and about 3 minutes of labor per card (including management) for $2.75 which comes to an investment for Part 1 of $6.2 per card.


After you complete this effort, pat yourself on the back, go grab a salad to prepare for the upcoming feast and keep reading as this was just Part One of this two part campaign. Part Two involves sending a follow up New Year’s card with a promotion. We will cover that at the end of the month along with detailing the estimated return on investment, so stay tuned.


Until then, if you need help with any of the above, contact us and we will be happy to help manage and consult on the process for free in exchange for tracking the data on your campaign. You still have time so be sure to get this project underway so you can have even more to be thankful for next year. 

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