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New Year Cards - An Untapped Business Opportunity

Many small businesses set themselves apart from their larger competitors through boutique-like services, local social contribution activities, or even through small touches like sending out holiday cards. While e-cards --with holiday deals-- are more and more becoming the norm, sending out an old fashioned holiday card will not only provide a positive impression, but it can also function as an easy and inexpensive way to stay connected with your customers, clients, vendors and partners, and advertise and keep your company’s name at their fingertips.

Holiday cards are great for small businesses and are a time-honored tradition. But, times do change, and, with the changing times come new traditions. Therefore, another idea that many small businesses in the U.S. should consider is New Year cards. In East Asia, it is the norm to send out greeting cards to celebrate the start of a new year. Indeed, New Year is one of the biggest holidays celebrated in East Asia, and people typically exchange greetings through cards and visits in the same way many Americans send out holiday greeting cards.

While in China and Korea this celebration occurs around what is called the “Lunar New Year” (usually falling sometime from mid-January to mid-February); in Japan the holiday coincides with the first of January according to the Western calendar. Called O-Shogatsu, the Japanese New Year holiday is the most important holiday of the year, and the sending of New Year cards is one of the central celebratory activities. Not many businesses in Japan would neglect to send out these New Year greeting cards to their customers, business partners, shareholders or other stakeholders as it is considered good manners. And, from a business perspective, it makes good sense.

There are a few unique advantages to sending New Year cards instead of (or in addition to) holiday cards here in the U.S. The first obvious one is that your card won’t be lost in the deluge of holiday cards. Thus, for the same investment, there will be a better chance that the recipient will open and read it since it won’t be arriving with the rest of the holiday mail. Your New Year card will arrive as a unique greeting, and will therefore stand out more in the minds of recipients.

The second advantage of New Year’s cards is their timing. As mentioned, due to the timing your New Year’s card will not be just one of many holiday cards arriving in mid-December, but instead will be more unique. However, even more advantageous may be the tone that the message you convey can take. Because it is arriving at the start of a new year, it becomes not only an unique opportunity to include a short wrap-up of your company’s achievements from the previous year, it is also an appropriate time to state your company’s main goals and objectives for the coming year. These would not be as appropriate in holiday cards which tend to be more of a celebration of the accomplishments of the year that is coming to an end.

Finally, because of diverse world we live in, that, with technology, is getting smaller and smaller every year, sending out New Year’s cards is simply more neutral. One doesn’t have to tread as lightly around religious and cultural sensibilities because there are not as many associated with the beginning of the New Year, for example and because celebrating the arrival of a new year is an almost universal practice around the world. Sending out a card wishing your company’s clients, customers, partners and vendors good will in the “New Year” will make for an easy and much appreciated touch for a more diverse population of card recipients.

Tips & Things to Consider

· Time your cards to arrive as close to January 1st as possible. Make sure they don’t arrive before January 1st and aim for the first few days of the New Year.

· Begin with a Greeting. Wish your stakeholders a happy and prosperous New Year.

· Be sincere. For many cultures, New Year is a solemn time of year. So avoid humor. Be formal, as you would with a holiday card.

· Include a short summary of your company’s achievements from the previous year. What are you proud of? What goals did you meet? Did your company lend a hand in any local social contribution activities? This is your chance to make sure your stakeholders know what successes were made last year.

· Include a message about your company’s plans for the New Year. Will you be running any specials? Do you have any large targets? Will this year be kicking off any new projects? This is your chance to make these plans known.

· Personalize it. A message with the President’s name hand-signed at the end or a design that seems personalized will make an elegant and lasting impression.

· Include all of your company’s stakeholders in your mailing list. These cards are appropriate not just for your customers and shareholders, but for employees, local organizations and any other person or organization that has supported your company’s activities over the previous year. This is your chance to make those who have supported the company in the previous year feel appreciated at the start of a new year.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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