Looking to add a little "great" to your season's greetings? Take a peek at the list below to punch up your skills with the holiday mainstays of greeting cards and seasonal food baskets. After all, as Santa himself knows well, what's holiday gift-giving without a little list-making?
FOOD GIFTS: Breaking Bread Better
1. Advertise the Menu
Depending on how you promote yourself to your clients, it may not always be obvious to them that you sell food gifts. After all, from an outsider perspective how logical is it that the person who provides their uniforms and calendars would also sell food? To boost up your food sales for the season, take the proactive approach. "Don't wait for clients to call you asking for food gifts," said Tom Riordan, president of Maple Ridge Farms, Mosinee, Wis. "They won't. They don't even know that you can provide food gifts," he stated. "Call every client and explain that you are their best source for food gift programs."
2. Be Up-front with Ingredients
Because of the potential seriousness of food allergies, all ingredients in your food gifts should be explicitly clear to end-users. "Make sure any item that is shipped clearly lists all ingredients," said Sheila Shechtman, CEO and founder of Gifted Expressions, East Hartford, Conn. "That way, people with food allergies will be informed." She cited nuts especially as an allergy concern, mentioning peanuts in particular.
3. 70 Degrees, Ship as you Please
Shechtman and Riordan gave a safe temperature range of 70-to-78 degrees for shipping heat-sensitive foods like chocolate. Under that, the items will be fine, but over will require the use of special packaging, such as insulated polystyrene cartons and liquid ice packs. Expedited service may also be required. Suppliers will of course provide such packaging before shipping and likely be aware of the relevant weather conditions, but it can't hurt to know the limits yourself for the sake of double-checking.
GREETING CARDS: Making the Thought Count
1. Show Those Logos
Joel D. Schaffer, MAS, CEO of Soundline Inc., Randolph, N.J., stated how important it was to keep a client's logo clearly visible on the front of a greeting card. "It's very nice to say Merry Christmas, happy holidays, happy New Year's, that's the ultimate sentiment, but in business it's about branding and logo," he said. "Today's greeting card has the opportunity to put the logo right on the front of the card. And that's where clients should be steered more, to put their logo where it belongs, in conspicuous, plain sight."
2. Make it Last
While thoughtful, greeting cards unfortunately become very disposable once the season ends. To keep your client's logos around longer, Schaffer suggested adding value to your cards by having them double as something more permanent. He noted cards that fold into calendars as an example, and also pointed to bookmark cards and co-packaged items like audio CDs and flash drives as other options.
3. Go Sustainable
Schaffer explained that 100 percent recycled greeting cards can be problematic, since cards made from fully recycled pulp will lack the popular bright white inside coloration unless they're subjected to a harsh chemical bleaching process. For those concerned with the environment as well as card-whiteness, Schaffer recommended partially recycled cards that get their virgin pulp from sustainably managed forests. A "sustainably managed forest" is one monitored by an environmental group such as the Forest Stewardship Council or the Sustainable Forest Initiative, where the lumber-gathering process is controlled so all materials are harvested in an environmentally responsible way.
4. Be Friendly to all Faiths
The likelihood that your client is targeting a multicultural end-user base is reasonable, so you are going to want to tailor your promotional copy accordingly in order to avoid hurt feelings among recipients. "A basic rule of thumb is businesses don't want to say Merry Christmas, businesses want to say happy holidays," said Schaffer. He noted as well that generic seasonal imagery, such as snow, is often preferred to Christian iconography like ornaments and Christmas trees. He explained however, that this was only a general guideline and that companies will sometimes opt for religion-specific greetings based on the personal preference of management or knowledge of their intended end-user group's faith.
Like extra candy in your stocking, here are two holiday sales pointers to add a little joy to your sales world:
1. Think "Account Penetration"
Depending on a company's size, it can have a great number of promotional product buyers (Schaffer stated that a large American corporation can have from 50 to 100 buyers). Given their cultural ubiquity and their value to companies both internally and externally, holiday items can be a useful way to establish yourself with other buyers within a client. "It's part of your yearly summertime sweep to find out who's buying and where you can prospect," said Schaffer.
2. Buy Early
Products with heavily seasonal buying cycles, such as calendars or greeting cards, will often be marked down considerably during off-peak months. With holiday items, start searching around now if you can to lock up a pricing advantage on your winter promotions. Schaffer cited July specifically as the best time to start buying calendars.