No one builds a business alone!

There is no missing the fact that the Christmas season is upon us. Everywhere you look buildings are bedecked with boughs of holly (as the song goes…) and the retail industry is in overdrive to ensure that we buy, buy, buy.

If December is not your busiest period you may well be taking this time to plan, get organised or just recharge the batteries before it all starts again with a vengeance in January. While you’re at it spare a thought, in all of the seasonal madness, for those that have helped your business get to where it is now – clients, staff… Don’t forget the suppliers that provided everything you needed to look and be the best.

Appreciate those who have helped you build your business

Times are still tough for business so make sure you let your staff know that you appreciate all their efforts over the year. Not every company can give a bonus, or afford a full-on staff party, but quite often it’s not about the money it’s about the acknowledgement. Give them something unexpected like a free day off for Christmas shopping, impromptu afternoon drinks and nibbles in the office, or some other group activity that will bring them together.

Likewise with clients – business owners often wonder if it’s a good idea to mix clients with staff at Christmas… Why not? …and while you’re at it you might as well throw a few favoured suppliers into the mix. If you are worried about how your staff might behave, then remind them of a few rules of engagement beforehand and keep an eye on things during the event if you really must. Most people know how to behave and inviting your key clients for an informal drink, in a decent bar, is a nice way to say ‘thanks for working with us’. Also, it’s a great opportunity to present the human side of the business and help clients put a face to a name – it makes for better working relationships too.

Season’s greetings

An e-card or not an e-card…? That is the question. There is a definite trend towards ditching the printed card and sending e-cards with a declaration that the money saved in postage will be donated to charity. Benefits to charity aside, I think it’s a shame, the printed card is still special and there is a place for both. You could always send a card to your key clients and an e-card to everyone else. But don’t spoil a season’s greeting with an added sales pitch. That would be like sending a friend a birthday card with an advert blazoned across it – you wouldn’t would you…? There is absolutely nothing wrong with sending out sales messages around Christmas but do try to keep the two messages separate.

Support a local charity

While you’re in a giving mood why not make a small donation to whatever charity resonates with you or aligns with your business. Again it doesn’t have to be money, if for example you’re a baker, donate a batch of your mince pies to the local church for their carol service; give staff a free day off to help at a shelter or food bank. Give blood – anything that allows people to give something back to the community that you and your staff live and work in.

However you express it, the Christmas season is a good time to thank all the people that have believed in you enough to keep you in business. Have fun with it and if you are one of those businesses for which December is your busiest time…

…Wishing you a prosperous Christmas and a happy new year.

Deborah Rowe

Deborah is a chartered marketer, member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and fellow of both the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing and the RSA. She has more than 20 years of solid marketing and communications experience which she puts to good use as principal consultant of Sheba Marketing. Sheba Marketing provides no-nonsense business-to-business marketing support to small and medium-sized organisations that want to achieve great things.

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