Once, I had advised a business owner to send physical greeting cards to his long time clients. He shrugged it off to say, “we are into the new technology age now- the trend is to send e-cards. Furthermore, I am into paperless technology and want to save the environment”. And this comes from a man who is not really technology savvy- well, he buys all the new gadgets that hit the market but do not know much nitty gritty of computer systems. But even though he was willing to spend on himself, he is well known for being stingy to those of his liners and clients.
When I explained that e-cards are not the same as physical cards, especially if he is a business person and wanted his clients to remember him by, but he stuck stubbornly to his decision. While his downliners were writting greeting cards to clients, he had never sent a single greeting card for years. His downliners also complained to me when they received his e-card greeting in their mailbox. Most of them did not even want to open to view it.
Some expenses should not be saved- especially if you are a business owner. I agree with one of the way the Chinese do business is that most traditional old timers do not forget their important clients. Yes, they may lack in the sweet talk department but every Chinese New Year, you can expect a hamper of some sort from them. Small time vendors and contractors would not fail to send gifts for CNY to companies that contract them.
These may seems small, but the gifts often served as a reminder to your clients… about you. Often, it need not be something expensive like the hampers of sorts (even though if the company had given you few hundred thousand worth of business, you should budget aside something for their staff). There is no gurantee that your client would not replace you- but when the decision of the management comes to re-evaluate your business, the staff who usuallydeals with you may put in a nice word or two about you. That is why my company constantly renewed a vendor who is not only have good and courteous service, but would send generous gifts to all staff during CNY.
Even if you cannot afford, simple thing like a calendar or a greeting card also have an influence. Some companies print personalized table calendars that looked so nice that people cannot resist but to put in on their desk. Imagine, almost everyday they would refer to the calendar which have your company logo, address, website, goods/services offered and contact number on it. What a better way of advertising and put your company name in front of the face of your clients? The traditional Chinese businesses had been handling down calendar- the “horse racing” type for decades. If I have my own business, I would definitely take time to invest sometime to design the calendar.
Every year, I get a few greeting cards in the mail from those who never failed to send to me. It’s sort of makes it hard to forget them- some are from agents and those in the sales line and even though I do not contact them often, they do make me remember them.
Last year during CNY, someone gave me a very nice shopping bag- huge one made of cloth with the company logo clearly attached to the bag. But the bag is durable, useful especially for heavy items- I used it the entire year and of course when carrying the bag around, we are also indirectly promoting the company. These little investments work- you need not spend hundreds of thousands on advertising- subtle methods like this with is much lower in cost have a longer lasting effect.
Come festive time, the social media pages would be filled with mass greetings of posted festive e-card/messages and other electronic greeting cards. Like Facebook update, within a day or two or even hours, the person’s profile page would be replaced by some other updates. People would not remember all these electronic messages because there’s an information overload- they are being ‘bombed’ by all directions. But a ‘tangible’ card is harder to forget. Of course, it gets thrown away after the festive is over- then you may want to give something more lasting like pens, calendars, recycle bags, that lasts longger till the festive is over.