Whatever happened to just great prices ….. all the time?

Just when I think I’ve seen the last of any particular email promo during the holiday season, I receive another variation in my inbox. Looking back over the last couple of weeks, here’s a small sampling, and for space purposes, I left out all of the anticipatory promo emails for Black Friday and just started on the day itself:

Black Friday
Cyber Monday
Cyber “Week”
“Extended” Cyber Sale!
“Extended AGAIN ” Cyber Monday
“Last Chance” Sale!
“One more day” extended!
“Our FINAL” holiday sale!
“A special gift – We’ve extended” our sale for you!

AHHH!

The trend is clearly turning into one continuous promo each season with no way to trust when any one of them will really end. We already can safely assume there will be another one beginning. Perhaps this sounds good to you and “special”.  For me, it’s nauseating and even a bit insulting because basically, the store from where I receive the email is stating that a particular sale ends on a certain date only for me to learn a day later that the end date did not actually need to be counted on.

Do you think the store owners or marketing team decided to extend the promo out of the goodness of their heart?  No.  It’s all part of a calculated and pre-planned promo calendar that basically leaves many customers feeling toyed with and led on. It’s one gimmicky extension after another. I’ve never felt good about the companies who do this, nor have I felt good when we as a company experimented a couple of times with promos like these ourselves.

Perhaps we aren’t great marketers at Holiday Cards Unlimited. We make great products and offer them at the lowest possible price, we avoid gimmicky promos, we respect and appreciate our customers, we’ll beat any competitor’s pricing if a customer happens to find the same item currently priced lower (which only happens if we weren’t aware of that pricing), and we provide attentive and thoughtful customer service. Does anyone have a great subject line to convey this?  I doubt it, because simplicity and great value alone doesn’t seem to grab attention amongst all the promo noise.  Would love to hear your thoughts on the topic overall.

New site, new cards, and a vast selection for 2016 and 2017

We’re proud of our new website where you can customize your card completely online!  We have loads of new holiday cards for this year and the coming year:

Holiday Cards for Business

Photo Holiday Cards

Calendar Cards

Christmas Cards

And, a wide range of stationery and business greetings, wedding invitations, products for parties and celebrations, and more!

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Memorial Day: Taking the Time to Say Thanks

'Flags-In' at Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day 2008

To join the military is to accept that duty may ultimately require you to lay down your life. Despite growing up in a military family, this never occurred to me, and it certainly never occurred to me to be grateful for this sacrifice.

After I moved to New York City post-9/11 I saw a civilian approach a man in military garb and personally thank him for his service to our country.

And then another approached and did the same thing.

And then another.

The sight shocked and humbled me.

This man was on his way to Afghanistan because his duty led him there. Anything could happen. He could come back physically unscathed but wracked with PTSD…or he could not come back at all.

And yet, he knew where his duty lay and he was going quietly, boldly towards it…and no fewer than three stoic, angry New Yorkers approached him personally to say thanks.

What if we all took the time to say thanks?

Just one moment out of one day to acknowledge that the things we have and enjoy are the direct result of the actions of others.

What a good idea.

Turns out, there is a national moment of silence at 3pm every year on Memorial Day to honor all of the fallen American soldiers from all wars in history.

Well.

I intend to celebrate Memorial Day in the traditional way, with barbecue and 5K races and water sports and snow cones and pie. I intend to enjoy my freedom and take advantage of all this holiday has to offer.

And yet…

I am also going to take a moment at 3pm to say thanks.

Five Funny Christmas Cards for Business

5 Funny Holiday Cards

Peace, joy, and love are great, but sometimes the holidays can feel a little heavy.

Lighten up with humorous holiday cards – they’re not limited to your family and friends.

Here are some of our favorites that are whimsical and work-appropriate:

Absent-Minded Santa

If you or your customers use computers, you’ve been here, too.

There's No Business Like Your Business

Bonus points if you’re in show biz. Annie Oakley would be proud.

Construction Santa

Too bad Santa isn’t as smart as your customers who hired you to do the construction instead!

Reindeer Stethoscope

Make your patients smile (and remind them to use up that HSA by the end of the year).

Funny Face Photo Card

Really small staff? Let them see your smiling faces – and your sense of humor – for a truly personal touch.

Not for you? Try one of our other humorous holiday cards instead.
Happy Holidays!

Sharing the Holidays Through Christmas Letters

Central Park, Manhattan

My wife’s family lives in South Carolina, mine lives in Tennessee, and we live in New York. We don’t get to see either side as often as we’d like, though we fly south when we get the chance.

The holidays are a problem.

We want to see both families, so we try to divide and conquer. We spend Thanksgiving with one side, and Christmas with the other.

Both families want us for Christmas, though, so we alternate years. Last year was Christmas with her family, and this year we’ll be with mine. It’s the best we can do, but it’s far from perfect – one family always misses out on Christmas morning.

We make phone calls and send gifts, but what really helps is the Christmas letter. When we mail our Christmas cards, we enclose a 1-2 page letter describing highlights from the past year, along with a couple of photos and funny stories.

Yes, it’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. The holidays are a time for storytelling and reflection, and these letters help our friends and family feel more connected to us.

Even if you don’t have time to write a letter, you can send a photo card with a personalized message. Family photos are great, but pictures with a story behind them can be even better. Find a way to let loved ones into your life this Christmas, even if you can’t be with them in person.

Do you send an annual Christmas letter?

Photo credit: Jon Nicholls

My (New) Thanksgiving Tradition

Not-So-Festive Thanksgiving Table Setting

Whether your traditions are old or new, there is always room for people. Growing up in a military family we never spent the holidays in the same place. No matter who hosted us, however, my fondest memory is trying to fit everyone around the holiday table.

As an adult living la vie Boehme in New York City, most people eat their holiday meals in studio apartments on couches or even the floor. This was an appalling adjustment for me. It didn’t seem fair.

So, being resourceful (as an NYC transplant must be), I made the best decision of my life: I bought a dining table and insisted on hosting Thanksgiving dinner each year.

My table is magical.

The first time someone comes into my home for a holiday they see the table, the china, the candles, the servingware, and they usually gasp with delight and say, “Wow, you have a TABLE? It’s just like going home!” Somehow, a carefully set table with a dozen or more places, a clever centerpiece, and a 23-pound turkey make us all feel comforted and happy.

My old tradition of jostling family members for the best seats at the family table has transitioned into my new tradition: making the community of family-less Bohemians of New York City feel warm, welcome, and at home for the holidays.

I’m sure I’ll continue tweaking my traditions to fit into my chaotic life, but one thing will always remain constant: Thanksgiving is about connecting with people, and my beautiful table helps us NYC Bohemians celebrate the holidays as we were meant to do: with family.

What is your Thanksgiving tradition? Have you been to the same seat at the same table for the last 30 years? Or are you a nomad like me? Do you spend your Thanksgivings watching football, or do you rest in preparation for Black Friday shopping?

Image credit: BFS Man

Thanksgivingukkah: Two Holidays in One, and Just This Once

Happy Thanksgivingukkah!

As a child, I had a couple of friends whose birthdays fell on or near Christmas Day. I remember thinking that sounded pretty great – that it would make both celebrations more special. In reality, though, my friends felt like they were getting a raw deal. Instead of two celebrations, they only got one, and they had to share it!

This month has its own combined celebration: in an incredibly unique overlap, Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah both fall on November 28. This once-in-a-lifetime coincidence is made possible by an unusually early Hanukkah, and the fact that Thanksgiving falls on the latest date it can possibly occur.

Mathematician Jonathan Mizrahi has worked out some fascinating information about this unique overlap, which the internet has dubbed “Thanksgivingukkah.” The last time this occurred was in 1888. The next time won’t be until the year 79811.

Yes, you read that right: this is the last Thanksgivingukkah for more than seventy-seven thousand years!

Remembering my friends with the Christmas birthdays, I think I’ll send two cards to my Jewish friends this November: one for Thanksgiving and one for Hanukkah.

How are you celebrating this once-in-a-thousand-lifetimes occasion? Let us know in the comments.

Happy Thanksgivingukkah!

Email vs. Snail Mail

Message to the mail man

When’s the last time you received actual mail?

Not a bill. Not an advertisement. Just a straight up piece of mail – bonus points if it was handwritten.

Can you even remember?

First class mail volume through the US Postal Service has declined over 50 percent in the last decade. Junk mail, just over 10 percent. In fact, advertising mail outstripped first class post by over 15% in 2012.

Even with shrinking numbers, the US Postal Service still processes an average of 528 million pieces of mail each day.

When was the last time you got an email? Or is a better question, how many emails do you get each day? Estimates vary on the number of emails sent each day, but the low end is 144 billion.

Even if you can’t remember when you last got personal mail by post, you probably remember what you do still receive. A birthday card from Mom, a sympathy card from a friend, a get well card from your aunt… You get the picture.

As for email, it’s easy to get lost in all the digital noise of our busy world. Facebook notifications, text messages, and work email after hours add up. An iPhone dings in a crowd and everyone dives for their pocket to see what new communiqué awaits them.

Digital communication is great! It’s efficient, inexpensive, and convenient. But it’s also common.

Junk mail flyers go straight into the recycle bin, but real mail simply carries more weight than email. A physical paper card has more impact than an e-card. Even if you save an e-card in your inbox, what’s the chance you’ll look at it again? I’ve never seen suggestions for attractively displaying e-cards for the holidays.

Make your communication meaningful. Don’t add to the noise, cut through it with something concrete. Whether it’s a birthday celebration or an expression of genuine sympathy, seasonal greetings, or a congratulatory note, people appreciate the extra time, energy, and thought that go in to sending a real card.

When is the last time you sent real mail?

Photo credit: gajman

Congratulations Cards for Work

A for Effort? Nah.

Were you one of those kids who was expected to bring home good grades in school? Other parents (gasp) paid their kids to bring home As while you got The Look for anything less than an A-minus. Sound familiar?

Business can be the same way, and it’s easy to overlook consistent high performance. But business is built on relationships. Don’t limit your interactions to trouble-shooting and complaints. Make sure to commend your contacts for their reliability and quality work.

One way to do this is to send a congratulations card. Here are a few reasons why.
Continue reading “Congratulations Cards for Work”

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

As we say goodbye to 2012 and prepare to ring in 2013, we want to thank you again for your business and support.

In the coming year we will continue to provide choice, convenience, and quality through our customized greeting card offerings. We will also use this space and our social media opportunities to help build relationships, both personal and professional. We want to help you do the same.

Wishing you all the best in the new year!