This year rather than mailing holiday cards, my employer is e-mailing holiday cards. The company isn’t a technology company, it’s a structural engineering firm. Is emailing holiday cards to business contacts (some of whom you have close client relationships with), regardless of what sector/business field you are in accepted all around?
S. K., Union City, CA
In today’s business world there is nothing inherently wrong with a business sending e-cards instead of mailed holiday cards. In fact, from an environmental point of view, it can be the right choice for the company’s image. Yes, there are recycled cards available as well, but a paperless card, an e-card, does make an environmental statement.
The company doesn’t have to be a technology company to send an e-card. Any company, large or small can do it.
The choice of mailed cards versus e-cards really rests with a couple of competing considerations. One of the most important benefits of a mailed card is its staying power. After it is opened, it is posted in a lobby or reception area where people are repeatedly reminded of the sender. An e-card is viewed on screen by the recipient and then not seen again unless it is printed and displayed with the cards received in the mail. Yet, how many companies make the effort to print the cards and post them? (And of course, one could argue that in printing them, the environmental argument, as well as the cost-saving argument, is weakened.)
Another benefit to the mailed card is that they can be signed personally by the whole staff at a small business or by the appropriate contact(s) for a larger firm. Adding a short note or sentiment makes the greeting all the more personal, especially for those with whom there is a close client relationship.
A mailed card carries both the cost of the card itself and the forty-four cent stamp needed to send it, so sending an e-card certainly is less expensive. Those savings can really add up as the size of the firm and the number of cards being sent escalates.
Each company needs to decide for itself what its best option is in choosing between the two. And perhaps some businesses will send a general e-card, but also send a mailed card when a more personal touch is warranted. In the end, the choice comes down to image. A company focused on savings and environmental concerns will opt for an e-card. A company viewing the card as part of it’s marketing strategy, where being seen and appreciated repeatedly is important, will opt for a mailed card.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
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Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
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