Do you qualify for a printed card?
I have been receiving a mixture of electronic holiday cards and printed cards and it has left me thinking, What factors determine which type of card I receive?
When I make a choice between sending a card via print or electronic usually it is based on time. Do I have the time to send out the full-blown printed card or is it more important to get an acknowledgement out? Thinking that through, is that the right criteria for the choice? What determines the right medium to use? Is it different for professional contacts? Clients? Employees? Friends? Relatives? Is there a chart needed to determine the right thing to do?
After conducting a number of futile Internet searches on the subject, I have come to the conclusion there is no protocol associated to this topic. There is plenty of information on the etiquette of sending printed greeting cards, including information from Emily Post & Martha Stewart. I even went so far as to ask Hallmark through its website if it has or knows of protocol for electronic cards.
Perhaps our industry should create and market the protocol, in essence, take the bull by the horns. This might be a very helpful thing when selling printed cards and mailings to clients. It is always nice to point to something official. Even add a case study that accompanies it. Bottom line is that when someone does a search for the appropriate etiquette on the Internet, the printing industry’s definition should be the first result. It should be an honest and useful tool.
I didn’t give up on the search with Hallmark. My next step was to seek answers using LinkedIn. Luckily there were a number of threads around the subject and I was quickly able to ascertain that while no one had a definitive rule, most people preferred printed cards vs. electronic cards.
So, left to my own devices (always a dangerous thing), I am left with sharing my opinion. Perhaps it will help start the discussion that leads to the formalization of the etiquette.
I believe a printed card with a handwritten signature is by far the best card to receive. There is nothing more personal and real than a card delivered in this manner. I would consider it mandatory for your family members on important holidays, but also for your key clients. I would even be happy with printed cards with signatures handwritten, yet either imprinted or part of the printing of the card.
In regards to electronic cards...These are best used for distant relatives, FaceBook and social media connections, and impersonal email marketing. I've tried sending them out a few times during the holidays or on birthdays and felt cheap and dirty inside. Imagine sending a holiday card of the kids in an email. The whole purpose is to share in the holiday spirit and give a nice picture of your children to family and friends for them to hang on the wall or fridge.
There are times when timing is an issue and it is more important to have the card be to the recipient on time instead of late. This is a case-by-case situation and the urgency and decision is best left to you and your organization.
If you have links to or information in regards to this subject please share.