4 tips for holiday greetings for your best customers.

Curated by Gregory Pings, manager, Content Marketing for Xerox.

Want to show your clients how much you appreciate their business around the holidays?

Holiday CardsMove your keyboard aside and pick up a pen and paper. (Remember those?) Sending a good old-fashioned holiday card — especially if it’s done the right way — lets clients know that the relationship you’ve been cultivating all year is an important one.

But just remember: This is still a business associate, so even if you’re golf buddies, keep it classy.

Here are some tips from Mister Manners himself, Thomas P. Farley, an etiquette expert who runs the website, www.whatmannersmost.com.

  • Too late for holiday cards? Send out a New Year’s card.

If you’re really under the gun, but still want to send a card, you can’t go wrong with a tasteful Happy New Year card.

“You’re never going to offend somebody by sending out a new year’s card —we all celebrate when that ball drops,” says Farley.

  • Send a real card, not a digital one.

Digital cards show a lack of effort and advanced planning. This is probably among the few times per year in your work life that pen and paper is the only way to go.

“If you can’t spend the extra two minutes to write out a message and hand sign it, maybe you don’t deserve the business,” says Farley. “You’ve spent all year cultivating these relationships: Don’t drop the ball at the eleventh hour when it comes to thanking them at the end of the year.”

  • Include a personalized message.

“The best greetings include brief mention of a fun memory you both shared in the year that just ended, along with a thank you for the relationship,” Farley says.

Even if your company prints out a pre-signed holiday card, you should still hand sign it with a message.

“It doesn’t have to be a letter that’s 17 paragraphs long, just an expression of gratitude or a memory to touch on from the past year.”

  • Secular cards are a safe bet.

If you have a close relationship with the client and know his or her holiday traditions, “it is entirely appropriate to say ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Chanukkah,’” Farley says.  If not, err on the side of caution, but try to avoid saying, “Seasons Greetings.” “Happy Holidays is better than Seasons Greetings, which is so bland and non-expressive.

So, dust off that old fountain pen and get to writing. Just remember, if you choose not to send one this year, it’s not the end of the world.

“It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle during the holidays with so much coming in, and some businesses say they don’t want to add to that din,” Farley says. “But if you want the gold star for going the extra mile, send the holiday card.”

(This was excerpted from an article that was published on RealBusiness.com, a website from Xerox that provides ideas and information for decision makers in business and government.)