Christmas is in the wings.  Suddenly, you’re looking up grandma’s eggnog recipe, receiving all sorts of junk mail on your screen and in your post box, pine cones inexplicably look like they have more decorative potential and the small trees from which they come get a little nervous.  (“Spare me!  Spare me!  Sssp-pa-a-a-a-are Me-e-e-e-e!”)

Let’s just return to the junk mail appearing abundantly at this time of year…

At the heart of this is marketing at its most in-your-face.  Companies that ignore me for 10 months of the year suddenly bombard me invitations me to spend with them.  Uhh, guys… no way!  I’ve got two ways to deal with these – recycle and delete.  If the only time they ever care about my existence is when they want something I’M NOT INTERESTED.

So consider the reverse.  With Christmas approaching, if you’ve not maintained contact with your customers throughout the year, is it a sensible marketing strategy to merely ‘remind’ them of your existence with a card or cheap present?  Doesn’t it really just serve to highlight that you haven’t been on the scene for the last 10 months?  Are your customers likely to open the card and think, “You’ve let the relationship die and now expect a picture of Santa with the elves is enough to rekindle it!?!?”

Relationships thrive on regular contact and people who only contact you when they want something are not in a relationship.  They’re in denial.

So what’s the solution if you haven’t been the best at maintaining contact?  First off – forget the online mass email or the animated card.  They reek of awkward, flimsy self-interest.  If you want to impress a business person, invite them out for coffee and give them a referral.  It’s a present they won’t forget for two reasons.

First – it demonstrates you thought of them and acted upon the thought.

Second – you’ve just given a business person business – it doesn’t get much better than that!

So get out there and find some referrals.  It’s a meaningful way to reconnect.