December 07, 2016
The holidays are upon us, our inboxes are filled with promotions, sales and plenty of deals, deals, deals! And our physical mailboxes? Well those are filled too, and once you sift through the mailers and catalogues, you'll probably find a few holiday cards or even the holiday letters. Yes, we all know them and yes, we may in fact be guilty of sending them in years past.
While you may groan when you get the annual letter from that one 'perfect' family, you may also be heartened to get the letter from a friend or acquaintance you haven't kept in touch with well over the year and see how well they're doing. It's an impetus to get in touch with them, check in on their profile on Facebook or even find some time to call them while they're on your mind. And that, is the power of a personal update.
We're not advocating for you to start sending a year-end recap letter to all your clients and your business network, but we are going to make some strong arguments as to why you should implement some of the core ideas of the personal update into your marketing, at the end of the year...and all year round.
First, let's look at the actual structure of these holiday/end-of-year letters to get an idea of the different components that go into it. If we break it down, there are definitely a few important aspects of these letters that make them what they are and not only that, make them great for serving as inspiration for your 'personal' business updates.
Here we get a little bit of background - it's been a great year and we're feeling so blessed to have spent it together or with you, our friends. We're forced to remember why the letter's being sent, and if it's coming from the far reaches of our network, it may serve as a great way to jog your memory because...who remembers everyone's kids names?
It's a great lesson in not assuming a thing about your audience or your network that you may be reaching out to. We'd all like to think we're memorable and that our business interaction from earlier in the year sticks out in the minds of everyone involved, but we all know that's not exactly the case. Instead, take a cue from our letter introduction and always give your network a little background.
Whether you're writing an end of year email or sending a quick LinkedIn update, a gentle reminder of who you are or what your business does will be welcome in the long run. Without it, they're more likely to pass you by or not pay attention if they can't remember what it is you do, a little reminder couldn't hurt!
Isn't this the most important part? The infamous matching outfit family photos, the school pictures, or the pictures from various important events throughout the year, it's rare you receive a holiday letter without some photos. And while they may serve as fodder for your next giggle as you check out the family in their matching overalls, it certainly makes it memorable for a long time to come.
When we hear information, we're likely to remember only about 10% of what we heard three days later. But when a visual is paired with that information, the liklihood of our remembering that information goes up to 65%. It certainly explains why we so often remember those bad photos with Santa each year until the card arrives the next year in our mail. And it's certainly a great reason why you should be including visuals in your marketing or sending a quick update to your network.
Use photos or imagery as a way to catch your network's eye, whether it's a goofy group shot of your office at the holiday party, or maybe it's your office dogs, an update with some imagery is far more likely to catch the eye of your network and furthermore keep their attention and remember what you had to say to them.
Those emails with an image are far more appealing than a text only email and the Facebook update from your business' page might get overlooked as people scroll through their timeline if you don't include a graphic or an image with it. Check out websites that offer free images that you can utilize in your posts - like we do with our blog header images - and try it out in your next blog, social media post, or even email blast. Because who remembers the holiday card that comes in the mail with no image?
Last but certainly not least, the personal details that make the update what it is! While we know the holiday letters are often filled with details on the kids' activities, what schools they got into, or updates on retirement life or big events, these ideas can be carried over into your own business updates.
While your clients may not need the full rundown on your family's details from the past year, sharing some personal anecdotes here and there with your network makes you memorable and relatable in the best ways. Check out Fredrik's Instagram below, he's a top NYC real estate agent and while he shares plenty of real estate listings and professional pictures on the platform, he often shares personal too....including pictures and videos of his adorable pups.
Do you follow gurus in your industry on social media? More often than not, they share some details from their personal life every once and a while, and doesn't it help to make you feel like they could be your friend? That's the power of some personal details. We're not made up of business entirely, we all have different facets to our lives and sharing the different facets in your life - within reason - is one of the best ways to foster a relationship with your clients and business network.
Are you now wondering what exactly an update could look like for you and your business strategy beyond an email or letter? While those are two great forms of an update to your network, you certainly shouldn't limit yourself to these longer forms of communication. Your update can come in the form of a social media update on your business' page or even a personal message to one of your clients or relationships if you're connected on social media. If you want to get really personal, you can send a good ol' fashioned card in the mail or even connect with them and send a shorter 1:1 email, rather than a newsletter.
The idea here is to break up the monotony of all business all the time, but just because you know that you're more than that, you still want to make sure your network and clients do too! Maintain the balance of professional and personal, and keep in mind our three important aspects of the personal update letter. For bonus points, take note of the best letters and cards you get this holiday season and see if you can utilize any of the most memorable strategies into your next update.
Hearing from your clients, your business acquaintances or professionals in your network around the holidays can be meaningful but implementing these aspects of the personal letter all year round can make your business relationships all the more fruitful.