?The holiday season is in full swing, and along with eggnog, packed shopping malls and cold weather, this time of year brings with it a valuable marketing opportunity. Make the right move and you’ll end the year on a favorable note; make a marketing blunder and you could end up on the naughty list. This holiday season, we’ve compiled a short list of Do?s and Don’ts for business-to-business marketers.

?DO

?Send a tasteful, sincere holiday card

Avoid the trite and clich?! This is not the time to promote your product, brag about your business success over the past year or capitalize on ?holiday shopping? themes. This is the time to make your business as human as possible and let your customers know that you genuinely appreciate their business. Keep well-wishes short, sincere and tasteful, and resist the urge to self-promote.

 

?Send a thoughtful token of appreciation, not junk.Don’t send clients a cute tchotchke ?gift. The holidays tend to add clutter to all of our homes – there’s no need to clutter your clients? desks as well. Think along the lines of an Amazon gift card for your key accounts or a $5 Starbucks card as a simple ?thank you. Better yet: how about a discounted admission to an event you’re hosting next year, or 10% off the next order?

 

?Plan and prepare for early 2012

As the year winds down and incoming leads slow to a trickle, marketers may find that they have a little extra time on their hands (for once!). Don’t sit back on your laurels just yet: use this time to get a jump start on the New Year. Start putting some materials together so you can kick off the quarter with a strong campaign strategy and keep your business relevant and foremost in prospects? minds. While other marketers are still catching up on their email and getting back into the swing of things, you’ll have an important edge on your competition. That being said, you may want to wait a few days after New Year?s to send new campaigns. Allow customers and prospects to get caught up and avoid your email getting lost in the holiday clutter of messages.

 

?Stay engaged on social media

Chances are, your prospects and clients are still active on social media even when they’re not in the office. So don’t go MIA over the holidays; plan ahead of time and schedule tweets and social posts to go out when you’re not around. Also consider using any extra time on building up your social networks. Try a new term search on Twitter– you could end up tapping into a knowledge base that will generate fresh ideas in the coming year.

DON?T

?Send a lot of email during late December

Best case scenario, your customer or potential prospect ignores these emails. Worst

case, he or she finds them extremely annoying. At the end of December, business is not the foremost thing on your prospects? and clients? minds. And after several days of enjoying time off with their families, the last thing they want to see when they sit down at their desks is 10 emails from you. So don’t inundate prospects and clients with a bunch of emails that won?t get read, and consider pausing nurturing campaigns during the most hectic weeks of the holiday season.

 

?Be holiday-specific

Remember that your prospects and clients celebrate different holidays– or none at all. The last thing you want to do is leave someone out and risk alienating them. Stay on the safe side and center holiday well-wishes around more universal messages: enjoying time with family, taking a well-deserved break and preparing for the New Year.

 

?Tweet off-color tidbits from the holiday party

Yes, social media is a great way to show off what a fun, energetic company culture you have– as long as you don’t sacrifice professionalism in the process. Keep in mind the way your social posts will look in the harsh daylight of Monday morning. Tweeting a picture of your CEO in a Santa Clause costume? Sure. Tweeting a picture of your senior-level management dancing on a table, drink in hand — not so much.

 

The holidays provide an excellent opportunity to give your business a more personable feel. So rein in the hard-sell, demonstrate your sincere appreciation for your customers and spread some holiday cheer.