This is one of my favorite times of year, due, mainly, to the proliferation of Christmas letters in my mailbox, those executive summaries of the yearly goings-on of friends, acquaintances, and the odd ex-girlfriend. I love reading about how Timmy hit a double during his T-ball game in July and how the Robinsons added on a new room to the house which they intend to use for hosting whist tournaments on the weekends. I enjoy the occasionally fruitcake recipe and don’t even mind hearing about how Uncle Rob got his gallstones removed (though the less detail, the better, as far as I’m concerned).
And while it’s interesting, and often amusing, to read through the Christmas letter of someone I know personally, professionally, it’s a real drag.
Take, for example, a PR firm which I used to do business with. Great firm. Wonderful account execs, bright and eager, and results-oriented. But when they recently celebrated their 15th anniversary, I received in my inbox, a 2,500 word trip down memory lane. Even if I did care about their history (which I don’t), and even if their pride in their achievement meant something to me (which it doesn’t), I still read the tome with Scrooge’s eye wondering if anywhere in the five-page document, there was something in it for me?
Alas, I received the email equivalent of a lump of coal. Not only was there no offer, no gesture, no gift, but there was no mention of me. Not me personally but the word “you” only appeared once in the whole essay. And that was at the end, where they must have been aware of how much they had been gushing on about themselves, because they at least thanked me for reading all the way to the bottom:
Tip: If you have to thank your reader for reading what you wrote, what you wrote ain’t that good.
And remember, it’s a season of giving, not taking. So don’t take up your customers' time with self-congratulatory messages and instead think of ways in which to be generous. I bet you can come up with one. I mean, aside from a fruitcake.