Why spend money on paper cards and postage when you can send an e-card? The holidays are a perfect time to send one to the people on your list. Here are 10 ideas that will help you do more than just say, "Happy Holidays."

  1. Show your face. Include a photo of you and your staff (or you and your family, if you're a one-person shop) in your e-card. You can take a traditional photo or fun one of your employees decorating for the holidays, you with a set of antlers on your head, or of everyone with a glass of eggnog held up, saying "Cheers." A more interesting photo will get more attention.
  2. Give a little gift. Say thank you with an exclusive coupon. Ask them to print the e-card and bring it in for 20 percent off their next purchase or to receive a special gift. You know what kind of gift is valuable to your audience. Make it special and note that this offer is only for those on your e-mail list, making it truly exclusive.
  3. Spread some cheer. Thank your members by giving them something intended for forwarding. Include a family and friends discount in your e-card. An enticing offer can make your e-card go a long way and get great results. Also, you can grow your list by adding a sign-up link at the bottom of the cards.
  4. Eat, drink and be merry. Share a favorite holiday food or drink recipe. Most people have a number of parties that they attend over the holidays and many times they need to bring something. Help them be the life of the party by sending them a recipe for a dish or beverage that's guaranteed to hit a homerun. Make it quick, easy and enticing. Also include a photo if you have a good one.
  5. Ask for some love. In the spirit of giving, invite members to donate to or volunteer time to the nonprofit that you support. Do you do something special for those you serve during the holidays? Let your members know how they can get involved.
  6. Be wise. Instead of the standard holiday greeting, include an uplifting quote, saying or poem that will enrich one's soul. Look for something unique and inspiring that will resonate with your readers.
  7. Have a little fun. How about using video? It's easy to upload a video of your staff on YouTube. Record your staff singing a holiday song, saying happy holidays or, if you're creative, write a two-minute script and record a funny skit. Then, link to it from your e-card. Your members will love that you tried to do something different.
  8. Share the warmth. Include a short story and photo about a person your organization helped. What a great way to end the year and thank your donors and volunteers for their efforts by giving them an example of how they are making a difference.
  9. Give a tip. Serve up a few helpful tips that are relevant to your audience. For example, send some general holiday tips like "five ways to cope with holiday shopping" or tips that fall within your area of expertise. A financial planner may send "five easy ways to save money in 2008." Think about what would be useful to your audience. Be creative. And if that's not your forte, brainstorm with a creative friend.
  10. Be resolved. Share a resolution for the New Year. What do you want to do better, differently or more for your customers, clients or members in 2008? What have you learned from them that you plan to act on? What promise do you wish to make? Include a brief statement about it in your e-card.

Remember to keep your e-card short and simple. That's what makes it an e-card and not an e-newsletter. The holiday season gives you a unique opportunity to communicate with your members and to do it in a fun and spirited way.