I love the holidays, but two things really baffle me at this time of year: Fruitcake and holiday greeting cards. These are two time-honored traditions that I believe do more harm than good.

Now, there is very little I can about fruitcake, as I can't change the fact that it is NOT fruit nor that it will shave years from your life if consumed. I do, however, feel there is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to sending holiday greeting cards.

Like most businesses, Wild Creations receives numerous holiday greeting cards each year from our business partners. While nice, most are impersonal, thoughtless, and even down right politically incorrect. Because they are often so generic, most end up with the rest of the solicitations and lost in obscurity. I can't help but marvel at the colossal waste of resources and missed opportunities each year.

So, why do so many businesses miss the mark?

Although holiday greeting cards are meant to be selfless expressions of gratitude during the season of giving, let's address it for what it is: marketing. If you want to maximize the effectiveness of your holiday greetings this year, follow a few tips we apply in order to get noticed and secure prime real estate on the lobby wall:

1. Product

The greeting is a reflection of you and your company. Don't opt for pre-printed greetings with generic words of inspiration. Instead, personalize them. Make them entertaining, unique and a little wild, and they will be noticed. Include your company name and logo, and make the message relevant to your business relationship. And while it goes without saying, stay holiday and religion neutral. In fact, stick with a simple "Thank You" that acknowledges your gratitude at the end of the year for a fruitful business relationship.

2. Packaging

Let's face it, you are competing against hundreds of other greetings for attention. Why not go a little wild with the "package" to make it stand out. Something as simple as a brightly colored envelope will stand out against other correspondences. Also, show a little extra effort and add a stamp in lieu of using a postal meter. I notice this extra effort.

3. Placement

While you may wish to send a greeting to everyone in your address book, it may not be prudent. Instead, focus on the business partners who are most important to your business. This is also a great time to reach out to prospective business partners. And, while you may not be able to offer a personalize message in every card, make the effort to do so with your most valuable partners. A hand written message is always appreciated and worth the hand cramps.

4. Price

Since price doesn't apply to holiday greeting cards in the strict marketing sense, here is a bonus "P": Performance.

Make your greeting count. Since this is the season of giving, give them something to show your appreciation. Make it pertinent to your business, however, such as a discount for a future purchase or a free consultation. Find a way to repurpose the card by adding a coupon on the back, adding a QR code, or providing a link to a web page. These efforts will get your greeting noticed and, more important, offer a return on your investment.

Yes, I applied an elementary business marketing template, the "Marketing 4 P's" (with one bonus "P" at no charge) to holiday greeting cards. I'm surprised more businesses do not. Like any marketing strategy, without proper thought and planning, your effort to show your appreciation will likely go unnoticed. In order to avoid this, give your greetings a little extra thought and effort. Let's just hope your business partners don't return the sentiment in the form of a fruitcake.