Now that Thanksgiving is over, millions of individuals are preparing for one of three deeply demotivating projects:
1) Assembling a huge pile of generic-but-trying-not-to-appear-generic holiday cards, assembling a matching pile of envelopes, and then stamping each envelope and mailing each card to a large list of personal and professional contacts.
2) Finalizing a database of personal professional contacts, and then using e-mail and/or social media channels to launch a slew of generic-but-trying-not-to-appear-generic virtual holiday cards to all of those people.
3) Some combination of 1 and 2.
This year, it hit me. I simply didn't have the time, inclination, or energy to wrangle another 300 or so cards, signatures, and stamps. Nor did I want to send the message of impersonal, mass-delivered inauthenticity that I always feel whenever someone sends me a virtual holiday card. I certainly didn't want to combine the two. So I started thinking: Could there be a fourth option?
Thanks to the pervasiveness and ease of modern video technology, there is.
Option Four, as I like to call it, is definitely a game-changer. This new plan entails—wait for it—skipping all generic, fill-in-the blank forms of holiday correspondence, regardless of whether they are delivered via snail-mail or digital means; ruthlessly purging my contact list from an overblown 300-plus addresses down to the (gasp!) 20 or so most important business relationships on my list; and then creating customized, highly personalized video messages for each of the people on that list. I will be sharing these videos by means of YouTube's nifty "unlisted " video option. I can simply upload the video to YouTube and then send the intended recipient a link to click on. These unlisted videos don't show up in YouTube's public search results; as a practical matter, the only way to access the video in question is to get the link via an email message.
Here's a video I made specifically to go with this post and an example of the kind of thing you could do:
I'll be making these twenty unique videos for my twenty best clients using the webcam and software that's built into my Mac. Total estimated time investment: two person-days. Compare that to the four or more person-days that always went into the Big Holiday Business Mailing, and you see the benefit of this approach. I'm quite confident that, in terms of impact, receiving a unique, personalized video message from me will easily stand head and shoulders above the typical boring, impersonal scrawl at the bottom of the holiday card. And as for those creepily unsentimental e-messages ... I never sent them, but I know the videos I'll be making will carry significantly more impact than any cheesy e-greeting ever could.
I'll keep you posted on the responses generated by my new holiday tradition. Stay tuned.
Ruth Sherman Associates LLC / High-Stakes Presentation Skills Coaching, Consulting & Media Training for CEOs, Celebrities & Politicians / Greenwich, CT