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Holidays can help to build bonds

Published December 17, 2006


This year, the holiday celebration for Carolyn Izzo-Feldman's employees will be at her house - they'll get a home-cooked meal prepared by the boss and her husband.

"I thought it would make it more sincere," said Izzo-Feldman, president of a Nyack, N.Y., public relations firm that bears her name. "We've done the big parties, rented the space, had live bands, invited everyone to come."

This year, "it definitely will have more of a warm feel to it."

For a small-business owner, marking the holidays with employees, clients and customers can be a great business opportunity - it can inspire workers to do better, and it can create goodwill and cement relationships with staffers and with customers. And, as the saying goes, it's the thought that counts; a celebration or a gift doesn't have to be expensive to evoke positive, upbeat feelings, but it should reflect some care and effort.

To that end, many small businesses like Izzo-Feldman's try to do something different, and not go to the same restaurant or hold the same grab bag year after year.

Some owners are marking the holidays by giving their workers time off. JohnstonWells Public Relations in Denver will be closed between Christmas and New Year's because the company met its financial targets last year.

"It really makes people be more productive," CEO Guinavere Johnston said.

Marking the holidays with clients and customers can be a business-building opportunity. Many companies go the traditional route and send cards or mugs, but it's questionable how much that will help a small business.

Cohn Marketing, a Denver public relations company, sends gift packages to clients, but with a twist. Cohn sends packages of products from Green Beans Coffee Co., one of its clients, and includes a message that it has sent a coffee card in the client's name to a U.S. soldier overseas. Green Beans operates coffeehouses at U.S. military locations in countries including Iraq and Afghanistan.

"If we're going to buy something, I'd rather buy it from one of our existing clients," owner Jeff Cohn said, noting that the gifts help promote the client.

And, since Cohn Marketing designed the labels on the products, they help showcase what his business can do.

[Last modified December 16, 2006, 20:14:31]

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