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A lump of coal in your Christmas stocking—that's what the most recent holiday mailing you managed may have felt like.

For starters, it's the kind of project where, sooner or later, you inevitably make a mistake (e.g., wrong title, wrong address, or something else out of date). And, because of the nature of the human ego and the importance of clients/customers/referral sources, there's no such thing as a small mistake.

Plus, there's insult to add to that injury. The cards that do manage to find their way correctly to their destination are buried or otherwise forgotten in the end-of-the-year avalanche.

So, while the pain and memory are relatively fresh, let's take a look at some smarter ways to get out a holiday mailing, assuming that angst of holiday mailings is a fact of life for most businesses.

But, in the process, why not explore better ways to get favorably noticed and remembered... which is why we expose ourselves to this agony in the first place!

The Silver Lining

If nothing else good or worthwhile comes out of any mailing, it gives your company or client an excuse to clean up its database. That never-ending process probably got a recent jolt when the returns from the last major mailing you did started to come in.

But face it. Despite software that makes such grooming relatively easy, there will be errors. The only way to avoid errors completely is to have a huge back-office and uniformly super-motivated client contacts relentlessly bird-dogging every name, address, and title change.

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Doug Stern (www.doug-stern.com) is a freelance business writer and marketing strategist based in Louisville, KY. Contact him at 502-599-6624 or stern.doug@gmail.com.