Does “Merry Christmas!” REALLY matter?

A great deal has been made about whether to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” It’s become a political debate, whipped by agendas that probably don’t include ways to make your business grow.

Words matter, as do business objectives. This being a marketing column, I won’t debate politics or religion. From my perspective it’s more important to focus on developing next year’s marketing plan and how seasonal customer felicitations can potentially impact your bottom line.

And, though not Christian, I’m not offended when someone says “Merry Christmas.” But some folks are.

There are roughly 4,300 religions in the world today. 73% of Americans follow Christianity, meaning odds are pretty good followers of other beliefs also buy from you.

After completing a sale, you’ll probably care less whether your clientele are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or Atheist than how much of their money you acquired.

Furthermore, over the next 10 weeks there will occur dozens of holidays affecting multiple religions and cultures. Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, EID, Chinese New Year, American Indian Heritage Day, Orthodox New Year, Diwali…all these (and more) come between November and January.

Which suggests that universally saying “Merry Christmas” may be needlessly self-limiting.

Maintaining good customer relationships can be tricky things. People are attracted or repelled by your offerings, pricing, location, service, and personality.

The idea of wishing people a Happy/Merry Something is to encourage warm feelings, rather than converting them to your way of thinking.

Presuming your objective is to expand your customer base, injecting into your daily interactions a seasonal greeting with religious overtones risks being as offensive as trumpeting your political beliefs.

Furthermore, assuming diversity in your customer base, a generic “Happy Holidays” is probably more conducive to encouraging future business from those with different views.

Businesses strategizing for future growth are usually looking to build long-term relationships, and wishing your customers well this time of year is a good place to start. However, insisting on only recognizing this as the Christmas season is potentially insulting, and may de-motivate your clientele from buying from you in the future.

Naturally, it’s always better to personalize a message when possible. If you know someone celebrates Christmas, wish her a “Merry Christmas!”

But if you don’t know, don’t assume…it may be seen as rigid, dogmatic, and counter-productive.

With that said, I wish you a Happy Holiday Season.
You won’t be offended visiting