Holiday Cards as a Legal Marketing Tool

If you are sending holiday cards to clients, colleagues and referral sources this year, what is your purpose for doing so? I posed this question to a client of mine recently when he advised that he would be sending approximately 1000 pre-printed holiday cards and wanted to know how to get more out of this yearly tradition. He responded that he was sending the holiday cards because he wanted to receive referrals.

Should holiday cards generate business?

As I explained to my client, while the ultimate goal of marketing is to receive referrals or repeat business, that goal is not either appropriate or realistic for every individual endeavor. Sending holiday cards is a nice way to stay in touch with clients, potential clients and others during this festive season, and may serve the remind those with whom you are not regularly in contact of your continued existence, but the idea that sending holiday cards will generate referrals on their own is highly unlikely. This goes double for pre-printed, auto-addressed, remotely mailed holiday cards.

What impression does your holiday card leave with clients?

Holiday cards are about extending good wishes during a season of celebration. Sending a pre-printed and automatically addressed card can leave a poor impression; it can seem as if you are twisting this holiday tradition of spreading goodwill and making it all about getting business and making money (as if the holidays haven’t become commercial enough). Indeed, it turns holiday greetings into something that is about you, rather than about your clients.

Make clients feel special during the holidays

Marketing and business development are about relationships. People want to send you business when they perceive not only that you are good at what you do, but also that you genuinely care about them or their business. You get business when you feel that you are being treated as an individual, rather than just another file (or just another paycheck).

When a pre-printed, automated-addressed holiday card arrives in the mail, do you feel special? Do you feel that you are receiving individual attention, or do you simply feel part of a mass-mailing (which, in fact, you are)? How do you think clients and potential clients feel when receiving these kinds of cards?

If your purpose is to remain top of mind with clients and others who receive regular communication from you throughout the year, a pre-printed holiday card might be perfectly fine if it is individually signed and accompanied by a short personalized note. This shows you have taken the time and attention to consider each client as an individual.

If you truly want to stand out from the crowd, consider something entirely different for your holiday greeting. Perhaps you could offer to donate to a client’s favorite charity in honor of the holiday or send an inexpensive personalized gift. You do not need to spend a lot of money, but you should remember that holidays are not the time to put the focus on you and asking for business. Rather, they are a time to thank others for their business and give them reason to feel joy in the season.

(Photo credit: http://flic.kr/p/7my6au)

  • http://www.fultoncourt.org Don Plummer

    How true. I got several mass holiday cards today. I threw them in the trash. I got one hand addressed and signed with a short note. I put it on my bulletin board.

  • http://bunkerlawgroup.com/ Ben Bunker

    This has the same theme as the networking post earlier. Your motivations are more transparent than you may think. Give people a reason to hold onto your card, not toss it. A personal, handwritten note will mean a lot to your clients.

  • http://stcloud.injuryboard.com/ Mike Bryant

    We have seen them become good reminders to past clients as to what we do. We usually include a update letter.

  • http://constructionlawva.com Christopher G. Hill

    Great thoughts! I am a big fan of holiday cards, but only if you are willing to make them a bit more personal with at least a short handwritten note.

  • http://ethicsmaven.com/ Eric Cooperstein

    It used to be, in the old days, that a holiday card was an expensive way to “touch” a client – the idea of getting the client to think of you and hopefully refer business to you. In the old days, doing something like a firm newsletter was a much more time-consuming and expensive way to connect with former clients and referral sources.

    In the internet age, it is much easier to connect with that same constituency, whether by e-mail newsletters, websites with RSS feeds, social media, etc. Compared to all those methods, a bland card with a signature scrawled across the bottom is more likely to stand out for its lack of novelty than to be appreciated as good wishes for the new year. Ditto for electronic greeting cards, which scream “We’ve decided to cut costs but we can’t give up on the idea of sending out bland cards with signatures scrawled across the bottom.”

    Even writing a few words is much better than just a signature. At least the card is then somewhat personalized.

    I agree with Alison that being creative and doing something different is what it is all about. If you have staff to assist you (or maybe even if you don’t), try sending birthday cards. Then the recipient will know you were really thinking about them.

    • http://ethicsmaven.com/ Eric Cooperstein

      That should have been “inexpensive” in the first line of my previous comment.