It’s getting to be that dreaded time of year. If you send holiday cards, that is. As Hanukkah and Christmas loom, consider your own inbox (real and digital). How many cards do you get? What do you keep and what do you toss? I guarantee, a few standout cards, written by hand, to your best clients or your target clients will make a greater difference than hundreds of something common and impersonal.
Standing out is always a marketing goal.
Some novel options:
(1) A design consistent with the nature of your practice, including the card’s message, graphics and colors. If you don’t have a one size-fits all practice, get more than one kind of card! Photo of a courtroom decked out for the holidays, a cartoon about an expert witness, even a non-holiday message in holiday colors. One of my favorites is “It’s all fun and games until you receive a summons.” A red rubber stamp across the top that says “Happy Holidays” adds something whimsical and anchors to the holidays.
(2) A handwritten note inside is essential! I am not talking about a signature alone. A message written meaningfully, especially when the recipient is known to you already is worth a thousand preprinted cards and an envelope. For example, if you are sending to an attorney you know, reference the case you worked on. “I hope it’s been a good year for you. The Jones case was so interesting—I’m glad we got a chance to work together. Here’s to a busy 2019.”
(3) 3D Cards / Pop up. Sink your budget into cards that reveal something delightful and beautiful. As soon as the card is opened, you make an impression. If 3D isn’t in your budget, choose an image that is completely unlike everything else you see…avoid trite. If a greeting card company offers it, reconsider and visit Etsy.com (handmade items.) By picking an image unlike anyone else, by exclusion you stand out. No holiday trees, Santa, Joy to the World, pictures of Earth, and tread on snow lightly.
Go another direction entirely:
(A) Send a card at a different time of year, like Thanksgiving or the Spring (not summer, when attorneys are on vacation,)
(B) Skip holiday cards altogether and put the money in a different marketing direction.
This last is for expert witnesses, and not recommended for attorneys, whose client base is a different animal from the forensic psych. I was reminded of that by an estate planning attorney recently who had a personal relationship with many of her elderly clients and never missed sending holiday cards. She received many in return with a personal message from her client, cementing the relationship from both directions.
One year I over saw a mailing of 300 cards by a doctor. She spent at least 15 hours in order to sign each. A one- or two-line personal note on perhaps 100 cards added 5 minutes to a card, to think about her relationship with the recipient and make it meaningful. The 300 cards resulted in 2 new cases, and a few calls just to say hi. The work probably paid for the trouble. Alternatively, let’s say you get no acknowledgment. There’s value in reminding clients of your existence. In the short term, though, you must get more than the billable hours you spent, in order to break even. Because “rekindling recognition” is very difficult to quantify, think again about your clients and the cards they send—what is the impact on you? However, you value your time invested in sending cards, factor in a little combat pay for hand cramps, getting behind on other work, and general boredom.
I consult to my clients about these questions this time of year and my advice is always the same: if you’re not going to do it right, don’t do it at all.