It’s getting to be that dreaded time of year. If you send holiday cards, that is.
Don’t send something that’s easy to toss
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.
Here are some proven ideas for getting more cases
Send at Thanksgiving or Spring. No one expects a card then, and they are more likely to open and appreciate the sentiment.
Regardless of the November, December or February/March/April card:
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 have different types of clients, get more than one kind of card!
- Photo of a courtroom decked out for the holidays
- A cartoon about an expert witness. On of my favorites: “It’s all fun and games until you receive a summons.”
- A non-holiday message in holiday colors. 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 2021.”
(3) Unexpected Design: 3D Cards / Pop up / laser cut.
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 then you know it’s ubiquitous.
Avoid holiday trees, Santa, Joy to the World, pictures of Earth, and tread on snow lightly.
Visit your local paper store, or Etsy.com (handmade items.) Even Amazon has unique cards…I am not endorsing anyone. But look around for something you’d like on your mantle.
By picking an image unlike anyone else, by exclusion you stand out.
Go another direction entirely
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.
Different Advice for Attorneys
Attorneys may actually benefit from a larger mailing.
I was reminded of that by an estate planning attorney 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.
Keep your design unique whomever you are!
One year I oversaw 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 (necessary–see above!) 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.
Her time probably paid for the trouble, but the hassle factor might change the “time=money=return on investment” calculation. Maybe 300 was overkill?
You send a card and get no acknowledgment
There’s value in reminding clients of your existence.
“Rekindling recognition” can be assessed in the short term. Take note if you get a call from the recipient soon after you send the card.
What if there’s no acknowledgment in the short term? What do you do if the call comes in many months later? Is there a way to know if the holiday card made a difference and if you should include them on next year’s list?
Yes. Keep track.
Here’s what I do. I keep a list of recipients. I use Outlook Contacts and make a note when I sent the card. I make another note if the potential client responded in some way–and the date. You can do this on a spreadsheet or a yellow pad. Just keep track, so next year is easier.
I can look that up the moment I get a call–even if it’s 8 months later.
Think again about your clients and the cards they send—what is the impact on you?
However, you choose to put a value on the 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.
I love this 3D card from the Museum of Modern Art Holiday Star
Etsy small and cottage industry businesses produce unique cards that leave an impression. This is a fun one from Cultural Bindings Cards