Any time is the right time of year to send a card
Christmas and Hanukkah aren’t the only time to send a greeting card to a client, but it is the most common. A holiday, a season, the New Year, a message of thanks–are all good reasons to send a client or potential client a card.
If you’re reading this in December, it’s not too late to send a New Year’s card. It is a time attorneys take stock of their caseload and trial calendar. This is the best time to be on their mind.
A greeting that captures the imagination and inspires a call
Whatever time of year you choose to send a card, don’t send something that’s easy to toss.
Consider your own in-box (real and digital). How many cards do you get? What do you keep and what do you delete?
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.
Proven card ideas for getting more cases
Novel and Necessary
(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! I will address both traditional December cards and less traditional cards at another time of year. For example,
- 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 regardless of the time of year. Thank your existing clients or just reach out to past and future clients.
(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 a stamp.
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 [2023[  [summer] [whatever shoe fits -Ed].”
(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.
3D cards aren’t cheap but if you keep your mailing list small, ROI is well worth the cost. A single 3D card costs about $13/each. 100 preprinted cards can easily cost over $100 and then you have to address 100 envelopes, yadda, yadda.
Keep your mailing list small and thought-out and soon that $13/each investment, plus your time, is less onerous and more profitable.
If 3D isn’t in your budget, choose an image that is completely unlike everything else you see…avoid trite like these Christmas standards: holiday trees, Santa, Joy to the World, pictures of “Plant Earth,” and tread on snow lightly (pun intended).
If a greeting card company offers it then you know it’s ubiquitous. I talk about paper stores like Papyrus and Etsy below for something more personal.
(4) Paper, color and texture alternatives
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. A few specific examples are given below if you need to see before you buy.
By picking an image unlike anyone else, by exclusion you stand out.
(5) Unexpected options really put you in a unique position: send at Thanksgiving or Spring. No one expects a card then, and they are more likely to open and appreciate the sentiment. Spring is also a common time for expert witnesses to be retained as Discovery is just starting for cases that began in January–when business picks up for attorneys.
(6) Optional: Skip cards altogether and put the money in a different marketing direction.
If you’re an attorney
The focus of this site is for medical-legal expert witnesses BUT attorneys do read this article from time to time and I have different advice for them:
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 at Christmas and Hanukkah. She received many in return with a personal message from her client, cementing the relationship from both directions. December was a better choice for her because her older clientele looked for her card at that time of year.
A different client base might call for a different approach.
Spending your time and money wisely
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 even if they never let you know they got the card.
“Rekindling recognition” has value for the future.
A response, by the way, can include receiving a card from the attorney.
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?
Keep track of results
I keep a list of everyone to whom I sent a card. I use Outlook Contacts, but a spreadsheet or note on a yellow pad works. I always make a note of the date I sent the card so I can track it to any response. I make another note if the potential client responded in some way–and that date. Because I use Outlook Contacts I can create fields that help me generate a mailing list for the next year. Whatever your method, keep track, so next year is easier.
As a marketing tool, my tracking method is helpful the moment I get a call–even if it’s 8 months later.
What works for you?
Think about your clients and colleagues and the cards they send—what is the impact on you? If you don’t like a card, or it bores you, pay attention to why. Then promise yourself to do something different.
Combat pay worked into your marketing budget
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.
Ideas I hope inspire you
The small gift that no one will forget
A legal-themed holiday gift: The Indomitable Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I’d love to get this and so will your clients.
A November card won’t have to compete with a stack of December holiday cards sitting on an attorney’s desk. Remind your clients about the meaning of Thanksgiving or acknowledge the passing of seasons. 3D Maple Tree from LovePop (no endorsements)
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. You will find this in more than one place, fyi.
Practice Development for Medical Expert Witnesses
Beryl Vaughan, Consultant
Email email@example.com or Call (415) 302-9589