Holiday cards can be 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 before you take on that task (which always seems to take longer than you think it will), consider what your main goal is with sending these greetings.
If you’re sending pre-printed, auto-addressed, remotely mailed cards, you may be accomplishing the opposite of what you intend, especially if it's the only time all year that you reach out to some of the people on your list. As one commenter noted when I wrote a post about this issue in 2010 on Lawyerist, “Your motivations are more transparent than they seem;” these efforts can feel blatantly self-promotional, or can make recipients feel that they are just another name on a list or in a database. At worst, clients and referral sources who don’t hear from you all year and then receive an impersonal holiday card will be turned off or have negative feelings towards you for not taking the time to do something more personal. At best, your card will be tossed and forgotten.
Think you’re being “innovative” sending an e-card? Many recipients won’t even open them for fear that the cards contain malware. Others will take your holiday e-card as a sign that you are cutting costs to the bone and can no longer afford to send actual cards. Sending an e-card can send an even stronger impersonal message than pre-printed cards, since they are so easy to send; it’s easy for people to assume that you’ve mass emailed everyone on your contact list, regardless of your relationship with them.
Instead of giving clients a “warm, fuzzy” feeling, these types of holiday greetings can seem like a transparent effort to reach out – not with genuine holiday wishes, but with the sole goal of reminding them that you’re out there and that you want their business.
If you’re going to send holiday cards, do it to thank clients and referral sources for their business or to genuinely wish them greetings of the season in a personalized way, if not with a hand-written note (although that's recommended), then at least with a customized typed message and a real signature.
If you are truly just looking for business, why not be transparent about it instead of trying to hide it? Send clients, potential clients or referral sources something that will be of value to them and let them know you would like their business and how you can help them.
You might want to recognize your gratitude for clients on other holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, the client’s birthday or anniversary of their business, the anniversary of the founding of your law practice, or the anniversary of your admission to the Bar. If you want to acknowledge the festive season by reaching out to your clients, make your greetings stand out from the crowd by sending something creative and memorable – how about a plantable card if you’re an environmental lawyer, or a card that doubles as a coaster for a liquor lawyer?
Of course, you might consider sending something that isn’t a card at all. But please, if you’re sending a “corporate gift” at the holidays this year, think carefully before sending something with your logo on it. If you want to include a logo on a ‘gift,’ the holidays might not be the best time to do it – unless you’re sending something with the client’s name or logo on it. Who wants stuff with your logo hanging around, anyway - especially if it's seen as a blatant self-promotion, rather than a genuine holiday greeting?
I’d love to hear what you’re doing for your clients for the holidays this year – the more creative, the better. Are you sending cards? What kind? If not, are you sending an alternative? Let me know in the comments!