Printed Versus Electronic Holiday Cards?

Nov 13th, 2013 | Law Firm Marketing, Legal Marketing in Brief

This fall a number of our clients were debating whether to produce an electronic holiday card or a printed card sent by mail.

They asked us what works best, but we couldn’t find any definitive research.  So we took an online poll.

The result: 62 percent of the 140 lawyers and law firm professionals we surveyed said they preferred receiving printed holidays cards.  That’s right, PRINTED.  Only 10 percent said they would prefer to receive an e-card, and 28 percent reported it didn’t matter what kind of card was sent.  We got responses from corporate, transactional, defense, family law and plaintiffs attorneys who work in local, regional and national firms.

We then asked, if sending a printed holiday card, whether the lawyer should personally sign it.  We weren’t surprised that 79 percent said yes.

So we wondered, if receiving a printed holiday card, is the impression made on the recipient better if it was personally signed and included a brief personal message– 81 percent responded yes.

The last question in our poll was if the lawyer had ever taken mental note when they realized a lawyer or professional with whom they have a referral relationship does not send any sort of holiday card or gift.  Yes was the answer given by 28 percent.   Do you want to have nearly one third of those lawyers from whom you receive referrals take mental note that you did not send them anything at the holidays?  If think not.

You may be saying to yourself, yes but those responding to the survey are just older attorneys, technical knobs who like printed materials and dislike all things digital.  Wrong.

We analyzed the responses by years in practice.   Lawyers of all ages prefer printed holiday cards over e-cards. In our poll, 63 percent of those who said they preferred receiving printed holiday cards had been in practice 1-10 years, 60 percent were in practice 11-19 years and 66 percent had been practicing 20+ years.  Age is just a number on this issue.

Law Firm Holidays Cards: Mistakes and Best Practices

Last year, I received three Thanksgiving cards from three different firms.  One was a custom design that made an extremely positive impression, the other two were the SAME stock card.

In a prior article of mine published by the ABA, I addressed best practices to ensure that holiday cards contribute to lawyer personal business development and explained where they fit into a law firm marketing plan.  The cards I describe above had other issues I have not previously addressed.

First, you don’t want to convey that you treat clients in a cookie-cutter fashion.  You run the risk of this when buying an unimaginative standard holiday card from a stock printer with a time-worn greeting.

Second, skip the mass signing gig absent at least one signatory writing something personal to the recipient.  One of the cards I received was signed by seven people, none of whom I recognize.  It has the firm’s name on it.  I looked it up on the Internet and do not recognize the firm.  Bad mailing list!

What made one of the cards really good?  It had pictures of firm members as they worked on various pro bono and charity projects over the past year.  On the back, it explained each event and the non-profit’s mission.  Classy.  These people think about what they are doing, they prepare.  Perfect messaging for how they’d handle or do handle my legal matters.  I read the event summaries, spent five minutes with the card and felt more positive about the firm than I did before.  (I liked the card so much I wrote all of that down about it so I could write about it this year.)

Other holiday greeting card approaches that work year after year. One of our clients has custom cards printed with a holiday scene painted by one of its lawyers. Another shows art created commissioned by the firm which is then donated to a non-profit to be sold to raise funds. Group pictures of your firm’s lawyers (in a big firm of a practice group) also result in emails from clients. People like pictures.

Getting Multiple Lawyers to Sign a Single Holiday Card

As you know, getting your attorneys to sign and include a personal note to the recipient of every holiday card (a best practice we recommend) is exceedingly difficult.  Getting multiple signatures on cards sent to those who work regularly with more than one attorney in your firm, which we also urge, can prove even harder.

We have an answer that has been employed by several of our clients and confirmed as effective by other marketers, a Holiday Card Signing Party.

Here are some points to consider when you do this.

  1. Schedule a couple of specific times when attorneys can come in to sign.  Most firms do it at lunch, say, between 11:30 and 1:30.
  2. Decorate the room a little, just to make it somewhat festive.
  3. Have some seasonal music playing.  Otherwise, the room will be silent and somber, and you don’t want that!
  4. Feed them.  It’s amazing how motivated some people are by adult beverages (afternoon events only, of course) and light snacks.
  5. Prepare, prepare, prepare.  Group the cards in advance by signer.  In pencil, write the initials of each signer in the postage stamp area or on a sticky note.  As the attorney signs, have him or her erase their initials.

Inevitably, you will have to route the cards around to pick up the stragglers, but mostly firms report their attorneys are cooperative and respectful of the effort and process.

Happy Holidays.

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