Life’s pace is ratcheted up a notch during the fourth quarter. Drivers appear more aggressive, shoppers more frenzied, children more rambunctious, parents more frazzled, employees more restless, and managers more cantankerous. But for many attorneys, the office can be a little quiet this time of year.
Are you using the holiday season effectively for your legal marketing?
The holidays offer a unique opportunity to reinforce your relationship with your previous and existing clients. Mailing holiday cards to your past and present legal clients is a wise investment of the time and money you have left in your marketing budget. The key to strengthening your bond is personalization. Sending out this year’s cleverest estate planning holiday card with your firm’s name (or even its logo) printed on it is not sufficient. Elves drafting up wills, Santa’s “estate planning” naughty and nice list, a giant red gift bag full of 410Ks and retirement plans… cards like these might be cute, but they are not going to cement your relationship with your valued clients. Especially if they are not personalized.
How many generic holiday cards do you receive from friends and family? Not many, I suspect. With all of the tools available to produce customized holiday cards, very few people send out mass-produced mailings unless they also include a letter and some family photos inside the card.
Enhance your reputation and relationships at the same time
‘Tis the season for even more personalization than what you strive for throughout the year. It’s your opportunity to give thanks, express gratitude and grow an ongoing rapport that will help you through the stress of busy season and beyond. Take the time to customize and truly personalize your holiday cards for the greatest impact and return on investment. Remember, this is not a huge investment. Don’t be cheap. Choose (or create) a high quality holiday card and personalize it. A quality card subliminally suggests that your law practice is prosperous. The personalization of the card enhances the value even more.
Here are 3 tips for how you can maximize your holiday card marketing and client-relationship-building efforts this season:
1. Use photos of yourself, your partners, key team members or your entire staff
Rather than buying 5,000 politically-correct holiday greeting cards, customize your holiday cards with photos of your people. You don’t have to spend a fortune on a photographer or shut down your firm for an all-day photo shoot (although you can certainly get a lot of marketing mileage out of one all-day professional shoot, especially if your team brings several wardrobe changes, that you can use in your marketing messages throughout the year). Take both group and individual photos. Candid photos taken by an amateur photographer or hobbyist on your team are often the most compelling photos, rather than stiff, posed pictures of 3 guys in suits. You can repurpose the images in your printed holiday card, email holiday greeting, social media posts, and – if you’re feeling really festive – a holiday video.
2. Host a signing party at the office
Particularly if you have a certain segment of clients who have relationships with multiple team members at your firm, get everyone on board the personalization train. Make it easy (and fun) for everyone to participate. Cater an early morning breakfast spread (complete with mimosas and Bloody Marys, if possible), extended Friday afternoon lunch or early evening cocktail party at the office when it’s time to get the partners and other key team members to sign their holiday cards (assuming you supplement your e-cards with print holiday cards, at least for some of your most valuable contacts). Turn the event into a party. Ask your team members to dress in specific holiday colors, wear reindeer antlers and big red (clown) noses, or host an “ugly holiday sweater” contest. Alternatively, dress up in formal wear. Show off your personality and make your people the focus of your holiday message.
Once you have all the cards signed by each member of your team, split the cards up by key contact person and have them take their stack with them for additional personalization.
3. Write a brief, but personal note to each client
Simply signing your name won’t cut it. Take a stack of cards and your client list with you everywhere you go. Everywhere. While time is fleeting (and valuable), especially this time of year, you can find a spare moment here and there as long as you have your cards with you. Write a brief note that is specifically pertinent to your client. Give your best wishes to your clients’ spouses and kids, rave about their latest golf score, or share an anecdote from a discussion earlier in the year. You might be surprised at how easy it can be – assuming you know your clients as well as you think you do – to jot down two or three simple, personalized sentences while watching TV with your family, waiting for a prescription to be filled, or sitting at a railroad crossing. This kind of personalization can do wonders for your relationship with your clients.
If you (or your partners) can’t make the time to sign the cards personally, don’t send them. Nothing says “I deeply value our relationship and your business” like a generic, unsigned card with the firm’s name foil-stamped on them. Pixelated images of your partners’ signatures are not any better.
It is unlikely that you will be fired for sending a generic greeting card to a particular client. But consider the benefits that a truly personalized card could present, such as a referral to a friend or additional services with you. Fortify how much you care about your clients with personalization and they are likely to return the favor through new or more business. Don’t be afraid to express your unique personality in your notes, either. Who you are as a person is an important factor in your relationships with your clients.
Fun holiday marketing examples from other law firms
Here are some great examples of law firm holiday messaging for you to be inspired by:
- Using the critically-acclaimed television show Breaking Bad as a theme, Grodsky & Olecki created a hilarious two-fer holiday card: first, they summarized what was noteworthy in 2013 (including Justin Bieber), then inserted a photo of themselves dressed up as key characters from the show. The printed greeting on the inside of their card also referenced Breaking Bad for an extra laugh. Assuming they personalized the cards before mailing them out, this is an excellent example of infusing personality and that personal touch into a holiday card without even using a “holiday” theme.
- Manatt, Phelps & Phillips creatively used images from social media accounts and inserted one of their team members into each picture for that extra personal touch and a little bit of a holiday giggle. Not only is the social media aspect timely and topical, but each photo is personal, showing life events that are likely to be relevant to estate planning clients: vacations, weddings, barbeques, special events, healthy goals and activities, and spending time with family and friends.
- Fenwick & West created a clever holiday video that spans most holidays using a Lite-Brite. It allows the viewer to reminisce about holidays past (at least for those of us who remember Lite-Brites). It’s cute and fun and reminds us of our childhoods.
- The law firm of Crowell & Moring LLP created this engaging holiday video e-card using fun photos of its own employees a few years ago. The video is even more personal by including an interactive element: it asks guests to vote for the ugliest sweater. For each vote, a charitable donation was made. What could be more festive and fabulous and in the spirit of the holidays than that? (The firm also sent out signed cards with personalized notes.)
- In 2012, the Van Winkle Law Firm created a brilliant holiday campaign, comprised of a fun holiday video and a related pop-up printed card (which you can see at the end of the video). Neither the video nor the print card required a significant amount of the firm’s time for development as the photographs used could have been taken at any time (think about that one-day photo shoot and how many great images you can get from just one day of photography).
- The Law Office of David Watters produces military-themed holiday cards each year (and, of course, personalizes them when they are sent out). This is another example of how you can stray away from the “traditional holiday themes” and still have an impact during the holiday season.
‘Tis the season for that personal touch
Remember, business is all about relationships. While you use the holiday theme to market to prospects, don’t forget about your existing clients and how valuable their ongoing patronage is. Let them know that you appreciate them through honest and sincere personalization. It may take a bit more of your time, but it will pay greater dividends in the end.
Happy holiday marketing!
Becca Fieler is an Online Marketing Specialist for the BizActions | PDI Global brands from Thomson Reuters. She provides strategic planning and oversight for our online and email marketing initiatives. Becca also helps clients develop comprehensive marketing and lead generation programs. She is a prolific writer when she has time.
Academy Guest Blogger
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555