We are posting the December newsletter of “FOCUS ON RAINMAKING from Sara Holtz, ClientFocus” because it houses some great sound advice for all lawyers. We take no credit for these thoughts. Enjoy!
If you’re planning to send holiday cards this year, read on for my best tips on how to use those cards to build stronger relationships in the new year.
A Client-Focused Approach to Holiday Cards
The December holidays can be a great time to build relationships and keep in touch with your best clients.
Unfortunately, with everything else on your to-do list at this busy time of year, it can be easy to default to sending your firm’s generic card and calling it a day.
But this isn’t the best way to build strong, personal relationships with key clients and referral sources. In fact, I’d go so far as to say if you aren’t going to personalize your cards, you should skip sending them altogether. You certainly don’t want to leave a good client with the impression that the relationship is not worth a few minutes of your time!
Make the most of the holiday cards you send, by following these tips:
1. Add a personalized, handwritten note of at least two to three sentences to each card.
By personalized, I don’t mean “Happy Holidays, Jane.” I mean something along the lines of:
I’m sure we both hope to never have to use George Smith as an expert again, but I will miss the BBQ place around the corner from the courthouse. Happy holidays to you, Belinda and the boys. Enjoy that well-deserved ski vacation!
It takes only a few minutes to add a personal message to a card, but that message goes a long way in letting the client know you value the relationship. As one of my clients told me last year when she got a new matter from a client in January, “Adding the personal touch to my holiday notes made all the difference!”
If you can’t think of something personal to write, it’s probably time for you to invest some time in building the relationship. In fact, you could make this your goal for the year ahead — to find out one piece of information about each of your key clients so that you can mention it in your holiday cards next year.
2. Whittle down your list if necessary.
If your holiday card list is so long you can’t imagine writing all those notes, it’s fine to pare it down to a manageable size. Better to send a personalized card to a dozen people than an impersonal one to a hundred. In fact, creating your mailing list for your holiday cards can be a great opportunity to update your contact management system. You can use this time to ensure you have the latest contact information, delete people you’ve fallen out of touch with and identify which prospects you want to spend more time connecting with in the year ahead.
3. Make the card itself personal.
When it comes to which cards you should send, I suggest you send cards that are uniquely “you.” You might choose cards offered by your favorite charity or cards that have just the right amount of whimsy. Choosing cards that are actually “you” is a small investment of time and money that can highlight your individuality and distinguish you from the crowd. Of course, the ultimate “uniquely you” card is your family holiday card (yes, the one with you and your kids and the dolphin — and as one of my clients said, “It’s best if your kids look hungry!” :)). If you feel comfortable sending your family card to even a portion of your business holiday card list (and only if you feel comfortable doing so), do it. Many professional relationships have been taken to a new level with the conversation that a family card can generate.
4. Skip the e-card!
On the controversial topic of electronic cards, I’ll be honest; I’m no fan. (Apologies to those in the marketing department who worked so hard on them.) Both from my own experience and that of lots of clients, e-cards often don’t get opened (and if they aren’t opened, they can’t have an impact). Those that do get opened often get deleted the moment the animation begins. If you are going to send one, at least personalize it with a holiday greeting unique to each recipient.
5. Time them right.
When it comes to putting your card in the mail, mail your cards either early or late. If your card arrives on December 22, it will be lost in the deluge of other cards. If you just can’t get your cards in the mail by December 15, mail out Happy New Year cards in the first few weeks of January instead.
If even New Year’s feels too busy, pick another holiday at a slower time of year — the first day of spring, Halloween, Thanksgiving — and send cards then. Clients report they’ve gotten great responses to cards celebrating these less popular holidays.
Set aside some time during the holiday season to make an impression on your clients with your holiday greetings. When you see the rewards in the new year, you’ll be glad you did.