Thursday, November 29, 2007


A few years ago many law firms stopped sending clients, prospects and friends of the firm holiday gifts such as cookie bouquets, candy boxes, flavored pop corn and other treats. Instead they mailed cards that said that in lieu of the money spent on such tokens of appreciation, they were instead donating the money to worthy charities.

I liked this move, as rarely was any gift that spectacular, and the season should be about giving. The jury is still out on if firms actually made donations in the same dollar amounts as their gift budgets, in fact most people I talk with say that the dollars are substantially lower and the move was more about saving money than it was about supporting a good cause. I don't know either way.

However, this trend was well received. I especially like the Thanksgiving Card I received last week from one major Texas law firm who made their donations to the local food bank in each city where they have an office. This was a good move because it touches the communities where these lawyers live, and the food banks are important charities that help countless families in the cities they serve. Especially around the holidays.

But we may have now hit a new low. Today I got a holiday email from a law firm who proudly announced that they have now done away with "paper holiday cards" and are simply sending an HTML email. They would now be giving the card money to charity. While I love the idea of giving to charity (Read more about The Kate Singer Endowment for Cranio Facial fact, I encourage you to make a donation!), but this move might be the lamest thing I have seen in a long time.

Lawyers are notorious for thinking that their holiday card is a powerful touch of clients, prospects and friends of their firm (it is not, because people get dozens, if not hundreds of cards this time of year). They make it worse by sending cards that are foil stamped rather than hand-signed. But an email? And a boring email to top it all off. Can you say DELETE.

It would have been better to send nothing. At least then they would not be noticed at all.

Granted, I am the guy who lectures on networking, business development, sales, marketing and PR to firms around the United States who brow beats them about sending handwritten notes and other personal expressions of gratitude ALL YEAR LONG. Thus I am already biased against any effort that strays away from showing people you care. Therefore, I am not sure that I am being fair in this post. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe the clients of law firms are different than other human beings. Maybe they appreciate the cheap efficiency which allows their lawyers more time to bill hours. Maybe.

How much money are they saving by not sending a card? I understand the gifts, as those can run upwards of $25 per person for a useless food item that does not even taste good. With the high number of contacts per office, a firm can give lots of money to their cause instead of a trinket of a gift.... but a card does not cost that much...even with the 41 cent postage. Can the total per person be more than $3???

This screams with the message of "Coordinating the holiday card mailing has become too much work, so I am taking the easy way out. A 'Blind CC' to my whole list in Outlook is much easier for my secretary to administer, thus neither she nor I need to give you any thought this holiday season. Additionally, we are giving the equivalent of $2.50 to a charity in your name. We care that much about you!"

Come on folks, who in the legal marketing profession or law firm management thinks this is a good idea? I challenge the other law firm bloggers to pipe in on this topic. Have we gone too far to save money and avoid the work to reach out and touch our clients? My guess is that they still spend the money on mailing an invoice! (or maybe that is paperless too and they give the postage to save the whales?).

My opinion is that it is not necessary to send holiday gifts. While they are appreciated, they often have little impact (unless you do something amazingly unique!). Holiday cards are a nice touch, but again, companies get so many of them that you are probably not missed if you do not make the effort. But a holiday email is just so impersonal that I feel it will be easily seen as a negative rather than a positive in the eyes of the client. Leave a comment here and let me know what you think.

Have A Great Day.



Anonymous said...

i hate email "greeting cards". They say "When you don't care enough to go to the store and by the very best".

Email has become so common that people think it is equal to other forms of communications. But it is not.

Law firms know this, they still send real letters (via fed ex) when they want to make an impression on someone they are suing. They do not just email the other party a note with flash graphics!

Think about it lawyers...would a cease and desist order be taken seriously if it was in an HTML email? Nope. Then what makes you think that your holiday greeting will be taken seriously?

Mary Pat

Anonymous said...

This firm has taken it to a new level. We lawyers do not really understand the purpose of client contact. If we can do it cheaper and more efficient we can check off the box. "Holiday greeting to client X is completed".

If this was my firm I would pay my own money to mail my own holiday cards.

Aruni said...

Actually I gave thought to sending our personal holiday greeting card out as an email with a save paper, money, and time because I am usually the one doing all the addressing. :-) But then I realized if everyone else did that then we wouldn't have pictures to put on our fridge of all our friends & family and our fridge would look so bare. :-)