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Nothing But the Ruth
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Nothing But the Ruth!

Boldly Go Where No Firm Has Gone Before — With Your Holiday Card

By Ruth Carter

A holiday card catalog arrived in the mail a few weeks ago. I’m mostly a holiday purist who believes that you shouldn’t start celebrating the December holidays until after Thanksgiving. However, there are exceptions when holiday activities require weeks of preparation.

Many businesses send out holiday cards to their clients and important contacts. Before you start thumbing through those catalogs too intently, though, let me ask you a few questions.

  • Do you remember who sent you cards last holiday season?
  • Do you remember what any of those cards looked like?
  • Do you still have any of those cards?

Holiday cards are a marketing tactic — I know it and you know it. It’s a way to give someone a warm fuzzy feeling while taking advantage of the holiday season to remind them you exist. If you do this, you’re not a bad person, you’re just networking. You are doing what you can to keep your practice top-of-mind so clients will call when they need you or are asked to make a referral.

If your ultimate goal is to create buzz and awareness for your firm, though, do something memorable.

Make It Personal

If you must send a holiday card, send a personalized note — something that will stay with the recipients, hopefully something they won’t throw away at the end of the holidays. If your firm is going with a company card that is signed by everyone or no one, do something noteworthy like a funny photo or a message that is remarkable. A generic card of holly leaves with a preprinted note that says “Happy Holidays from XYZ Law Firm” will, at best, be displayed with the other holiday cards received and be in the recycling bin by New Year’s Day.

I don’t send a holiday card or newsletter in my personal life. I have a blog if anyone wants to know what I’m up to. I’m not shy about sending notes when I have something to say. And I don’t send a holiday card on behalf of my firm because I don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars and dozens of hours working on a marketing piece that has a high risk of getting lost in the shuffle.

Make It Memorable

Ruth Carter's Star Trek PostcardThis year, instead of holiday cards I sent out postcards that I had custom made to celebrate the future birthday of Captain Kirk from Star Trek. (I was inspired by a story about a company that sent cards to celebrate Elvis Presley’s birthday.) I worked with a local graphic designer who incorporated one of my favorite quotes from Star Trek on the front, and a pre-printed message on the back that allowed enough space for a short, personal handwritten note. (Click here to see the final proof of the postcard.) I sent out over 400 of these postcards in March 2014. I’m still getting positive feedback about them. Several people told me they put the card up in their office.

When’s the last time you got a compliment on last year’s holiday card? If you must send a holiday card, make it worth your while and do something memorable. Give the recipients a reason to pin it to their bulletin board.

As an aside, if you’re waiting until the holidays to tell your clients and contacts that you appreciate them, you’re doing it wrong. That should be an everyday practice in your business.

Ruth Carter is a lawyer, writer and speaker. Her law practice, The Carter Law Firm, focuses on intellectual property, social media, First Amendment and flash mob law. Ruth is the author of the ABA book “The Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers,” as well as “Flash Mob Law: The Legal Side of Planning and Participating in Pillow Fights, No Pants Rides, and Other Shenanigans.” Follow her on Twitter @rbcarter.

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Ruth Carter

Ruth Carter — lawyer, writer and professional speaker — is Of Counsel with Venjuris, focusing on intellectual property, business, internet, and flash mob law. Named an ABA Journal Legal Rebel, Ruth is the author of the ABA book “The Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers,” as well as “Flash Mob Law: The Legal Side of Planning and Participating in Pillow Fights, No Pants Rides, and Other Shenanigans.” In “Nothing But the Ruth,” they write about the lessons they’re learning while building their practice. Ruth blogs at UndeniableRuth.com and tweets @rbcarter.

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