At this time of the year, many professional firms will spend a huge amount of time (not to mention money on printing and postage and charity donations) on Christmas cards.
There will probably be a team of harrassed administrators rushing between partner offices with bundles of different option cards (some with a traditional Christmas greeting and others with a politcally correct “Season’s Greetings”) littered with yellow stickies indicating where each partner should sign each card.
The alternative is a non co-ordinated approach where clients risk receiving several copies of the same (usually dull and safe or comically naff – where’s your brand strategy guys?) card from the same firm, or, worse still, a key client receives no card at all.
When I ask firms why they go through this annual pain, they say that it is the one time of the year when they actually get round to getting their firms name in front of their clients. Mmmn – are we sending Christmas greetings or are we doing marketing here? Why not sort out your day to day client communications programme then – wouldn’t it be easier?
Of course, smarter firms have got it all sorted out on a sexy CRM database and use the annual greetings card exercise as a chance to focus partners’ attention on updating the information that is held. Funnily enough, those with the databases are often the ones who have boldly decided to dispense with the whole printing fiasco and either simply send an electronic card (hoping that the animated ones don’t get stopped by people’s email filters/browsers) or apply a short note to the end of all emails stating “Instead of sending Christmas cards this year, we are making a donation to (name) charity” and possibly with a link to a relevant web page.
Personally, I find electronic cards too impersonal. You can’t sit them on your desk and admire them. You don’t have the tactile experience. One quick view in the in box and they are gone. Plus you know that you are probably just on a mailing list somewhere and the person didn’t really think about sending you greetings at all – just pressed a button.
For the first time this year (because I wasn’t organised enough during September) I have not had cards printed and then spent ages producing labels and trying to write something more than “Regards, Kim” on each card. But I have selected some charity cards – and enjoyed thinking about which card designs and charities might be appreciated by different clients. And I have carefully considered who might actually appreciate a card, rather than a call before or after Christmas or perhaps a copy of an article that I think they might find of some real value which I can send with a comment that includes my seasonal greeting. I think personal is best.
But I must mention that I still receive lots of cards from my clients and business colleagues. And I love to receive them. Yet each year the number dwindles. But the quality goes up. My fave so far this year was actually a small advent calendar from Wiggin solicitors. For each day we have to guess what was the No 1 Christmas single for the relevant year. And there is a chocolate under each window. It has been the source of immense amusement and many discussions in this household. That’s the spirit!
So I guess that if you have the right intention and good execution, the card season can be an opportunity to send a well positioned and thoughtful reminder to clients and colleagues.