Holiday eCards, law firms, lawyers and one person’s opinion

Sending a digital eCard to a huge database list of “everyone,” without taking a moment to…

  • reflect that behind each name is a real person,
  • jot a simple note, and
  • add a hand written signature…

…is equivalent to diet mashed potatoes.

If you’re going to serve mashed potatoes without the butter, milk, salt, and gravy, why bother. I think eCards, too, miss several critical ingredients. Even the ones that come from an individual’s email address (rather than from info@) seem cold and aloof, no matter how clever the design. It’s impersonal. Besides, who wants diet food over the holidays? We get sooo many emails every day, and there’s a chance your eCard will end up in the spam filter.

Oh the dilemma!

Now, I understand the problems that law firms face during the holiday card season:

  1. Lots of cards to send
  2. Can’t agree on a design
  3. It’s time consuming to sign them all (my secretary can do it)
  4. It can get complicated coordinating signatures from multiple lawyers working on a single account
  5. Getting it done in time

On the flip side, eCards solve several problems:

  1. Your database is set up for email blasts so there’s no extra effort
  2. Some people still think they’re cool, especially the animated ones, no matter what design you choose
  3. You don’t have to sign them–your digital signature is in your email template–extra marketing points for a link to your website or social network
  4. No postage–though there are production costs
  5. It’s easy to push send and be done with it

Another point of view

Still, it seems to me that since being a lawyer is a relationship-based profession, taking time at the holidays to send a real card with a personal note and a handwritten signature is not asking too much. (I’ve yet to see an eCard with a personal touch but I hope I’m wrong and someone can share one with us.)

I also know that much has been written and said about whether or not law firms should be sending holiday eCards or not, and from a practical point of view, it is much more efficient. But, I’m wondering, have we lost some of the specialness of holiday greetings in the process? Am I being over sentimental?  Do you have an opinion?

Here’s mine…

Being a very web and technology oriented person, I pondered to myself as I started to carefully choose, address, sign, and jot personal notes on a pile of over 100 paper holiday cards this week. I said to myself,

“This is a lot of work! Shouldn’t I be using a more “contemporary” channel to wish my colleagues, clients, and friends a happy holiday? Just think of all the time I’d save by sending an eCard. Plus, if I sent an eCard, I could include links to my website, promote my blog and encourage recipients to follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn.”

My answer came quickly, loud and clear: NO! You see, as I went through my list, checking it twice, each name caused me to reflect on the individual. It brought to mind the valuable meaning they lent to my business or personal life. Some reminded me of the satisfaction I received working with them, the challenges we met, or the failures we endured. Others made me very thankful for their support over the years and the laughs or tears we shared.

I thought of their careers, their families, and their personal or professional goals of which I sometimes knew. This process made me very thankful to know each one of those names on my list. In fact, looking at the stack, I felt humbled to be associated with such great clients, colleagues, and friends. I would not want to give up this process for anything. I don’t want to send these valuable people diet mashed potatoes.

Then, I visualized the addressee receiving their mail one day, opening the envelope, admiring the card, and taking just a minute to read the note and signature—maybe even thinking “how nice of her to think of me,” and placing it somewhere in their office to add some cheer.

It isn’t every day that an opportunity to send a note to someone who has added meaning to my life—whether in deed, word or income–comes along. This once a year tradition makes it special. I don’t know about you, but getting a real card (birthday or holiday) in the mail always makes me feel a bit more special and I remember the sender fondly.

Plus or minus

While I realize there may be a time and a place for both types of greetings, I would think an attorney in the relationship business would jump on this opportunity to prepare and send a personal greeting to each of the 100 most important people in their contact database, just to let them know they were thinking of them. It would, IMHO, dull the constant dripping of every day email communications that seem to only deliver briefs, bills or bad news, right?

Will you be sending “real” holiday cards this year?

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