Holiday planning for lawyers


The holidays will soon be upon us. What’s your plan? What will you do to market your services and set things up for a good start to the new year?

What’s that? You don’t have a plan? Thank you for being honest. Grab a piece of paper and write at the top, “My plan for the holidays and beyond”.

First item on the list: “Come up with some ideas”.

Now you have a plan! Not a great plan but way better than no plan. At least you know what you need to do.

Time to put on your thinking cap and visit Uncle Google or Aunt Bing. Do a search for ideas related to the holidays, Christmas cards, year end planning, holiday parties, gift giving, and the like. You’ll come up with a bunch of ideas, most of which you will hate or can’t use, but you might get one or two that work.

Put them on your list.

Now you’re cooking.

What’s that? You want me to suggest something?

Okay. Here’s an idea for you. It’s simple, but very powerful.

Whether or not you plan to send Christmas cards (or some other politically correct variation), write a “year end letter” to your clients. Tell them how much you appreciate them. Tell them how much it means to you to be able to serve them. Say thank you.

Review your practice for the preceding year. Mention important cases or milestones. Mention changes and growth. If there were problems, talk about how you overcame them.

Then, talk about the future. If you have news to announce (an office move, new hire, new practice area, etc.), share this or hint at it if you’re not ready to go public. Tell them how this will positively affect them.

Add a personal comment or two, something about your kids or grand kids, or about something else you do that you are proud of. Give your clients a glimpse into your personal life.

(A glimpse. I’m not saying you need to invite them to the house for dinner.)

At the end, encourage them to contact you with any legal question or issue. You may not handle that type of issue but you know other attorneys you can recommend.

Why write this letter? Because it’s important to say thank you to your clients. You can’t do that enough. When you share your accomplishments for the year and plans for the future, you’re not just saying thank you, you’re showing them what your relationship with them means to you. They matter. You wouldn’t be where you are today without them. They’re not just names in a file folder and billing ledger.

The holidays are a time for giving thanks and this is an effective and memorable way to do that.


Christmas cards are for wimps


When was the last time you wrote your clients?

No, I don’t mean sending a Christmas card, the same one you send to all your clients. I mean a real letter. With real words, not a holiday sentiment written by someone else.

A letter from you (not your firm), not to promote anything, or remind them to update their Will or do their fourth quarter Minutes. Just to say hello. Or to send them an article you thought they might like.

I know, you’ll get back to me on that.

Not long ago, this might have been a big project. Expensive, too. You don’t have that excuse today. Email makes it simple, and virtually free.

If you don’t have an email list for your clients, you need to. Make this your numero uno marketing project. At the top of your list. With a gold star and three exclamation points!!!

Because if you don’t, you won’t write your clients, at least not as often as you should. And if you do, you will have a mechanism for “fundamentally transforming” your practice. English translation: make a boat load of money.

An email list, and regular contact with it, to your clients, prospects, and professional contacts, is critical today. You want repeat business? Stay in touch with your list. You want referrals? Stay in touch with your list. You want traffic to your web site? Stay in touch with your list. All you need is a few minutes to write something and then click a button to send.

That’s the easy part. The hard part? Wanting to do it. See, I know you want the business. What I don’t know is if you believe me when I tell you that this is one of the best ways to get it.

If you’re afraid they don’t want to hear from you, you’ve got to get over that. Send them something interesting, valuable, or inspiring, and they will be glad you wrote and look forward to your next message. Stay in touch with them and when they need your services or know someone who does, they won’t go to a search engine to find a lawyer, they’ll go to their email inbox and find your number.

Lawyers are complicated. Marketing is simple.


Attorneys: Will you be sending holiday greeting cards again this year? (Read this before you do)


‘Tis the season. . .

Yep, the holidays are right around the corner. Will you be sending cards this year?

If you are, this excellent 13-step holiday greeting card guide for law firms will help you create a plan and a timetable.

You don’t want to wait until the last minute. Not with so many decisions to make. Remember last year? You spent way too much time looking through catalogs to find just the right card (mustn’t offend anyone) and then spent way too much money because you didn’t want your clients to think you couldn’t afford a nicer card. . .

I’d like to propose an alternative to this annual ritual of pain.

Don’t misunderstand me, I do recommend communicating with your clients and professional contacts and the holidays are an especially good time to do that. Communication is the sine qua non of relationship building, after all. What I don’t recommend is sending the same commercial greeting cards everyone else sends.

Why? Because a mass market, commercial greeting card that your client reads for three seconds before placing on the fireplace mantle sends an unwritten message:

We’re sending this to you because it is expected of us and we didn’t want to take a chance that you would notice if we didn’t. We couldn’t be bothered to put any thought into it, so we spent some money instead. We want to remind you that we still exist and we hope you will remember us if you need an attorney or know someone who does.”

Commercial holiday cards, the same cards sent by every insurance agent and dentist, are nothing more than advertising, and everyone knows it.

Look, you know these people and you do appreciate them, and they you. You helped them through a tough time or you helped them achieve something important. You met their family or their employees. You really do care about them as individuals, but your holiday card says they are just names on a mailing list.

So, what do I advise instead?

A letter. Send a personal letter to your clients that says what you really want to say.

Tell them what you would tell them if you were sitting with them in person.

Tell them that you appreciate knowing them and you are proud that you have been able to help them. Share news about what happened this year in your practice and personal life and your thoughts about next year. Share a story about a remarkable case, a client who opened a new business, or a new hire in your firm.

Write about the economy and offer solace and advice. Write about books that changed your thinking, and quotes that inspired you. And, because it’s a personal letter, you can write about your kids, your hobbies, or your vacation. Whatever you write about, make sure you tell your clients how grateful you are to know them and have them as clients.

When your clients receive these annual missives, they will read every word. They will tell their friends and families about their attorney’s letter. And because they know you didn’t have to do it, they will call you and send you emails thanking you for taking the time to write a personal message.

My wife and I have friends who send out a family newsletter every year. It’s written by the husband and reads like a newspaper, with headlines, photos with captions, and “news” stories. Very funny news stories. Humor is not easy to pull off, but my friend does it like a pro. My wife and I read it cover to cover, laughing all the way. Our friends moved to the Midwest a few years ago, so we don’t see them much (they visited recently) but their newsletter keeps us informed about what’s going on in their lives and makes us feel like we are still a part of it.

Send your clients and others you care about a year-end personal letter. If not a complete letter, at least add a note inside the card. If you really want to make an impact, add a personal, hand written P.S., something that lets your client know you know who they are.

You don’t need much, just something personal. “Tell Michael I wished him good luck in his soccer tournament!” will be appreciated and long remembered, and so will you.