In my last post, I talked about holiday marketing for CPA firms and other professional service providers. Sticking with that theme, today’s post is about holiday cards. More importantly, it’s about personalization – holiday card personalization.
Business is all about relationships. Even retailers strive to make connections with their target markets, and some are more successful than others. But when it comes to choosing a professional service provider, such as an accountant or lawyer, the personal connection you have with the person who handles your financial and family matters is essential. As the provider, it is vital that you do everything you can to maintain that relationship.
The holidays offer a unique opportunity to reinforce your relationship with your existing clients. The key to strengthening your bond is personalization. Sending out this year’s cleverest accounting holiday card with your firm’s name (or even its logo) printed on it is not sufficient. Elves preparing tax returns, Santa’s “assets and liabilities” naughty and nice list, a giant red gift bag full of accounting receipts… cards like these may be cute, but they are not going to cement your relationship with your valued clients. Especially if they are not personalized.
How many generic holiday cards do you receive from friends and family? Not many, I suspect. With all of the tools available to produce customized holiday cards, very few people send out mass-produced mailings unless they also include a letter and some family photos inside the card.
Make your firm stand out from the crowd.
Why should your firm be any different? ‘Tis the season for even more personalization than what you strive for throughout the year. It’s your opportunity to give thanks, express gratitude and grow an ongoing rapport that will help you through the stress of busy season and beyond. Take the time to customize and truly personalize your holiday cards for the greatest impact and return on investment.
Here are some tips for how you can maximize your holiday card marketing and client retention efforts this season:
1) Include a personal note with each of your holiday cards.
Simply signing your name won’t cut it. Take a stack of cards and your client list with you everywhere you go – in the car, to meetings outside the office, to lunch, and even when you go home at night. Whenever you have a few minutes, write a note that is specifically pertinent to your client. Jotting down a personal note while watching TV with your family, waiting for a doctor’s appointment, or sitting at a railroad crossing can do wonders for your relationship with your clients. If your partners, lawyers or executives can’t make the time to sign the cards personally, don’t send them. Nothing says “I deeply value your business and our relationship” like a generic, unsigned card with the firm’s name foil-stamped on them. Pixelated images of your partners’ signatures aren’t any better. No one will fire you for failing to send them a generic greeting card. But they may refer you or expand their own business with you if they receive a personalized note from you that fortifies how much you care about them. Don’t be afraid to express your unique personality in your notes, either. Who you are as a person is an important factor in your relationships with your clients.
2) Use photos of yourself, your partners, key team members or entire firm
Rather than buying 5,000 politically-correct holiday greeting cards, customize your holiday cards with photos of your people. You don’t have to spend a fortune on a photographer or shut down your firm for an all-day photo shoot (although you can get a lot of marketing mileage out of a professional shoot all year round). Host a holiday lunch for your associates and ask them to dress in a holiday theme or in specific colors or wear specific hats (perhaps provide an assortment of head gear, such as reindeer antlers, Santa hats and snow flake headbands for diversity) and take both group and individual photos. Create a collage card, slideshow, or e-card with musical accompaniment with the photos. Crowell & Moring LLP, a law firm, created this engaging holiday video e-card using fun photos of its own employees. The video is even more personal by including an interactive element: it asks guests to vote for the ugliest sweater. For each vote, a charitable donation was made. Fabulous!
3) Emphasize family and relationships in your messaging
Whether you send out an e-card or a print holiday card, focus on family. That’s what your clients are focusing on this time of year. Your firm’s family is its staff. Last year, the Van Winkle Law Firm created a brilliant holiday campaign, comprised of a fun holiday video and a related pop-up printed card (which you can see at the end of the video). Neither the video nor the print card required a significant amount of the firm’s time for development as the photographs used could have been taken at any time. The CPA and business advisory firm of Skoda Minotti used its staff members’ actual family photos to create its holiday e-card last year, which took no staff time to produce (other than looking for a photo to submit to the marketing department to be used in the e-card).
Remember, business is all about relationships. While you use the holiday theme to market to prospects, don’t forget about your existing clients and how valuable their ongoing patronage is. Let them know that you appreciate them through true personalization. It may take a bit more of your time, but it will pay greater dividends in the end.
Have YOU developed a fabulously personalized holiday campaign? Share your holiday cards, holiday videos and holiday e-cards with us in the comments below.
Happy holiday marketing!