Are Law Firm Holiday Cards Becoming Obsolete?

I received twice as many holiday cards from law firms in 2014 than I have so far this year. And an unscientific survey of law firms suggests that this might be a growing trend. For example, the managing partner of a firm that displays the cards it receives in its reception area also noted that this year’s allotment of paper holiday cards is way down.

So what are attorneys and law firms doing in lieu of traditional holiday cards?

If my experience is representative, they are sending electronic cards using Constant Contact, Vertical Response, MailChimp, or other service they use to send an electronic newsletter. These cards reach your in box and the body of the email contains a static color image accompanied by a message that you would typically see on a paper card. These cards have been primarily sent by my smaller firms.

Larger firms appear to be more likely to send animated e-cards that are accompanied by music. Some of them appear to be customized, such as the e-card sent by Fox Rothschild, which features the image of a red fox.

So what should we make of the sharp decline in the use of paper holiday cards by law firms and attorneys?

Overall this is a commendable trend. In a world where law firms can reach clients and referral sources through the year using a variety of marketing channels, holiday cards are especially likely to be tuned out. Moreover, on a per-unit basis, paper cards cost 50-100 times as much as e-cards.

And my personal sense is that nothing creates a worse impression than a badly designed or executed paper holiday card. I am more forgiving of the firm that sent the animated ecard that didn’t open or run very smoothly than I am of the firm that sent me a paper card that was unsigned and lacked any indication of who at the firm actually sent it. When the e-card malfunctioned, I attributed it to a computer glitch. Perhaps the card’s audio didn’t work well because I launched it on my smart phone. But sending out a generic, unsigned card seems comparatively more crass.

My judgments are of course subjective. Your mileage may vary. You may resent the rise of ecards and the demise of paper cards. Or perhaps the most important lesson to be learned about holiday cards is that, as part of a law firm’s overall marketing strategy, they don’t matter as much as they used to.

What has been your experience with law firm holiday cards this year?