With the holidays right around the corner (gasp!) we're answering a question sent to us by long time client Ullman & Ullman, P.A. down in Boca Raton, FL. If you need a factoring attorney, or are curious about what a Factoring, Forfaiting and Asset-based Lending law practice does, check out their site at www.uulaw.net.
The eCard vs. paper card debate has a lot more fire to it than you may think. Speaking of fire, score one point for real cards, they can be set ablaze and provide life saving heat in an emergency! But, when we get down to it, we're talking about traditions, nostalgia, the environment, time, marketing opportunities and the delivery of a message that shows "you care." This truly is important stuff.
The quick answer to this week's question is that firms should utilize both eCards and traditional paper cards. Here's why.
There are a ton of benefits to eCards. They are more environmentally friendly. They usually cost less. They can be easily shared and forwarded through email and social media. There is more space to write and use media including animations, photos and videos. The recipient can reply right within their email program. No need to track down ever changing physical mailing addresses (especially for younger clients). And, when using an eCard platform or mailing list software, you get very insightful statistics on delivery, open and click rates.
On the flip side, there are perception problems with eCards that need to be addressed. They can be viewed as lazy, cheap and impersonal. To counteract such perceptions, you need to go beyond using a stock eCard template and have the design customized to your brand. You should make it more personal by including photos that are more casual/family oriented, a video message, or a letter recapping the year. Photos and video should obviously be respectable, but don't need to be professionally produced — in fact, if you can shoot them yourself, that will look more personal and authentic. The whole idea of sending a card is to personally connect, so don't go overboard on fancy animations and effects, just put yourself out there. The key to an eCard that doesn't get scoffed at is to utilize the technology to deliver your message in a way not possible through paper cards.
No doubt about it, when you're able to physically deliver a paper card, recipients will know that time, personal attention and money was put into it. Being a corporate card, it may not elevate to the mantel of the house, but there is an experience that comes with opening, holding and reading a card that email can't replicate. Beyond the nostalgia and experience, a paper card has additional benefits. You can include a letter, business cards and photos. You can also put pen to paper and include a handwritten note and signatures from you and your team. Bottom line, everyone loves getting something nice in the mail.
Paper cards also present some challenges. They do have a higher cost per recipient and they do take a chunk of time to do. There are also environmental concerns with using all of that paper and delivery infrastructure. While there isn't much to do about the material cost, there are some very interesting ways to express additional care for the world and its inhabitants by using cards that are made from 100% recycled material. You can also purchase cards from a charity provider so that some proceeds support a cause of your choosing. The fantastic website at www.cardsthatgive.org will connect you with over 300 charity organizations that sell paper cards.
To address the time commitment, throw a card party! Get your team together in a casual environment where they can share their plans and relieve some of the stress from the holiday season. Pairing this with handwriting cards means that the job gets done in a fraction of the time. Before everyone gets together, print out instructions for the message to be written and the format you would like to use on each card. With a list of clients' names and a pile of pens, cards, and envelopes, you can finish the stack in no time.
There are clear benefits to both eCards and traditional paper cards. Because of this we advocate for a strategy that utilizes both. First, identify the select people (referral sources, clients, business contacts and key vendors) that should receive a paper card and get those out in the mail first. Second, after your paper cards have been delivered, launch your eCard out to EVERYONE (website, social media channels, acquaintances, friends, family) including the paper card recipients.
Here are some helpful, fun and money saving links:
If you need help with a holiday card campaign this year, don't hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our savvy team can help design and execute a plan for your firm. If you have a question you'd like to submit to us about the business end of practicing law you can do that here.