Now that the holidays are officially over, let’s have a little talk.
Over the past ten years, firms have abandoned giving out gifts or cards to their clients during the holidays. Instead, a large majority of firms send a blast holiday email.
It’s a very common thing in our industry that nearly everyone accepts as OK, and most people think is pretty neat. I’m going to explain why I firmly believe sending a generic holiday email blast is a horrible mistake.
The holiday emails I’m speaking of take a few different forms.
- A non-religious holiday image with a generic hallmarky message.
- A photo of your staff with a hallmarky message.
- Photo or video of your staff’s children trying to be cute.
- A big logo. When I click on it, it goes to some pointless flash animation or video.
- Some combination of 1-5, with a list of charities you support (or are donating to on my supposed behalf).
The common “reason” given is that sending emails is more sustainable. I’m not going to argue that.
But here’s the other side of the coin. Firms have asked marketing departments to do more with less. A card costs $2 and an email costs less than two cents. Therefore, it’s cheaper and you’ll “reach” many more people with an email.
It also takes significantly less time and effort to send 1,000 emails than 1,000 cards or gifts. Not all Principals want to spend all day writing personalized, thoughtful messages on hundreds of cards. And trust me, spending days stuffing and labeling 1,000 custom chocolate bars isn’t anybody’s idea of a fun time (especially if you have a reduced marketing staff).
So, I’ll admit it is reasonable to believe that Mother Earth prefers emails. But you need to admit, it is also a hell of a lot easier and cheaper for your firm.
Let’s Think About This
Here’s the harsh reality. Sending a blast holiday email shows that you could really care less about your clients/friends/teaming partners and are only willing to do the bare minimum (an email blast).
On top of that, you are just copycatting what every other firm in the A/E/C industry now does, one generic holiday message to rule them all. No value included, just an exercise in wasting people’s time (so they won’t “forget you”).
These emails fail even in their self-serving intention, because they are just like the countless holiday emails every would-be client or teaming partner will get during the holiday (instantly forgotten after you click delete).
Nine times out of ten, the recipient will not even know who decided they should get the email, even when they know your firm. If they don’t know (or remember) your firm, it will be seen as an advertisement…a blatant and self-serving disrespect of the recipient’s time.
Look At Your Open Rates
Think I’m over exaggerating? Look at your open rates for these holiday emails. How many people opened your holiday email this year? 20%? 40%?
If your holiday email blast had an open rate of more than 60%, post a link to it in the comments because I’ll be shocked. The industry average is 15%.
At best, 40% of the people you send these to don’t even open them…don’t even open them. More likely, 85% of the people you send these to don’t open them.
Now let me ask you this. Have you ever received a holiday card in the regular mail and not open it? I haven’t. I mean, what kind of Scrooge do you need to be to not open a card you receive in the mail?
Now, have you ever received a holiday email and didn’t get around to opening it? I have. And I’m willing to bet you have, too.
Are you beginning to see the problem here?
The Mother Test
You wouldn’t send your mother a generic holiday email, why would you send one to a client?
Why would you send the individuals who have enabled you and your coworkers to live a life that’s better than 99% of the people on this planet a generic holiday email blast?
Think about that!
Standing Out With Your Clients
I’ve never personally hired an architect or engineer. Yet, I receive at least 50 of these emails (starting on Thanksgiving and ending mid-January). Most of the time they are from firms I have either never heard of or have forgotten about.
Different is Better (Broken Record)
You are a fool if you think every other firm doing it is a reason for you to do it. Everybody else doing it is, in fact, the reason you should do something different.
Let me shake you one more time screaming, “Different is better than better!!!”
The Best Corporate Holiday Card I Ever Received
The best I ever received was from a friend at TY Lin. It was a card with a personalized message. The card also included a “gift card” worth $1 that I could designate to a charity of my choosing.
By redeeming that card, I felt like I was being a good person. Granted, I’m sure it cost way more than $1 to send it. But when you are dealing with people who can’t accept gifts, $1 (for you to give away) would be hard to classify as a gift.
Paper Cards Are Not The Solution
Want to hear what’s even worse than a blast email? A blast paper card is. I’m talking about these cards I get that aren’t even signed by an individual. Often they have the name of the firm or a printed list of staff names. Yuck! Thanks for letting me know you could care less.
Let’s contrast that with what I get from Chris Hill. Every year, Chris (a construction lawyer in VA) sends me a holiday card with a funny cartoon on the front. Inside there is a personalized message from Chris to me. Chris is a friend, but he’s also one of my firm’s clients.
He took time out of his day to send me something personalized. What a guy! Seriously, what wouldn’t I do for Chris Hill?
Personalized, Of Value
This is the key. I believe you have to send personalization and/or value.
I sent every HelpEverybodyEveryday.com subscriber “10 Incredible Insights on Creating Winning Proposals.”
As discussed in my last post, I also experimented with sending personalized emails with Zurmo (my CRM).
My firm sent their list a free chapter of our $80 book on construction delays.
And I sent current clients I’ve brought in individual emails where I personally thanked them.
Time For A Change
Generic holiday email blasts shouldn’t be the norm. That shouldn’t be the standard we hold ourselves to when it comes to communicating with our clients and teaming partners. Personalization and value should be the norm.
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