Updated: Jan 8, 2021
It always seems like the fall, especially November and December, are a whirlwind of activity for law firms. From holiday parties to end-of-the-year paperwork, it can seem overwhelming to add client or collegial gift-giving to the endless to-do list. However, if you consider the benefits of this thoughtful practice and prepare ahead of time, it can be a simple addition to your holiday season that brings rewards for the rest of the year.
Why Should Law Firms Give Holiday Gifts?
The obvious answer is: because it is a nice thing to do.
Still, there are a number of psychological reasons why gift-giving is so rewarding for a law firm. In a 2018 study by the University of Zurich, sales agents who brought their customers a small tube of toothpaste (a gift completely unrelated to their sales pitch and worth only pennies), saw double the orders of their non-gift-giving counterparts.
There was one catch, though: the sales were only increased if the agent already had a personal business connection with the client the gift was given to. That means that giving gifts can be very helpful in solidifying business relationships, but is not as effective at creating new ones.
Who Gets a Holiday Gift from Your Law Firm?
Although every person is important, it pays to be wise about who receives a holiday gift from your firm. Remember: gifts are meant to be a solidifying of a relationship. Consider those people who you already have good relationships with. Then, decide who else might be included based on your practice and your budget.
Some people to include are:
● Those who have referred you business or who have given you their business
● Business mentors
● Select long term or institutional clients
● Outstanding client staff. For example, a helpful paralegal that is in-house or an assistant that always helps track down your general counsel client
Finally, it is a good idea to consider who might feel “left out” of your gift-giving during the holidays. A client or colleague who is sensitive to feeling included might be a good addition, even if they are not a very close relationship.
What Should A Law Firm Give as a Holiday Gift?
As I mentioned before, you do not have to create an elaborate holiday gift experience in order to see the benefits of gift-giving. Still, you want to make sure that your gift is an appropriate reminder of your practice, your personality, and the relationship you have with that person.
Keep it classy. Gifts are all about moderation, remember? While you don’t want to buy everyone in the office iPads, giving branded sticky notes is just not enough to do the trick. Choose a price point that is comfortable and a gift that is simple but well-made. Gift baskets that have the recipient in mind are always a hit.
Food is a winner. Even though it seems obvious, I have never had a client return a box of chocolate. Still, go beyond a popcorn tin or bag of mints. Buy a local or unique food item that they may have never tried before. Colorado has some amazing local chocolatiers and non-perishable trail mixes. Food can be packaged in customized and branded materials to really make them stand out.
Avoid booze unless you are 100% sure. Alcohol can be a tricky gift as not everyone drinks. Unless you have a very close relationship with the client or colleague, avoid alcohol altogether.
Reflect your relationship. Even if you do stand-up comedy in your spare time, a “funny” gift may not be the right choice for a judge that you will litigate in front of for the next decade. Gifts should be stylish and personal, but not too personal. Consider a customized wine bag that says something catchy or a donation to their favorite non-profit if you want to make an impression.
Live gifts. It is always nice to give holiday-specific live gifts like wreaths or poinsettias. Consider more unique long-term live gifts as well, such as orchids or ferns. These are great reminders that you care long after the holiday is done. Just be sure that you give them to someone who will water them.
When to Give?
Although we typically think of December as the perfect time for holiday gifts, there are several reasons to do it earlier or later. Many people do not celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, and there are a number of other religious holidays that you may not want to seem like you’re excluding. In addition, so many gifts are given during December that yours might get lost in the crowd.
I suggest for my clients to do something a little more untraditional to make their gift stand out. For example, celebrating Thanksgiving with a gift is a great alternative that most people are very comfortable with. You can also wait until the holiday hubbub has settled and send a New Year’s gift. Either way, your uniquely timed gift will make it that much more memorable.
Holidays are stressful enough for law firms without adding another thing to your plate. Still, gift-giving is a research-driven way to build your relationships for the rest of the year. Keep your gifts simple, professional, and personal. With a little planning, you will find that finding great gifts for your clients and colleagues is not a hassle, but a pleasure that you look forward to every year.
Meranda M. Vieyra is the owner of Denver Legal Marketing LLC. She is one of the most visible legal professionals in Colorado law with over 20 years of service in the Denver legal community. Her award-winning marketing firm has earned a strong reputation as the go-to for impactful, cost-effective legal marketing strategies. She has helped her clients secure coverage by well-known publications and has obtained local, national, and international awards on their behalf. Meranda enjoys working with solo practitioners and small law firms helping them attract recognition, promotion, and visibility to their practices. She also advises medium-sized and national law firms on business development and marketing strategy. Meranda is a lecturer and author on issues related to marketing including how lawyers can use LinkedIn effectively, how to develop a personal brand, and the promotion of legal services through community service. In 2018, she was honored to be named to the 40 Under 40 list by the Denver Business Journal and to be given the 10 Under 10 Award by the Metropolitan State University of Denver Alumni Association (top 10 alum of the decade). In 2019, Meranda was named in the Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Business by the Colorado Women's Chamber of Commerce and in the Top 100 young professionals in Colorado through the Gen XYZ Awards published by ColoradoBiz Magazine.
For more information, go to www.DenverLegalMarketing.com