By Mark Powers & Shawn McNalis
With the holidays upon us, it is a perfect opportunity to build greater rapport with those you know, and begin relationships with others. Remember that strong referrals come from people with whom you have built a relationship of mutual rapport, trust, and confidence. Take some time this season to acknowledge clients, referral sources, and peers.
And do not forget your influencers. These key individuals are generally people you know peers and professionals with whom you have networked — who can directly refer your services to prospective clients, or influence those who can.
Just by mixing and mingling at holiday events, you will raise “Top-of-Mind Awareness” about yourself.
However, remember that cocktail parties can also get you into trouble. There are some guidelines to abide by that will save you from a headache the morning after. First and foremost, limit yourself to two drinks. This will keep the dreaded loose tongue from rearing its ugly head. Also remember it is better to be the first to leave rather than the last to leave.
If you bring a gift to the function, call the host’s assistant in advance to find out his or her preferences. It reflects better on you if you bring something that they will enjoy. With gifts like a bottle of wine, candy or liquor, include a card stating that it is for the host’s enjoyment after the party. Then, the host will not feel obliged to serve it at the party.
Word-of-Mouth Marketing Skills
Make sure you do more than just mingle at holiday parties. These events can be powerful opportunities to polish your word-of-mouth marketing skills … and have fun while doing it. Practice introducing yourself with style and purpose. Refine your storytelling technique with stories about your practice, who you like to help and why. Explain why your practice is unique and your clients special. Well-delivered stories, which can be anything from long, involved tales, to short analogies and anecdotes, can be an extremely effective means of communicating with a prospective client or referral source. With stories, a lot of information can be communicated in a brief amount of time and in an entertaining manner. If you can deliver your story with appropriate humor, it is even more powerful.
In addition to being out and about, following are simple holiday marketing ideas to make sure you stay top of mind this season:
Cards & Letters
Send out holiday greetings in the form of cards or letters. Both holiday cards and festive papers are available for purchase and can be run off on your own printer. Realizing that not everyone shares the same background, steer clear of overly religious symbols.
If you send out a letter-style greeting, include information about your practice that may help in cross-selling your services, i.e. you are expanding your practice to include another specialty.
Gifts to a favorite client or influencer to say Happy Holidays are a nice gesture. Here are some suggestions:
- A basket of their favorite wine, cheese or gourmet food,
- Tickets to the symphony, a concert, game or play,
- A restaurant or shop gift certificate or
- Something for their office engraved with your thanks.
Invite clients and influencers who you want to get to know to join you in charitable activities such as feeding the homeless, or distributing gifts to underprivileged children. This is a great way to build rapport and serve a good cause as well.
Host a Party or Open House Event
Plan an open house at your office. Set up a buffet table and serve food for either a lunch or dinner event. Hire a chef, or better yet, do it yourself by being the one to carve the roast, serve the punch or cut the holiday cake. If you are serving drinks, stop serving 30 minutes prior to the end of the party.
Or, plan a less formal open house, for which you and your staff prepare and bring cookies, cakes or pies or use supermarket catering, i.e. meat, cheese and vegetable party platters. Be available to give tours of your office and take the opportunity to educate your client and influencer guests about the full range of your practice. You could also entertain special clients and influencers at your home or in a favorite restaurant. Keep it an intimate and small group if you wish to have maximum time with individuals. Or, make it larger if you can put together a group that will mix well. Many clients will be impressed by an invitation of this kind from “their attorney.” You can center the party around decorating the tree or choose another theme for fun. If your guests bring a gift, make sure to send a handwritten thank you note within a day or two of the party.
At any of the events you host, you could also request a wrapped toy for admission. Then take the whole batch to the charity of your choice.
Most importantly, when you begin to include clients and influencers in activities outside of the professional realm, you build deeper bonds as well as “Top-of-Mind Awareness.” Whatever marketing activity you choose to do, have fun and enjoy the season!