Scratch-n-Sniff Letterhead for Your Law Firm

scratch-and-sniffOne of the more exciting things to come out of last year’s ABA Tech Show is a renewed interest in scratch-n-sniff technology. The technology peaked in 1981 with John Waters’s use of Smell-O-Vision in the movie Polyester. It also caught on with some law firms in the early 1990s who felt that “new leather smell” on client invoices would increase pay rates. Limitations on printing technology, however, has limited more widespread use of scratch-n-sniff. Until today.

I visited the SniffRocket booth at a recent tech show and was literally blown away by what it offered. Patchouli, rose maroc, apple crumble, and new-born babies are all available as scratch-n-sniff scents for law firm letterhead. Better yet, with specialized microfragrance inkjet cartridges, you can reproduce various scents for your own letterhead that will last up to two weeks, even after being transmitted by fax. Brilliant.

But before you get out the credit card and buy a ream of scratch-n-sniff bacon letterhead ($350 ream, applewood smoked bacon extra), here are some key issues to consider before implementing scratch-n-sniff technology into your practice.

  • Expense. Despite its simple user interface, scratch-n-sniff can be expensive. A ream of “Mocha Java” scratch-n-sniff letterhead can run $400. One way to reduce costs, however, is to purchase scratch-n-sniff stickers that you can place strategically on letterhead when needed. In addition, conferences like the ABA Tech Show are prime opportunities to place a scratch-n-sniff sticker on your name label. What better way to introduce yourself than to ask “would you like to smell my brand?”
  • Smell Emanation Optimization. Luckily, we’ve posted on this issue before in Key Olfactory Considerations for Your Practice . Reread that post now so you have a better idea about incorporating smell into your practice and what smells work best in specific practice areas.
  • Affiliate Income. With a renewed interest in affiliate income sources, scratch-n-sniff offers near limitless possibilities to affiliate with various vendors. Combined with GPS technology, you can upsell various local vendors, such as Cinn-a-Bon, Walgreen’s, or PayDay Loans.
  • Ethics. Because scratch-n-sniff is not yet a cloud-based product, ethical considerations apply. For instance, if you send correspondence to the court on “citrus lemon joy” scratch-n-sniff letterhead, is it ethical to copy the correspondence to counsel without the scent? Or would it be appropriate to include premium scents such as “boiled cabbage,” “methane,” or “rainy day wool?”

Remember: start simple. Branding is about the full sensory experience and how clients and others feel about your firm or work product. If you fart in front of a client, the unexpected noise distracts from building a positive brand image. If you fart on opposing party’s documents, however, the lingering smell may settle the case. Got it? But we recommend a more professional approach that is expected to make an appearance at next year’s ABA Tech Show: scratch-n-sniff bates stamping. Total awesomeness.

This post originally appeared on the website Big Legal Brain. Big Legal Brain is now a regular column on Bitter Lawyer.

C. Hank Peters ("Chank") is an attorney whose background includes a rural, small-town, solo practice in Minnesota. He uses his practice experience from the late 1970s to advise attorneys who want to establish a lean and client-focused legal practice. He is one of a few legal marketing attorneys online and remains the inspiration for the website Big Legal Brain.

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