Does anyone remember a similar experience growing up as I did where my Mom insisted, I write thank you notes to family and friends for gifts from unique events like birthdays, holidays and graduations? Like many, the older I get, the smarter I realize my parents were! Most everyone I have ever admired, in business and personally, have utilized handwritten notes to make an impact as a "thank you" and build out their personal brand.
Business leaders like Jack Welch, Doug Conant and several of my mentors serving on my “Personal Board of Directors” have practiced the discipline and kindness in sending out handwritten notes, cards, etc. I have had good success and enjoyed making a positive and memorable impact on clients, business associates, and personal friends through the consistent and disciplined approach to utilizing this powerful tool.
I would like to share out some headlines with you on why they work, tips on executing, and specific success stories in the hope that you will embrace this practice in both your personal and business worlds. And promise to “Be sincere, be brief, and be seated!” (Source: Franklin D. Roosevelt)
Why Handwritten Notes Work Well (Hint...Direct Mail)
Handwritten notes are very personal and serve as an unexpected gift one rarely receives. I once read a study that three out of one hundred sales professionals use this channel to connect. These notes are tangible/tactile items that people tend to save for years, in fact I have a note from my CEO sent 20+ years ago in my top desk drawer.
Physical notes, like Direct Mail in general break through the clutter of messages people see daily. The average person receives 121 emails per day, and one of my clients once shared that she received 487 emails on a day out of the office! USPS reported that an average American household receives 454 pieces of mail every year. How's that for comparison?
As marketers, it is important to note, that handwritten notes have a 98% open rate (Source: Scribeless) and 87% of Millennials value the tangible touch and feel of direct mail more than alternative forms of communication (Source: Moving Targets). Gone are the concerns around deliverability, viewability and reach that we see with most digital communication.
Handwritten Notes Results Attainment
I once sent a congratulation note to a person who changed jobs and it started the process to $3Million+ in business, an 84,444,333% ROI on an inexpensive card! Another business project landed $186K upon receipt of a package sent to CEO with a handwritten note attached. The Executive Assistant shared that they get numerous proposals and that note stood out and made her pass it along. I have also sent thank you notes to 8-10 team members of a client after every event they placed with me. I received great feedback from the VP and others that no other vendor did anything similar.
The response to the handwritten mail that I have sent is always memorable. I once sent a card to an associate who worked at the hotel I often visited after he lost a family member. His response back to me…”I’ll remember you from the grave!”. I sent a handwritten thank you note to a 26-year-old friend after attending a function at his house. He shared out that was the first time he had ever received one!
Direct Mail has an opportunity to be personal and memorable in both business and personal scenarios. It is an artform that needs to be learned and if you are consistent, you will reap the rewards of putting a smile on someone’s face and know that you have made a difference.
Did you know that our brains are wired to process tangible items and messaging more effectively when compared to how we process digital messaging? Writer Roger Dooley stated it best, direct mail is “easier to process mentally” and uses 21% less cognitive effort than digital messaging. This leads to longer life of the physical piece, improved recall and in business the highest response rate to any marketing channel.
Tips on Executing Handwritten Note Campaigns
Again, it is a discipline to be learned and followed on a consistent basis. For a personal impact, follow through on notes immediately or within a day or so. The best thing I have found is to keep stamps, writing pens, and a variety of cards for many occasions in your top desk drawer. I keep blank notes, personal stationary, sympathy cards, congratulatory cards, and cards with inspiring quotes.
Use a dark, thick point pen that really stands out and work on penmanship! Make a goal to send out 3-5 notes per week. Soon, it will become a habit that you can’t live without. In sales, share out with other channel communication as part of a 360 approach; however, I am sure you will get best feedback from the handwritten note.
In Marketing, you also want to make sure you are leveraging recency and getting in front of your prospects and customers while they are still thinking about you. Nurturing those that are interested in your brand is simple with an always-on Direct Mail Retargeting Program. As it is a great way to ensure you are staying in front of your known and unknown website browsers.
*Source: Make Marketing Work for Every Generation: Highlights from the USPS Generational Research Report
If you want to stand out, make an impact, and develop long-term business and personal relationships, I strongly advise you to use handwritten notes and Direct Mail. It will demonstrate that you took more time to reach out and you’ll be more memorable.