It seems the business world runs on email and messaging these days. Emails and text messages are great for quick communication. But when your inbox is flooded each day with dozens, or even hundreds, of emails, it’s easy for a message to get lost.
Handwritten messages, though, are far less likely to be overlooked. A heartfelt, hand penned missive can deliver an impactful message in a way that email cannot. But many people dismiss them as time-consuming and old-fashioned.
They may seem old-fashioned but handwritten messages can help you build your business and set you apart from the competition. There are many ways to use handwritten notes, cards and letters to build your business.
Write a Thank You Note
Thank-you notes are probably the most common and the first that come to most people’s mind. A hand-written thank-you note can be powerful and memorable. When should you send one? Some appropriate occasions for thank-you notes would be:
Following a purchase from your company
Following a meeting or event where someone took time out of their schedule to help you, give you advice, or listened to your proposal or presentation.
After receiving a gift from someone.
After receiving a referral or recommendation helpful to your business.
Write a Congratulatory Note
Piggybacking closely on the handwritten thank-you note is the congratulatory note. Who doesn’t like to have their accomplishments noticed?
When an employee, a colleague, a competitor, a prospect or a client marks an achievement, a milestone, an award, a promotion, a new position, or is the subject of a nice article or news feature, let them know you’ve noticed their hard work or good fortune by penning a personal message of congratulations. And yes, I did say competitor. To be able to congratulate your competitor’s successes speaks volumes to the type of leader you are—and clearly you’re a leader if you’re employing the power of the handwritten note.
Send a Personalized Holiday Greeting
Another excellent opportunity to send a handwritten greeting is for holidays, birthdays or other special occasions. Rather than the usual pre-printed corporate holiday greetings, take a few moments—at least for your best clients—to write a short personalized message. In a larger company, it may not be practical for the president to pen all these special occasion greetings, but if they are divided up among staff members who have worked with the customers, it is definitely a do-able proposition.
The same for birthdays, weddings, or other special personal events. Everyone likes to be remembered on their birthday (even if we don’t want to be reminded we are getting older), and it demonstrates that not only do you care about your clients, but you know them well enough to keep track of their birthdays.
One final way to really make an impression with a handwritten message is to send a letter of introduction to prospects or new clients. Prospects may be so busy and receive so many different messages that it’s easy to ignore an email or choose not to take a call, but there are few who will ignore a personal, handwritten letter.
Now that you know when to send handwritten messages, here are a few tips about how to send them for maximum impact.
Don’t overdo it. If you send everyone a handwritten message for everything all the time, you’re not only going to run out of time for your other work duties, but it will dilute their impact. If you want to make a regular practice of handwritten messages, set aside a certain amount of time each week and choose your recipients with care. Your messages should have a purpose. Writing notes for the sake of writing notes is not necessarily a productive activity.
Don’t over think it. You don’t need expensive stationery or flowery wording. The note should fit your personality and fit the purpose. Whether it’s letterhead, a postcard or a greeting card, it’s about the thought and the message, not making a “statement.”
Write naturally. Don’t create scripted notes that don’t sound like you. Relying on scripted or templated messages often end up sounding stilted and unnatural. There is nothing wrong with having an idea book with sample messages, but don’t copy them word for word.
Don’t force it. Sending handwritten notes should not be a job requirement. Just as you would send them when you find it appropriate, allow your employees to send notes at their discretion.
Actually write the note. Handwritten actually means handwritten. Don’t “write” them on the computer, using a fake handwriting font. If handwritten messages aren’t your thing or you don’t have time for it, it’s better not to do it than to turn it into just another marketing ploy. Your customers will see right through that.
Handwritten messages can be an inexpensive and effective way to strengthen employee relationships, build client relationships and create goodwill for your business. Have you tried using handwritten messages, or is there another creative way you’ve communicated with your clients? I would love to hear what’s worked for you. Leave me a message in the comments below.