On a Personal Note
I know the articles you normally read here are about mass-produced mailings — letters "personalized" using variable data printing and mailed in the hundreds of thousands. Even millions.
What I'm about to share is a reminder about the value of sending mail on a much smaller scale.
When was the last time you wrote a personal note to a friend, colleague or CUSTOMER?
Please submit a comment below. Or email me.
I'm betting big bucks I won't hear from many because most of you haven't written a personal letter or sent a postcard to anyone in months. Maybe years.
Shame on you. Truly personal correspondence is a powerful tool for solidifying relationships — both personal and professional. It has sticking power. I know from experience.
Framed and hanging on my office wall are handwritten notes — some over 20 years old — from William Stafford, the world-famous poet; Bill Brondell, my favorite college professor; and two of direct marketing's all-time copywriting greats — Bob Stone and Joan Throckmorton. Their words were and still are words of encouragement for this writer. The fact they took the time to handwrite, stamp and mail them to me reminds me that my writing career mattered enough for them to comment.
Now, here's why I think this is potentially important for you, personally and professionally. Genuinely personal correspondence so seldom appears in mailboxes anymore that when it does, it musters immediate attention, builds anticipation, and provides a highly memorable opportunity to say many things. Starting with "Thank you." Or "Ooops-I'm-sorry." "Hello" and "how are you?" "Welcome back." "I appreciate your business." "Where have you been?" "You matter to me because ..." and dozens of other messages that matter.
I recently was heartened to discover a resurgence in the appreciation of handwritten correspondence among young DM professionals. Case in point:
A couple of months ago I wrote a short congratulatory note to Chris Lakin, a sharp direct marketer under the age of 30 whose job title is Social Media Advisor. Chris was recently named the Kansas City DMA's 2011 Young Direct Marketer of the Year. Chris responded to my note with a handwritten note of his own and a P.S. that said, "I was so inspired by your note, I got some fancy stationery of my own. Handwritten notes are the best." And this comes from someone whose job is focused on the likes of texting, Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and FourSquare.
Here's the really neat part: I know for a fact Chris has been putting that stationery to use. After a recent meeting that took a flurry of emails to schedule, Chris followed up after the meeting with a handwritten note thanking me for my time and ideas. And I assume I'm not the only person hearing from Chris.
What about you? When was the last time you thanked a friend, colleague, customer or family member?
It's a way to set yourself — and your company — apart.
And while you're at it, consider the value of writing a letter to (1) a prospective client whose business YOU DIDN'T LAND thanking her for the opportunity, (2) a disappointed customer whose order was filled incorrectly, (3) the accounts payable person who promptly follows up whenever you call about an unpaid invoice, (4) the colleague OR COMPETITOR who just received an award and has the potential of referring you business, or (5) the former boss who taught you to look for solutions instead of whining about problems — a skill that has served you well as you built your career.
I'll close with a challenge. Take 15 minutes within the 24 hours to write and mail a short note to a client gone dormant or a mentor you've never thanked. I can almost guarantee good things will come of it.
Pat Friesen writes for direct mail, email, blogs, catalogs, the Web and other direct response media. She's also a sought-after copy coach, workshop presenter and columnist for Target Marketing magazine. Contact Pat at (913) 341-1211 and email@example.com.