The power of a hand-written note

Recently I’ve prepared and delivered a bunch of hand-written cards to celebrate Jewish New Year. This is nothing new of course. It’s rather a traditional custom, even considered antiquated by some.

I mean- why go through all the trouble of going to the shop, buying a printed card, writing a personal note, mailing it and waiting for the recipient to respond?

I think that most people underestimate the power of personalization. It’s true that in today’s work this is common knowledge, and every marketer knows that to achieve maximum impact she should try to personalize the message to the client. But how personal does and email or text message feels? My guess is that most of us get these “Happy holiday” emails now and then, and just gaze at them and delete. The truth is that people understand the effort you’ve put into delivering them an actual, physical object. Even if it’s just a card, and even if it just says “Thank You”, it’s much more meaningful than any form of electronic correspondence. More than what is written in the note, it actually says to the recipient- “I’ve been thinking of you”. And that is greatly appreciated.

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In addition, there is something about taking the counter-intuitive approach and going old-school (read a previous post I’ve written about this here). People tend to like nostalgic stuff, and this evokes deep emotions and instantly connects them to their childhood (if they are above a certain age and still remember a non-digital existence).  And let’s not forget the element of surprise. Most of us don’t expect to receive a personal note by snail-mail, and the positive surprise (face it- most of the stuff we get in our actual mailbox are nuisance at best, and sometimes really annoying stuff like fines and payment requests).

How do I know this? To start with, I hate receiving non-personal correspondence, especially digital one. Secondly, I know because the people that were lucky enough to have received my notes were very grateful and thanked me, and most remembered it months later. And lastly- there is some academic research that proves that handwritten notes (especially Thank you notes) impact the wellbeing of both the recipient and the sender (see here).

I think this is true for our personal as well as our professional lives. In any business transaction you can gain so much by showing genuine attention to the other side. And thanking someone after an engagement (successful delivery, conclusion of a contract) can go a long way. Especially in the field of marketing, you can leverage this method and achieve amazing results- remember, your target audience get tons of unsolicited emails, text messages and SPAM (even if they have consented to it GDPR-wise). But if you want to make an impact- consider the personal approach.

To show even greater appreciation, you can try delivering the note by hand. I’ve done so on several occasions (in order to make sure some of these will make it on time before the holiday, as Israeli mail services are notoriously slow) and can testify that people are surprise at first when you hand them an envelope, then when they open it, their faces lit and they smile a genuine, thankful smile back at you.   

Being genuine and delivering happiness always works.

Try it (Don’t forget to mail it though) 

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And write to me and tell me how you felt.

Shanna Tova to us all!

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