Old School Marketing: When Real Mail Beats Email

I recently got the strangest thing in the mail. Real mail, not that virtual stuff that rolls in hour after hour. The kind of mail a guy in a uniform delivers to my little locked box. It was a square envelope with an handwritten address. “Looks like you’ve been invited to something,” my husband said as he handed over the mysterious missive.

Normally, I put the mail aside to open when I’m done working but I couldn’t resist the pull of this unknown envelope. I opened it and was incredibly surprised to find a handwritten thank you card; not for a gift I’d sent, but for becoming a paid member of an online support group. Wow. I’ve received many email thank yous but the fact that this woman took the time to look up my address, write out the card, find a stamp and mail it to me was amazing. So amazing that I still remember that card and felt the need to tell all of you about it.

That’s the power of a personal, postal message.

There are two ways to use handwritten notes; to contact current customers and to introduce yourself to potential customers and partners.

The Handwritten Add-In

If your business involves shipping items to customers, adding a handwritten note to their first box will go a long way toward securing their loyalty. If you’re an artist, add a couple of blank cards with your art on the front and store address on the back so your customer can send out her own handwritten note. (Which doubles as advertising for your business!)

If you can make that card saveable, that's even better. If your card is also a recipe, a bookmark or an instruction sheet, the customer is more likely to hang on to it and think of you each time they pick it up and use it.

The Handwritten Hello

A personal, handwritten letter is also an excellent way to reach out and say hello to a potential customer or partner. Did you exchange business cards with someone new at a conference or craft fair? Instead of contacting them by email or on Facebook take the time to write a letter instead. Chances are you’ll be the only person to go that route and that’s going to make you memorable.

Sending a handwritten note is an especially effect way to reach sought-after, influential people because they’ll truly appreciate the time and effort it took versus firing off a quick email.

The one thing you don’t want to do is make your handwritten note sound like a sales pitch. Compliment the person you’re writing to. Congratulate them on an achievement or say how much you like their recent post / book / video / speech. I’m not saying you should be insincere. Do your homework before you write and only contact people you’re truly interested in. Write a line or two about yourself then end with a clear statement of what you want to happen next.

  • I’d like to stop by your store and show you my new jewelry line.
  • Would you be available for an interview?
  • I’d like to meet with you to discuss putting my soaps in your gift baskets.

Then say you’ll follow up by phone or email. Here’s why; because as much as they’ll appreciate your handwritten note, expecting them to reply that way is unreasonable in 2015. You can give them your phone number and email address but it’s up to you to follow up in a way that makes it easy for them to respond.

  • I’ll email you next week to follow-up.

I saw several of you shiver just then. Really. I have that ability to see through the net. It’s scary putting yourself out there like that but the worst that can happen is they’ll ignore you. The best that can happen is you’ll make a new friend that changes your business.

I also see a group of you looking at your phones thinking, “I don’t have time for this.” True, you don’t. But that’s what makes letter writing so special. And here’s the real kicker, if you want your business to grow, you need to spend at least 40% of your time actively marketing your business. Experts say that number should be closer to 60% but I’m going to give you a break since most of you need time to create the products you sell.

Handwritten Homework

Here’s your assignment for the week. Send out at least one handwritten note to an influencer or potential partner. Could be a local business owner, a member of the media, a celebrity or the head of the PTA. Just pick someone with a public mailing address and go for it.

Be accountable. Leave a comment stating your intentions. You don't have to announce the person’s name, just tell us what they do and how you plan to approach them. We’re stronger together, so let’s all learn from each other.

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