5 Reasons Why Handwritten Notes Are Powerful

Technology is omnipresent in our lives. We live on our phones, use laptops to do work, and communicate through social media. But there’s an impact that can be made through a handwritten note that simply can’t be created with digital communication.Research shows that up to 100 instant messages can be sent by one person alone each day, with corporate email and text accounts receiving a massive amount of messages each and every day.

We are so used to this daily deluge that we quickly devalue the meaning behind a quick “thank-you” or “hello” in our inboxes. Receiving and reading so many messages can sometimes be overwhelming, and a lot of what is said is quickly forgotten.

It often seems like the world has gone almost entirely paperless – but there are still quite a few instances when it’s best to employ a handwritten letter when communicating with donors or clients.

Still not convinced? Let’s take a look at five compelling reasons why handwritten notes are powerful.

 

I Want to Discuss Postalgia’s Handwritten Note Service

 

1. More personal and thoughtful than emails or text messages

Although emails are quicker, they’re impersonal. When you handwrite a note to someone, it’s more thoughtful than an email and even artful – each letter is unique.

A handwritten personal note is an excellent way to show someone you care about them. The process of writing something down in cursive, then sending that note to another person in physical form prompts the recipient to appreciate the words on the page – and how much thought you put into the interaction.

A handwritten note to say thank you demonstrates a deeper investment than just texting someone or emailing them, which can help to strengthen a personal connection. It takes time, effort and money to buy paper, stamps etc., but the appreciation you receive in return will be greater – if done well.

 

2. Handwritten letters are not deleted

The permanence of handwritten messages is a big advantage. The physical nature makes them a powerful tool – more engaging and easier to read than electronic ones.

In today’s world, where most of our communications disappear into a black hole of our inboxes, we all realize the importance of preserving items that are important. A handwritten card or letter can be stashed away in a memory box or kept as something to remember for years to come – more so than an electronic message that may just stay unread if it isn’t opened right away.

Sure, it is true that handwritten follow-up letters take a lot more effort than email or text messaging, but it is definitely worth the extra effort. Personal notes are more intimate and have a greater impact on your clients.

 

3. Handwritten notes are authentic

Handwritten thank you notes are better at conveying genuine feelings and intentions. Text messages often come with a certain sense of insincerity. The sender can revise their message many times before sending it out for everyone else to see.

The ability to edit text messages can lead them to feel fake and inauthentic. Handwritten letters, however, preserve the true intent of your message without being edited before sending it off.

 

4. Letters (with a stamp) stand out

The handwritten note is fairly rare these days. When people receive a letter or card in the mail, they know it’s important. If you received a hand-addressed letter in the mail, would your first instinct be to throw it straight into the garbage? Unlikely.

The assumption is that whoever sent this particular note took the time (and care) to put what they have to say in writing. So even if the recipient doesn’t initially recognize the sender, they will open up that envelope for sure.

A handwritten note can serve as a powerful reminder of the interaction – a donation, a sale, even a conversation – that prompted the thank-you in the first place. It’s like refreshing your customer’s memory every time they receive a handwritten note.

 

5. Handwritten notes make your organization look professional

Handwritten notes go a long way in making you look like an organized professional. People will be impressed by your attention to detail and the effort that went into sending them something personal, even if it’s a follow-up related to a business transaction.It also takes planning and organization to draft the letter, put it into an envelope and send it off with a stamp. Your customer will know that you took the time and effort to get that letter to them.

You don’t have to pen handwritten notes yourself

Thanks to modern technology, you don’t have to spend your precious time handwriting notes for the same effect. Postalgia’s robots create handwritten pieces at scale for every organization’s size and budget. Customize your messages using your own writing style choice, with what you want to say and how you want to say it. We use genuine ink on paper and your unique design to ensure you stand out.

Let Postalgia write your notes for you!

Postalgia makes it so easy to send off personalized thank you cards with just a few simple steps:

Customize your design

Every aspect of your postcard or note, including the graphics and layout, is unique to you. We can even help create a brand new design if you need one.We print all images on a full-color, digital press. All cards and letters come with custom printing – logos, letterheads, and/or photographs.

See Postalgia’s Handwritten examples HERE

 

Choose your handwriting

Pick the style and ink color that best suits you and helps to convey your message more authentically. But, the customization doesn’t stop there. Choose from one of our dozens of handwriting styles, or write in your own handwriting. We offer handwriting styles ranging from neat to messy, from professional print to artistic script.

To write in your handwriting, all you will need to do is print off and fill out our handwriting capture form and send in a scan or clear photo of the form back to our team.

Craft your message

Personalize your note with the recipient’s name by carefully selecting from nearly limitless options. These messages are then inserted right into your letter.With Postalgia, there is no limit on how many variable fields you can use in your message; personalize the recipient name, the PS, or every single word.

It’s as easy as populating a spreadsheet with your variable fields – just like you would do with any mail merge – and our robots will swap in your variables for you. The result is a flawlessly crafted, personalized message to your recipient.

 

Print envelopes, fold stamps, and mail

We do everything for you – so you can concentrate on building your non-profit!

 

Make handwritten notes your competitive advantage

It’s time to integrate more personal and thoughtful communications with handwritten notes to stand out in a world of unlimited, on-demand communication channels that prioritize convenience over quality.

You can make handwritten notes your competitive advantage in only a few steps. Deepen your relationships and grow your business right now with the help of Postalgia.

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Tips for Effective Storytelling for Nonprofits

INTRODUCTION

Nonprofit storytelling is an essential skill to have to maintain a successful nonprofit organization. Storytelling informs your donors about how their donations are being spent and who their donations affect.

This article provides 4 essential tips to effective storytelling. You will learn how and why it is important to be intentional, how to evoke emotion and empathy, how to initiate connections, and the importance of saying thank you to your donors through storytelling.

 

1. BE INTENTIONAL

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Organization is key to effective storytelling. The first thing you want to do is create a plan for the story you want to tell. Begin by setting your goals on what you want to communicate with your audience. Next figure out the Who, What, Where, When, Why , and How of your story. Once you have a proper outline figured out, you will find it much easier to tell the story.

Be intentional about how much detail you share by keeping content short and attention grabbing. Try to only include important facts that are vital to the story. Good storytelling keeps the audience interested by finding a suitable balance between the story’s length, timing, and authentic content.

 

 

2. EVOKE EMOTION AND EMPATHY

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Keeping in mind that it is important to be intentional with the details you share, choose specific facts to build your story that will evoke emotion and empathy. Your aim is to help your donors feel personally connected to the cause, and you can do that by using the names and photos of those in your story. Videos are also a great tool in effective storytelling because it quickly visualizes and humanizes the story.

There are many ways to evoke emotion and empathy in storytelling, and this short article provides 4 examples of effective nonprofit storytelling.

 

 

3. INITIATE CONNECTIONS

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A key element of effective nonprofit storytelling is initiating connections between the story and the audience. Once the story has been told and donors become emotionally invested, you can connect them even further by explaining how their donations impact the cause. Let your audience know specifically where donations go and how they are used.

This is where you can point out how change will happen and why it matters. To compliment your story, visual aids can be a helpful tool that highlight these facts. Many Nonprofits use infographics as an effective storytelling tool. Infographics can be displayed on a variety of mediums from social media platforms to printed media.

 

 

4. CLOSE  WITH A MEANINGFUL ‘THANK YOU’

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Don’t forget about gratitude! Always remember to appreciate your donors and say thank you. Acknowledging the efforts of your donors is another key element specific to effective nonprofit storytelling. A good thank you has the ability to seal the connection your story made and builds personal relationships with donors to increase donor loyalty.

 

 

CONCLUSION

To review, always begin with a plan where you organize your facts of Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. It is important to be intentional in your storytelling to maintain the interest and attention of viewers. Evoke emotion and empathy by providing specific details about those in the story. Things like names, photos, and videos allow donors to see the story at a personal level. Create connections between the viewer and story by explaining how donations directly affect the cause. Infographics are a great tool to put a focus on this information. Perhaps the most important element of effective nonprofit storytelling is wrapping things up with a thank you. Acknowledgment goes a long way!

 

BONUS TIP

Consistency is key! Make sure to update your donors often about how their donations are impacting the cause. Monthly impact reports, newsletters, and handwritten notes are great tools that can be personalized and sent directly to your donors. Storytelling is only one way to Increase Donor Loyalty with our Best Practices.

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How to Win Donation Dollars

Donations are the lifeblood for non-profits, charities and political parties. The relationships you build with your donors today make a world of difference for future donations. That’s why it is essential for you to focus on developing those essential relationships in order to keep funds flowing into your organization. In this post, we offer a few key steps you can take to build better, stronger relationships with donors so that they open their hearts and their wallets for your cause.

Show Supporters How You’re Using Their Donation Dollars

People like to see the results of their efforts, and this certainly applies to donations. By providing details on how donations are making a difference, you are highlighting the good work your organization is doing. At the same time, sharing this information lets your donors know their funds are being spent on legitimate purposes. It makes them feel better about giving and makes them more likely to give the next time you ask them for their help.

You can show them their dollars in action with photographs, videos, brochures, and more. You can even invite major donors to the location where you’re doing your work so they can see what is happening on the ground. Whether you’re gathering building supplies, food, clothing, toys for children, school supplies, etc. they can see you working to gather and distribute the gifts where they will do the most good.

Be Transparent with Spending Reports

This is an important add-on to the previous tip. Sadly, the actions of a few unscrupulous charities and non-profits have subjected all organizations to additional scrutiny. This is especially true among larger donors. And if you’re interested in winning bigger donation dollars to support your cause, you’re going to have to go after the big fish.

The best way to do that is through transparency in your financial disclosures. The easier you make it for people to see how and where the money is spent – not just on good work, but line items such as administrative costs and executive compensation – the more likely they are to donate to your cause. That is, as long as you are spending an appropriate amount of money on the cause at hand rather than oversight and administrative expenses. People want to know their money is going to support a cause and not to create a lifestyle for those at the top of the organization.

Ask for Monthly Gifts and Automate the Giving Process

As we noted in this post, most donors only give once, which can create a cashflow challenge. Automated giving is a great way to ensure a steady flow of money coming in to help you meet your organizational goals. It allows donors to identify an amount of money that works with their budgets and give that amount month after month. More importantly, it is effortless giving on their part.

The easier you make it for people to donate to your organization or cause, the more likely people are to actively donate. Especially if it is a cause they believe in or one that supports their own beliefs about the world.

Create Deadlines to Generate Sense of Urgency

This doesn’t mean creating false deadlines and making things up. What this does mean is to create specific goals for your charitable works.

For instance, if your non-profit is dedicated to building tiny homes for homeless vets, you might have a goal of 50 percent completion prior to the first day of fall and 100 percent completion by the first day of winter. This will help keep more vets off the street once bitter cold temperatures set in.

You need the funds to make this happen well in advance of the goal dates. Create a sense of urgency among your donors by citing statistics about the cold and its impact on the homeless, how veterans are disproportionately represented within the homeless community, and how you need $XXXXX by August 1 and an additional $XXXXX by October 1 to meet these goals for your organization.

Solicit Matching Donations

This is where building relationships, particularly relationships with big businesses, entrepreneurs, and “mega” donors in your community can help. It’s a great way to encourage small-dollar donors to give so that their smaller gifts to your cause can be matched to create even larger gifts.

As we advise here, never neglect to remind donors of all dollar amounts that their gifts are important. Without the smaller donations, bigger things cannot happen within your organization. The more you drive that point home to donors, the larger your pile of donation dollars has the potential to grow. Additionally, never neglect to thank your donors, no matter how larger or small the donation.

Tell One Person’s Story, Not A Group’s

Sometimes, a little psychology can help make a big impact. While your non-profit or charity is undoubtedly creating a positive impact for many, focusing on an individual can help increase donations. This is referred to as the identified victim effect, which is the tendency to provide more help to a specific individual rather than a broader, nameless or generic group of individuals. This effect implies that concentrating on individuals instead of bigger groups or statistics would drive more donations.

Researchers have confirmed that scenarios focused on a single person’s narrative produced more donations than those focusing on a greater number of unidentified individuals. In a study performed by University of Pennsylvania marketing professor Deborah Small and her colleagues argue that “spontaneous affective reactions” frequently inspire charitable donations. To put it another way, donors are more inclined to contribute based on their emotions rather than reasoning. And stories that centre on the misfortune of a single person appear to have a larger emotional impact.

It makes sense. Your supporters, like all people, are hardwired to emotionally connect with others. The most effective approach to motivate them is to introduce them to individuals they can relate to. So make use of this narrative potential in your messages: highlight individual stories that lend a face to your cause in all of your appeals.

Send Handwritten Thank-You Notes for Their Donations

Lastly, showing gratitude is an important first step toward securing future funds from those who have given to your cause. As you can guess, our viewpoint is pretty clear: the standard typed form letter is way too impersonal and formal. A handwritten note stands out from the crowd of junk mail littering your donors’ mailboxes.

As we outline here, handwritten thank-you notes are more likely to be read by the people they were intended for. Plus, they carry more meaning for the recipients. Your donors are far more likely to feel appreciated when receiving handwritten notes. Something they will remember the next time your organization reaches out for funds.

Appreciation and communication are essential, which is why handwritten notes work best. Consider sending out handwritten donation letters and thank-you notes to donors to see what a difference it can make to your entire organization.

Wrapping Up

Donations keep your non-profit or charity going. If you want to build a successful organization and keep funds flowing in, it’s essential that you focus on cultivating those relationships with your donors today so they can feel appreciated and motivated enough to open their hearts (and wallets) for your cause.

It may seem like an intimidating task at first, but by soliciting matching donations, highlighting individual stories (not just statistics), writing thank-you notes by hand, showing gratitude for every donation – no matter how large or small – and telling one person’s story instead of a group’s narrative, you are well positioned to steadily grow your donations. With these simple steps, you’ll be well on your way towards achieving, and even exceeding, your annual fundraising goals.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

5 Easy Ways To Market Your Small Business Using Handwritten Notes

Handwritten notes are a tried-and-true method of communicating with new or prospective clients. Writing a customized handwritten message demonstrates there is a person behind the scenes at the heart of your business.

Because personalized, handwritten messages are a forgotten craft, they are very effective. Consider: when was the last time you received a handwritten letter instead of an email or a Facebook message? Those posts may be highly efficient, but a handwritten card transcends the transitory nature of our digital inboxes and provides something substantial and meaningful.

Let’s take a look at some fantastic ways you may utilize handwritten notes to promote and develop your small business.

Thank Them For Their Business

It is important to start with the fundamentals. Thanking your new customers or clients for their business is a simple gesture that shows them that you appreciate their decision to choose your company.

A thank-you note should convey this sentiment in writing, using a pen and paper (and even a robot!) instead of an electronic form of communication. Your gratitude can go a long way in developing a lasting relationship with your customer. As we outline in this article, make sure you send your thank-you note in a timely manner; otherwise, your customer may forget about the transaction (and you).

Send Personalized Birthday Cards

What could be a more unique and personalized opportunity to reach out to your customer than to commemorate their birthday? Recognizing their birthday by sending them a handwritten note will help create familiarity with your clientele, which can later translate into a deeper, long-term relationship.

Sure it may take a little extra effort, but it’s worth it to make your customer feel appreciated. Too few businesses send handwritten cards, let alone cards that aren’t directly related to a sales transaction. So you are sure to stand out by following this approach.

To keep track of information specific to each customer such as birthdays, choose a reputable Customer Relationship Management platform to help automate this process. By using a CRM, you can keep all customer contact information in a single place so that you can easily send out birthdays and other critical time-sensitive messages to your customers.

Send a Note After a Networking Event

Regular networking is excellent, but incorporating a strong follow-up is even better. When you meet someone at an event, make sure you send that person a quick note a few days afterward, which will reinforce your connection.

This approach is an easy way to connect with someone who may not necessarily realize that you can add value to their business while developing a deeper relationship with them than the initial (and often casual or shallow) connection made through the networking event.

They will also appreciate that you took the time to continue a conversation in another way. A handwritten note will help them remember you and your company when they eventually need products or services, allowing you to gain even more value from networking.

Write a Handwritten Note of Encouragement

We all go through tough or challenging times. So when someone reaches out to you during a particularly difficult (or otherwise notable) situation, you are sure to remember it. If you notice someone standing out – for whatever reason – be sure to send them a note of encouragement. This gesture will let the person know that their actions haven’t gone unnoticed and are appreciated by others, including you.

When someone is outwardly positive, acts with integrity, or stands tall in the face of a challenge, you should use that opportunity to let them know that they aren’t alone. Sending a personalized, handwritten note or card to a person who has demonstrated confidence or positivity can greatly influence the way they view themselves, their business – and you.

Prospect A New Target Area

We’ve talked about prospecting elsewhere on this blog. When you are looking to build your business in a new territory, you have to get the attention of potential local customers. What better way to do that than with a personal note or card?

Again, this is an opportunity for you to stand out from other potential competitors who haven’t taken the time to create and send a handwritten note to people who live or work locally. This handwritten letter should include helpful information about your business, how you will be of benefit to them, and a brief description of your products or services.

A handwritten letter to local businesses or households is an excellent opportunity for you to introduce your business to influential community members who can help you establish relationships with even larger networks of neighbourhood people and businesses.

Get Started Today

These are just a few ideas on how to market your business to new or potential customers. As we have seen with so many of our clients, a handwritten card can be an effective way to continue building strong relationships with current customers and prospects alike.

If you’re looking for more ideas on how to market your business, contact us today. We’ll be happy to discuss what we can do for you to help grow and expand your customer base.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

Four Handwritten Letters From History That Had A Big Impact

Around these parts, we are big believers in the power of the written word. In fact, our whole business model centres on the belief that handwritten letters can change your business, non-profit or charity. Now, in the age of email, text messages and 140-character tweets, the idea of letters having a significant impact on issues of the day might seem quaint. But throughout history, correspondence has been a powerful means for shifting public opinion and influencing world events.

From the Declaration of Independence to Guy Fawkes being ratted out via a letter sent by Lord Monteagle, there is no shortage of notable examples from the last few centuries. Here are four examples where letters had a surprising impact on history.

Alexander Hamilton Delivers America’s First Sex Scandal

If you’ve seen the award-winning play Hamilton, you know that the life of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton wasn’t without scandal. But Hamilton might have eventually become the President of the United States if it wasn’t for a blackmail plot that went public.

According to Written in History: Letters that Changed the World, the ongoing love affair between Hamilton and his married lover Maria Reynolds was discovered by Reynolds’ husband, James. Rather than challenging Hamilton to a duel – which was a common way to settle scores in those days – Reynolds sent a series of letters blackmailing Hamilton, saying he would implicate Hamilton in a forgery scheme Reynolds was embroiled in.

As Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton had to maintain a high level of integrity if he were to remain in his role. So he has no choice but to privately share the letters as proof that he has no involvement in the forgery. Sadly for Hamilton, the letters were leaked to the public by political rival Thomas Jefferson, who used the letters to destroy Hamilton’s reputation – ending Hamilton’s plans for higher office.

Abraham Lincoln Gets Some Life-Saving Advice On His Beard

As one letter sinks the ambitions of one Presidential hopeful, another brought those ambitions to life. The 16th US President Abraham Lincoln has one of the more memorable faces in US history, thanks mainly to his signature beard. But it was an 11-year old girl that prompted Lincoln to grow the beard in the first place – which had a major impact on his political career.

According to reports from that time, Lincoln had a bit of an image problem. In 1860, the Houston Telegraph wrote that the Lincoln was “the leanest, lankiest, most ungainly mass of legs, arms, and hatchet face ever strung upon a single frame.” The Charleston Mercury deemed him a “horrid-looking wretch.”

Enter little Grace Bedell, who wrote to Lincoln with some style advice: “…if you let your whiskers grow…you would look a great deal better for your face is so thin. All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you and then you would be President.” He won the presidency without the beard, but Lincoln decided to grow one anyway, possibly to differentiate himself from his predecessors.

On his journey to Washington, D.C. for his inauguration on March 4, 1861, Lincoln got word that secessionists in Baltimore were preparing his assassination. He’d been clean-shaven until the previous November, so most of the public hadn’t seen him with his now full beard. His new beard likely served to shield his identity, allowing him to make it safely to the Capitol, where he was sworn in as President.

Four Polish Girl Guides Inform The World About The Holocaust

The horrors of life in Nazi concentration camps during World War II are well known now, but at the time, getting news out of the camps was not only difficult but also potentially fatal. Letters did come in and out, but they were, predictably, filtered by guards. However, four women were able to get some letters out of Ravensbruck and to their relatives.

Wanda Wojtasik, Janina Iwanska, Krystyna Iwanska, and Krystyna Czyz, four Polish Girl Guides who had landed in the camps for their involvement with the Polish Underground, devised the scheme. They were permitted one letter each month, and knowing that SS guards would read everything they wrote, they penned two letters: one in ordinary ink and the other in urine, which dried and became visible only when heated.

One letter alerted her brother to a secret code hidden in the letters. Then they used the invisible “ink” to provide specifics on the medical experiments performed on them, the mass executions, and the women sent to work in the concentration camps’ brothels.
The letters were sent to the Polish resistance first, then to the Vatican, the Red Cross, and the Polish government-in-exile, according to The First News. All four women survived, and their letters were presented as evidence in the Nuremberg trials where 11 Ravensbruck SS guards were sentenced to death.

Nelson Mandela Gives South African PM A Choice

In 1960, under siege by most of the world after 69 Africans were killed during an anti-apartheid demonstration, the government of South Africa withdrew from the Commonwealth to become a Republic. Nelson Mandela organized a conference to discuss the anti-apartheid response. Simon Sebag Montefiore shares that before being imprisoned on Robben Island for 27 years after being charged and convicted of conspiring to overthrow the state, Mandela wrote to South African Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd and offered Verwoerd an ultimatum:

“By…abandoning the repressive and dangerous policies of your Government you may still save our country from economic dislocation and ruin and from civil strife and bitterness.” Mandela laid out the African National Congress’s plans if Verwoerd refused: “Failure by your government to call the Convention makes it imperative for us to launch a full-scale and country-wide campaign for non-co-operation with your Government.”

Verwoerd refused, instead deciding to have Mandela and his ANC allies jailed, tried and imprisoned. This choice made Mandela an even more potent symbol for the anti-apartheid movement across the globe.

Bonus: JFK Sends For Help Via Coconut

John F. Kennedy wasn’t president for long before his assassination, but his legacy is undeniable. His time in office might not have occurred at all if it hadn’t been for a very tiny message carved into the shell of a coconut. On August 2, 1943, Kennedy was at the helm of a patrol boat in the South Pacific. A Japanese destroyer attacked that boat. JFK swam three kilometres to the relative safety of an island, carrying an injured crewmate with him.

When Kennedy and the other survivors recovered and regrouped, they headed off for a larger island, which was mostly deserted. They came across two men from the Solomon Islands. According to the Smithsonian, JFK carved the following message into a coconut shell: “NAURO ISL… COMMANDER… NATIVE KNOWS POS’IT… HE CAN PILOT… 11 ALIVE… NEED SMALL BOAT… KENNEDY.”

Kennedy handed it to the men who swam across Japanese-occupied seas to bring it to the Allies. Kennedy and his crew were saved, and the coconut was the sole memento of his service that he preserved after WWII.

Write A Historical Letter Today

It’s not a simple thing to write a letter that will make its way into the annals of history, but you never know until you try. As we’ve shared on this blog, handwritten letters can have a big impact on your target audience. But who knows? Maybe the next letter you write will be ready 100 years from now.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

How One Company Built A Business With Thank You Notes

You know that feeling when you receive a handwritten thank you note in the mail? It’s like an instant boost of happiness and appreciation for someone who took their time to send you something. Well, one company has taken those feelings and turned them into a business model.

Here at Postalgia, we just love case studies. They aren’t merely a theory on what will work; they are tangible and replicable. We know that handwritten notes work to build customer relationships: we see results with our clients every day. But it’s always nice to see a success story unrelated to the work we do.

And we have a good one for you.

After launching in 2010, a tech accessory company called HEX took a different approach to compete with big players like Michael Kors and Nordstrom. With every customer purchase, they included a handwritten note:

 

Photo via cdransf/Instagram

Every employee played a part. Day after day, they wrote out these thank you notes and popped them into the package before being shipped to the customer. All told, they sent out 13,000 thank you notes.

And HEX isn’t the only successful business using thank you note to grow their customer base. When they first started, tech platform Wufoo had team members send out handwritten personalized notes to thank customers for using their form creation service.

And it wasn’t just the marketing team – even developers were part of the effort. The note was written on fun thank you cards – some even with googly eyes – which perfectly fit Wufoo’s brand.

Of course, sending a thank you note to every customer is a commitment. And we wouldn’t suggest sending 13,000 thank-you notes by hand when there are friendly robots that can do that for you and shops with an incredible team to help make it happen.

But the power of a sincere, handwritten thank-you note is the big takeaway. HEX, Wufoo and thousands of companies like them have leveraged a mix of gratitude, customer appreciation and personalization to create something memorable for their audience.

And how do we know that? Because their customers are sharing these notes. HEX and Wufoo customers were so impressed that they posted pictures of the notes, which spread the word about both companies without each company even being involved. The effort paid dividends beyond just that one customer.

Still not convinced? Challenge accepted.

Check out our blog, where we share 5 reasons why handwritten notes are powerful and 12 ways to use handwritten notes in your sales funnel.

Custom, personalized thank you notes can take your business to the next level. And now is the perfect time to get started. Click here to learn how.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

Six Things to Avoid in a Handwritten Thank You Note

When you receive a handwritten thank-you note from someone, it’s one of the most thoughtful gestures that person could make. It shows that they took time out of their day to write something just for you. The same goes for your clients.

Writing a handwritten thank-you note to clients is a great way to show them how much they mean to your business or organization while creating a deeper personal connection.  Unfortunately, many small business owners often don’t write thank-you notes or cards. Yet studies show that we often underestimate the value of personalized thank-you letters because they aren’t sure where to start or what to include. Our take: it’s a powerful tool you should be using.

If you want to add a personal touch to your business, a handwritten card is a great way to do it.  That being said, there are some things that should be avoided when composing one of these notes. Here are six major pitfalls to avoid when crafting a handwritten thank-you letter.

1. Don’t send a generic thank you

If you decide to send a handwritten note to a client, make sure it’s personalized. Generic messages are impersonal and show that you didn’t take time out of your day to create something for your customer specifically.

It’s easy to personalize a letter if you’re using Contact Relationship Management (CRM) software and even easier with some creativity. Even without using a CRM or spreadsheet program, take time to introduce your customers by name when expressing gratitude for their patronage: they’ll appreciate it! And never forget that spelling is important–accuracy will help maintain trust and avoid offence in this fast-paced world.

2. Don’t be too formal

The thank-you letter is a great way to express gratitude for the time and money donors, customers, or supporters have given. Your message must be both warm and sincere, which can mean different things depending on who the recipient might be. The tone of voice that you use in your note should be friendly and personal.

Keep in mind a friendly tone of voice helps make sure people don’t stop reading after just one sentence, too.  So think about what a note would sound like if it came from an old friend instead of some corporation when crafting yours.

Depending on the culture of your organization, you may have a standard way to address a customer or donor.  Some say “Mr.” or “Ms.” while others may call them by their first name. Avoid guessing at the best title for them – only use one that has been specifically stated in advance.  You can’t go wrong with using their first name.

3. Don’t wait too long

When sending a thank-you note, it’s best not to wait so long that your customer forgets having done the thing you’re thanking them for. The slower they receive a response, the more likely they’ll forget the details of the interaction. That’s why follow-ups can’t be delayed for too long.

It’s going to take some time for your note to get finished, stamped and mailed – it’s not called “snail mail” for nothing!  So send a letter to your customer thanking them for their business as soon as you can after the transaction.

4. Don’t hide your company’s personality – or yours

It’s important to be yourself when communicating, not just because it can help you come across as more genuine, but also so the other person knows they are communicating with a real person.

Consider what your company or non-profit is about and how you would want to articulate to a customer or client for them to understand you and your company or organization better at an emotional level.

Don’t forget to include hints of your company’s personality!

And make sure to showcase your own personality, too. You’re a unique individual – don’t ever be afraid of letting that show.  Don’t forget it’s one-on-one communication, so the recipient will likely appreciate hearing from you at an authentic level rather than just another generic message sent out by any small business or organization communicating with a sea of customers.

5. Don’t ask for anything in your thank you note

Don’t ask for anything in your thank-you letter. A thank-you note’s only role is outreach: to make the customer or donor feel good and provide sincere thanks. Full stop.

Though it might be tempting to include a new piece of information – such as telling them about another service or selling some tickets to an upcoming event – don’t do that.  If you do, then your gratitude will not seem genuine, which could leave them feeling unappreciated instead of valuing your gesture of thanking them.

6. Avoid talking about your company or your goals

Similar to the last point, a thank you note should be used only to say thanks. It’s not the time for touting your company’s accomplishments or goals; it’s a chance to express gratitude and recognize a customer’s contribution to your success.

This is, however, the perfect time to be thoughtful in your thank-you note. Make it all about them, not you. Take some time and put yourself into their shoes, remembering that they could have taken their business somewhere else: they deserve a little appreciation!

Thank-You Notes Are A Powerful Tool

The right way to say thanks after doing business together might not always come naturally or easily. But once it becomes a regular part of your business operations, you’ll find it is an effort worth doing.  It’s an opportunity to say thanks and let your donors, customers or supporters know how much they are appreciated.

Lizzie Post, the great-great-granddaughter of the etiquette guru Emily Post, highlights the power of a personal note: “There’s something very lovely about the personal, physical touch of someone’s handwriting on an actual piece of paper that arrives at your door.”

The first step is deciding to send a handwritten thank-you letter to build relationships with your valued contacts. Using these rules, you will ensure that the message in that letter or note has a big and lasting impact on the recipient.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

4 ways to get referrals from handwritten letters

The folks who say “the best things in life are free” have never been to Disneyland. But, they’re on to something when it comes to business. Entrepreneurs love nothing more than free advertising. No advertising works like a referral. Social Media Today drops some key stats that reveal why. 60% of marketers say that referral programs generate a high volume of leads. 54% say that referrals have a lower cost per lead than other methods. And marketers rate referrals as the second-highest quality source of leads.

When it comes to lead generation, the best things in life really are free. That’s the great thing about referral marketing. All it costs is being great at what you do and a great person to work with.

There’s nothing not to love about referrals. The question is: How do we get more of them? Simple: being top-of-mind at all times for your past and loyal customers. That way, when their friends and family ask for a recommendation—say, needing a realtor for a first-time home buy—you’re the first person in your industry that comes to mind.

But how do you stay top-of-mind in a meaningful way? By creating meaningful connections and relationships with customers. The kind that transcends the transaction and becomes authentic and human. No method of communication creates a bond like handwritten letters. Handwritten letters help produce grateful, happy customers—the ones who recommend to others. How? Consider these four ways handwritten notes can boost your referral marketing.

1. Send an anniversary letter.

Let’s say you’re a realtor who helped a young couple buy their first home. That’s a huge step for any couple and one that is rich soil for a lasting, loyal customer relationship. Keep track of your sales and send a handwritten letter on the first anniversary of the buy. Imagine getting a home ownership “anniversary” letter: a reminder of this important milestone. Use the letter to reiterate how grateful you were to help and your best wishes for the customers’ future. It’s a warm human touch, and it will keep you top-of-mind for those customers well after you worked with them.

2. Encourage customers to leave an online review…

The digital revolution has brought with it new methods of referral. Strong online reviews have become non-negotiable for successful businesses. Nearly all consumers—97%—use online media when researching products and services in their local area, according to a consumer tracking study by BIA/Kelsey’s. And that research has a major impact on where consumers choose to buy.

The modern customer crowdsources trust from the digital market. 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, according to the Local Consumer Review Survey, with the average consumer reading a whopping ten reviews before feeling able to trust a business. Your online reviews can make or break these digital-first customers. “Positive reviews make 91% of consumers more likely to use a business,” notes the Survey, “while 82% will be put off by negative reviews.”

The transition between an analog marketing experience and a digital one is seamless. To that end, a handwritten letter is a great way to request an online review from a happy customer. You could send a short note thanking them for their business, explaining the importance of their review for your success, and providing a QR code or other link to your Google Review. It’s an intentional, impactful way to inspire a customer to leave a priceless five-star review.

3. …And then thank customers for their online review.

Imagine how good a customer will feel if you send them a letter thanking them for positive reviews. Thanking someone for an online review in such a touching, personal way leaves an imprint in customers’ memories that no competitor could match. You will be the first name on their list when friends or family ask for recommendations.

4. Stay in touch for the long-term, using handwritten letters and free information.

With handwritten letters, you can find creative ways to stay in touch with customers. No hard-selling is needed. Do better: you can use these regular touchpoints to share your expertise for free. It’s counter-intuitive, but offering useful, free insights is a great way to “acquire” customers for no cost, create a sense of reciprocity while growing market share—a critical component of business success. Consider: An accounting firm might send a letter in the months leading up to tax season. The letter could share an overview of new tax changes—and a phone number if clients want to chat more.

A realtor may include a handwritten letter with a newsletter-style mailout, sharing an analysis of the real estate market. Think of it like opening the front door a bit, so customers can peek in and see everything you have to offer. There’s no better way to prove value than to share it. And expertise shared once is expertise that can be shared again. Potential customers will pass that information onto friends and family or will refer them to you. And in the case of past customers, they will be reminded repeatedly of the value you offer.

All four of these are critical ways of staying top-of-mind. And a top-of-mind business is one that will enjoy the fruits of referrals: high-quality lead generation on the cheap. If handwritten letters sound like the right referral marketing solution for you, well then, allow us to refer you to some folks who can help with that.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

Three ways to frame choices and get better answers with direct mail

Every day, people make decisions. We make those decisions of our own free will. Or do we? Consider: you walk into a grocery store to buy a carton of eggs. We want to buy one thing: that carton of eggs. But then we pick up a loaf of bread, primed by a bright yellow “For Sale” tag that tells us the loaf is a steal. Then we notice a chocolate bar at eye level and grab that too. We’re home-free to the checkout line, but then we notice a bag of chips right below the register. We buy chips too!

Yes, we are free to make our own decisions. But in making decisions, we face what behavioural psychologists call “choice architecture.” It refers to the context and conditions of a decision that shapes our choices. By shaping those choices, we influence them. So, for instance, we are more likely to buy products at eye level. We are unconsciously primed to buy a product when it seems cheaper than normal.

These and other tactical framings of choice architecture form the basis of nudge theory. It’s a popular movement of psychological insight in marketing, government, and every area of human life. It’s all based on a simple idea: How can we frame peoples’ choices to encourage better choices?

You can integrate the insights of nudge theory into your direct mail campaigns. Here are three ideas for how to be tactical about choice architecture. These ideas will help you get better results through your direct mail campaigns.

Help readers stick with the crowd

You’ve heard the adage that humans are social animals. But that’s so much more than conversation and cliques; social life requires much unspoken cultural understanding. From firm handshakes to eye contact in conversation, unspoken rules define social life. These social norms can be powerful tools: psychological cues to encourage particular behaviour.

For instance: littering. In 1990, researchers wanted to determine what social cues might encourage people to litter. Their results found that participants were more likely to litter in a space where litter was already present. They were even more likely to litter after watching someone else litter first. But they were less likely to litter when they saw neatly-swept piles of litter in the same space. These subtle cues set the norm for whether it was acceptable to litter in the area or not. People responded right on cue.

How can we use this in handwritten letters?

Use your letter to show readers how most people are behaving in a given situation. They will aim to ride with the crowd. British taxpayers late on their return received letters with social norm messaging, like “9 out of 10 people in your area are up to date with tax payments.” Recipients of these letters were 15% more likely to end up settling their debts. Find ways to establish similar social norms in your own letters. For instance, share a fact like “9 out of 10 donors donated at least $100.”

Research shows that the social norm effect becomes even more influential when visualized. Show the people setting the norm. Britain’s Behavioural Insights Team once worked with a client to encourage greater employee charitable giving. All employees received a card from an existing donor to the charity, explaining why they give and why employees should donate. A control group received the same card but with a picture of the donor. This control group gave at much higher rates than the non-control group. For example, why not throw in a picture of yourself if you’re a realtor mailing potential clients?

Anchor readers’ choices to encourage the best option

Let’s say you walk into a high-end clothing retailer. You see a t-shirt priced at $1000. “That’s ridiculous,” you think. But a step later, you see another t-shirt “on sale” for $200. Still a ridiculous price for a shirt? Yes. But you’re now primed to see that $200 t-shirt as a bargain because the first shirt you saw set your expectations. Psychologists call this the anchoring effect. The first information received about a particular subject will distort our thinking.

This effect is so powerful, it can undermine our objectivity. And it can manifest in ridiculous ways. One study showed participants the last two digits of their social security number and then asked them if they would pay the same amount as those digits for a series of products. There is no connection between the two. The price of a chocolate bar shouldn’t be set to $21 if the last two digits of your social security number are 21. Yet, the study found that those with higher digits priced the same items at higher amounts. That’s how powerful this effect can be.

How can we use this in handwritten letters?

Here’s one way we can put the anchoring effect to good use in fundraising letters. Let’s say you are mailing donors on behalf of a food bank. Open the letter with the number you’re hoping these recipients will gift. Even the presence of the number will prime readers to give that amount. For instance, you could write: “It costs our food bank $100 to feed one client for a week.” Then, later in the letter, ask for $100. The anchoring effect will go to work in priming potential donors to give your preferred amount.

Don’t ask readers to take action. Give them a plan to take action.

You’ve decided you want to lose 20 pounds. Good for you! But we’ve all seen the following happen. We commit to weight loss, cut back on meals or exercise a bit more, then fall back time and again. The ones who make it happen are always the ones who put together implementable plans. In nudge theory, this is known as implementation intentions. It’s the process of planning out specific actions in pursuit of a goal.

In the case of losing weight, that could be how often one will exercise, at what time, and how much; meal-planning in advance to improve nutrition; and more. Research suggests that implementation intentions have an enormous effect on ensuring that intended outcomes happen.

Behavioural scientists put this insight to the test during the 2008 U.S. presidential election. They studied the effects of implementation intentions by helping potential voters enunciate a specific plan for voting on Election Day: “What time they would vote, where they would be coming from, and what they would be doing beforehand.” Turnout among this control group grew by nearly 10%.

How can we use this in handwritten letters?

Let’s say you’re a realtor sending out a solicitation letter to potential clients. Put together a specific, step-by-step strategy for anyone looking to sell their home. Include a list of questions and considerations for every stage of the process. Show the potential clients what the process looks like. Provide clarity and prove how you can help. Watch as these soon-to-be customers recognize your expertise and follow your plan.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

The Revenge of Analog

Life is moving online—so why are so many of us going offline? The Revenge of Analog explains why.

If you’re a literary junkie, you know there’s been a quiet civil war raging among the community of book-lovers. At the core of this conflict is a sacred question—would you ever peruse a book using an e-reader? Is a book really a book if it isn’t on paper? On one side are those who appreciate the practicality of their Kindles and Kobos. No wonder why. They make books more affordable, take up less space than shelves, and are easier to travel with.

And the other side of the divide? To them, it isn’t a practical argument. To them, the sanctity of the paper book is spiritual.

Consider comments in this Reddit thread explaining why users prefer paper books:

“I love the feeling of a good book in my hands.”

“There is nothing more satisfying than opening a new book and getting the honour of breaking the spine.”

“Seeing withered spines and taped covers makes me smile, and I like to think the reader is reliving so many memories just from that one book.”

Note the commonalities. “Feeling,” “opening,” “breaking the spine”—these describe the physicality of the book. They say: Nothing compares to the experience of touch. Touch is connected to memory, and especially to good memories. Touch becomes the doorway to the soul.

The sanctity of touch is the theme of David Sax’s 2016 bestseller, The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter. The book explores a contradiction in the digital revolution. At a time when most of life is moving online, more and more consumers are showing a clear preference for analog—or physical—alternatives. Essentially, things they can hold in their hands—and how feeling things makes them better. Where a Google calendar offers efficiency, a paper calendar offers beauty. Where a Facetime call provides convenience, a conversation over coffee creates intimacy. Where digital can feel distant, the physical feels closer—even in the case of a handwritten letter, where the sender can live far away.

Sax chronicles the analog revolution through anecdotes that would make Malcolm Gladwell smile. He opens with the unexpected resurgence of vinyl records. Sales reached half a billion dollars in 2015—the highest level since the late 1980s. Vinyl is an experience of music that feels “heartfelt, raw, and organic,” says Sax. “You watch the record spin, and it’s like you’re sitting around a campfire,” one musician tells him. “It’s hypnotic.” And hypnotism remains a face-to-face art.

Do you think this anti-digital vengeance comes from older demographics pining for simpler times… a Bingo club of “You kids, get off my lawn” consumers? You’d be wrong. Those now dipping their toes in analog grew up bathing in digital products: Millennials and other young consumers. They are driving the success of analog alternatives like old-school Polaroid cameras with built-in printers.

Our favourite part of the analog trend is what it reveals about our enduring love of good old-fashioned paper. For instance, beyond books, Sax raises the hopeful future of magazines:

“The newer magazines that are succeeding today, publications like Kinfolk and Monocle magazines, they’re saying, ‘Okay, we might have a few ads in here, but we’re really not dependent on ads in the way that time and Newsweek and Vanity Fair is. We depend on your subscription dollars. If you like it, you pay for the subscription, you pay for each issue, and it’s going to cost you more than those Sports Illustrated things, and we’re not sending you a football phone. You’re going to pay for this, but you’re going to get something that’s a high quality and that you’ll like and it won’t feel as disposable’. And if enough people think that, then, that’s a business.

In our industry, we at Postalgia see the paper preference at play with the power of direct mail. From the huge plurality of consumers who look forward to checking the mail to the ways direct mail gets better response rates than comparable digital marketing, we see paper’s incomparable capacity to create an emotional connection between you and your stakeholders. Forging a connection in a way that digital marketing hasn’t yet matched.

This is why the paper preference is so powerful. Paper creates relationships. We’ve seen that during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the enormous proliferation of pen pal groups and letter-writing among family members as an antidote to social isolation—and in contrast, how draining the endless Zoom meetings can be.

Nowadays we hear a lot about disruption—and that the only way to be disruptive is digital. Today, the opposite is true. The revolution of analog products is on. This revolution won’t be televised—it will be handwritten on paper you can hold in your hands.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.