Handwritten letters are making a comeback and it’s here to stay. Just last week Richard Branson wrote about why you should write thank you notes.
Small and large businesses like iContact and Grasshopper are sending it to their customers. Even large companies, whose leads are worth over $1 million each, are using handwritten letters to boost their sales opportunities.
But the hardest part is figuring out what to write in these notes; how to make it personal yet impactful.
These 14 essential quotes on handwritten notes will get you started. Don’t worry it’s simple and easy to apply.
Basics of Good Handwritten Letters
“Letters are something from you. It’s a different kind of intention than writing an e-mail.”
— Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves aside, this is pretty good advice. When we send handwritten letters, we write them as if we are writing an email. But they are more like a gift. Think about it, receiving letters has a similar reaction to receiving a gift — it makes people curious. And a good letter is cherished just as much as a gift. In short…
“All a good letter has to do is make you feel special.”
— Animal Crossing: Wild World (Nintendo video game) written by Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka, and Toshihiro Kawabata
So, why would you send a “Thank you for your time” type of letter. It’s like gifting your spouse a pair of white socks in a pretty little box. You are just opening the door to disappointment.
People might not necessarily remember what exactly you said in your note, but they will definitely remember how you made them feel. So…
“Making the extra effort to say thanks in a genuine, personal manner goes a long way. It is pleasurable to do, and it encourages more of the same good behavior.”
— Richard Branson
And it’s true. Studies show that writing your thank you’s boosts happiness, and lowers boredom and negative feelings. It does not take much to write one and makes both the sender and the receiver happy.
Alright, so you see what a good handwritten letter looks should look like. Now, here are the fundamentals of writing a good note.
Elements of Good Handwritten Letters
“I consider it a good rule for letter-writing to leave unmentioned what the recipient already knows, and instead tell him something new.”
— Sigmund Freud
As simple as this sounds, this is the hardest to do and it the most common mistake we make when writing a handwritten note.
Handwritten notes should build on your previous conversation. It should move your relationship forward or strengthen it. I
“Now everybody who knows anything at all knows perfectly well that even a business letter does not deserve the paper on which it is written unless it contains at least one significant phrase that is worth waking up in the night to remember and think about.”
— Eleanor Hallowell Abbot
Okay, not literally. But it goes back to the same point as making someone feel special. Special does not always mean romantic. A business letter or note should contain statements that are thought provoking. That’s what makes it memorable. So, if you don’t have a phrase that is worth waking up at night, here are couple ways to check if your letter is worth mailing,
“Letters have to pass two tests before they can be classed as good: they must express the personality both of the writer and of the recipient.”
This is the basis of every letter. It is personal communication focussed on just the two of you, unlike your twitter or facebook updates. So, make sure the letter reads like you and does not seem like it can be written anybody. Make the most of it because this is one time they are not going to be distracted by emails or other conversations.
A good way to make sure the letter reads like you is to forget about grammar because…
“Grammar is the grave of letters.”
— Elbert Hubbard
Notes and letters are supposed to be personable. Trying to stick to grammar rules is going to make your letters sound stiff and unrelatable. If it’s any consolation, there is no grammar police to come arrest you.
So, keep the tone conversational.
Humans Written Is Better Than Robot
“Normally, I can tell the fake, printed-font “handwriting” of a marketing missive from ten paces away. That stuff looks barely more human than Comic Sans, and it’s printed in laser toner instead of ink from a pen. Handwriting, it seems, is the next Turing Test.”
— Clive Thompson
Effects of Good Handwritten Letters
“Sending a handwritten letter is becoming such an anomaly. It’s disappearing. My mom is the only one who still writes me letters. And there’s something visceral about opening a letter — I see her on the page. I see her in her handwriting.”
— Steve Carell
This is the difference between a handwritten letter and any other form of communication. Anything typed will look the same barring any differences in fonts. Whereas in a handwritten note, apart from the content, handwriting, texture and colors say so much about a person sending the letter.
“While it may seem old school to have a live telephone conversation, meet in person, or send a handwritten note, sometimes they are the best forms of communication and the only way people (your clients, reporters, etc.) may ever get to really know and ultimately trust you”
— Jessica Kleiman and Meryl Weinsaft Cooper, Authors of Be Your Own Best Publicist
People like feeling and sensing physical objects. For example, people believe a brand of water is safe to drink because their caps clicked when opened they bottle. Try it yourself, jot down all the things that made your feel pleasant or unpleasant based on how something sounded, looked or felt in your hands. It’s surprising how many decisions we make just based on our sensory perceptions.
James Beshara, CEO and co-founder of Crowdtilt (crowd funding for groups of friends), understood this really well. He wanted to have a real world touch with his customers. So, he sent out 1000 handwritten letters to their first 1000 campaign administrators on their site. This gave customers a lot of trust and faith in them, even when things went wrong with their service. Like Beshara says, if you wait for something to go wrong with your service to make that first personal contact with your customer, you have already lost.
“A handwritten note is worth more than a $100 gift card but probably not more than a $200 gift card.”
Handwritten note makes all other forms of appreciation personal. They are motivating in a work place especially if they are having a bad day. You can give extra bonuses and all the perks, but nothing builds trust and engagement like a note of appreciation.
Notes can make perks go much farther. They can have a direct impact on your revenues. Best Buy found that a 0.1 percent increase in employee engagement increased $100,000 in operating income of each store per year.
Start (Small) By Sending These Handwritten Notes
“Tell someone what a huge difference he or she made in your life. Reading your note will make a huge difference in that person’s life—and in your relationship.”
— Jeff Haden
People inspire you every day. You might not know them personally, but you are definitely learning and making life changing decisions when you read someone’s articles or when you talk to them on twitter or facebook. It’s good to get inspired, but it’s easy to forget about building relationships with those who inspire you. Letting them know how they made a difference is great to way to start and they love hearing about it.
Go ahead and send them a thank you note. Be specific in how they made a difference and what you are going to do next. Then when you have followed through, send them a note again. Thank them and tell them more about the results it brought you. Close the loop. People like helping who will actually follow through and take action. If you want to build relationships or even want them to be your mentor, then keep them updated.
You should do the same for your employees and team members. Appreciate and thank them, but be specific because…
“It’s one thing to say, “I appreciate what you did today. Thanks a lot.” That’s a soap-bubble comment. Pretty while it lasts, but gone in seconds. It’s general and vague. When you thank them for something specific, that’s Velcro. That’s a thanks they remember because it sticks. You hook your gratitude to something the employee did. For instance, an employee just handled a difficult phone call with a customer really well. Thank them for that specific activity.”
— Joey Faucette
You are probably struggling to find time getting work done, but it is just as important to recognize each team member. Douglas Conant, wrote about 30,000 handwritten notes to his employees throughout his 10 years as a CEO at Campbell. That means he paid attention to each individual’s personal contributions. A pat on the back does more than just feel good. It builds trust and is an invaluable tool.
And if you are in sales or manage clients, here is a creative way to use handwritten notes.
“A handwritten note may not be the best way to arrange a meeting or confirm that a parcel arrived, but it can be surprising more efficient than phone tag for a lot of messages.”
— Margaret Shepherd, Author of The Art of the Handwritten Note.
“Staying top of mind has a direct correlation to the number of opportunities you get from your network.”
— Patrick Ewers
So, if there is one habit you should build, then make it this: Write one handwritten thank you note every day. If you already write handwritten notes, tell me why you write them.
You have come this far, that means you read the whole article. Here is a video of more ideas to ponder:
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