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Marketing tip #75: Handwritten notes are magic

July 14th, 2010 · 31 Comments · Business Owner/Leader Stuff, Life

Thankyoufront I was speaking to a college class on Monday night and our conversation reminded me of this tip.  Handwritten notes are practically unheard of today.  Everyone fires off an e-mail or texts a quick thought.  But for someone to sit down and take the time to actually write a thank you  note (or any sort of note) is an almost forgotten art.

Which is why it is so noticeable and memorable.

The photos to the right are a thank you note that I received nine months ago from a developer at Wufoo.  (Wufoo is an awesome online tool that lets you create interactive, HTML-based forms on the fly).  We've been a happy and loyal customer for a few years now.

Anyway — for no special reason and on no special occasion, I get this homemade handwritten card from Chris, one of the Wufoo developers.

Let's look at this "high end" card.  He took thick construction paper and put a dinosaur sticker on the front.  Then, with a pen, he created the "Thanks" on the front and wrote me a quick note on the back.  He thanked us for our business and said that they valued our trust in them.

Thankyouback I still have the note.  It sits on my desk.  I get tons of e-mails and other electronic forms of communications.  None of them are displayed on my desk.

Handwritten says you went out of your way.  Handwritten says you have good manners, handwritten says it really mattered to you.

Handwritten notes are brilliant marketing.  What if you wrote one thank you note a week to a customer, employee or vendor?

I think you'll be stunned at the response.  Try it and let me know.

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31 Comments so far ↓

  • Ryan Roossinck

    Granted, I’m the general manager of The Pear Tree Pen Company, so I have a semi-vested interest in seeing more people pick up on this, but a few years ago when I was an account rep for a technology consulting firm, handwritten thank-yous were a big hit with my customers. Drew, you hit the nail on the head; when someone takes the time to sit down and put pen to paper, it’s noticed (and appreciated)!

  • joe

    Drew a brilliant concept and your right the personal touch works. Basically that guy has put some effort in and you appreciate and more importantly remember it!

  • Robert Hidajat

    Sometimes I wonder if the next generation of kids will even know what handwriting is since they will grow up with tapping, flicking, and now swyping

  • Jessica


    This is something we encourage our staff to do regularly, whether it’s to welcome a new client, thank someone for attending a lunch & learn, or pass along an article.

    Thanks for the reminder to send my notes this week!

  • Shelby

    In a former life, I was responsible for all sales and marketing for one of Iowa’s larger Chambers of Commerce. I adopted a policy of writing thank yous to every investor who renewed their annual membership with the Chamber. No other marketing effort received the appreciation those notes did. Another great reminder! Thanks, Drew.

  • David Spinks

    The first questions that come to mind are:

    How’d they get your address?

    What about the trees?

    How will you forward it to others?

    But you’re right…the handwritten note does go a lot further. As far as sending a thank you to a customer, it’s probably the best way. I need to do it more often. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Loki

    My work is entirely online, yet having been raised in New Orleans I had old school manners drummed into me from a young age. I’ve always sent handwritten notes like this to colleagues and clients.

    As my work moved entirely into the digital realm I saw the return on this approach increase. The more purely online your interactions the more surprising and memorable that personal piece of mail becomes.

  • Tola Popoola

    I just listened to a podcast on Monday about sending out direct mail but then adding a sticky handwritten note to show that it was sent with that person in mind. I haven’t tried it but I think it will be remembered.

  • Rob

    Another great simple tip. When you really want to make an impression, or earn some cred with “fan/follower/customers” this is something that has long since escaped me…wonder how it can be innovated. dailybooth?

  • Chris Wren

    This is a great article and a wonderful point about humanizing and personalizing engagement.

  • Justin Brady

    Is my cool note sitting on your desk too? ;-)

  • Andy

    Handwritten notes are magic. Handwritten notes with dinosaur stickers doubly so.

  • Doug Rawady

    Outstanding advice, Drew. I’ve been doing this for years now and it never fails to favorably impress the recipient. And as you so correctly point out, in this day of electronic communication ANYTHING handwritten stands out in stark contrast.

    One additional tip I’ll offer is that in many business interactions or processes there are going to be certain “touchpoint” opportunities that occur consistently; “nice to have met you; thanks for the referral and thanks for your business” being three common examples.

    If you pre-script the general copy for these types of notes (substituting names and specific details where necessary) you don’t have to reinvent the wheel and try to figure out what to say every time you go to write one. It saves a bit of time and some amount of mental anguish that would normally accompany the process of creating a handwritten note from scratch.

  • Sam

    My Chiro does this exact same thing. He sends them out for our birthdays and even one for the kids. To me they are just as precious as the ones I receive from friends and family. A little effort goes a long way sometimes.

  • brandtrade18

    Nowaday, more and more people choose computer to write the messeage and send e-mail . Most of people must use computer to work, especially for white collar. Therefore, few people will choose handwritten so that citizen don’t know how to write sentence beautifully.

  • Drew McLellan


    I figured you’d endorse this idea! There’s an intimacy to something handwritten. It isn’t pounded out in haste. You know it wasn’t mass sent. And you know it’s personal.

    That’s powerful stuff.

    I’m curious — are pen sales up, down or flat? As we all get uber connected to our keyboard, do we still love/buy a good pen?


  • Drew McLellan

    Joe — yup. Even though it’s a pice of cardboard and a sticker like we’d make in kindergarten — I love that he took the time to do it. And that it is so obviously homemade makes it even better.

    Robert — that depends on their parents, I suspect. Ever since my daughter was a toddler, I’ve made her write thank you notes after birthday and Christmas gifts were received. Now, at 17, she just knows it needs to be done. Train them when they’re young, I say!

    Jessica — did you get some sent out? Any responses?


  • Drew McLellan

    Shelby — and do you still use handwritten notes in your current life?

    David — maybe I’m a bad environmentalist but I never worry about the trees. I just love the sentiment. And I guess I could recycle them….

    Loki — I think that is very true. The more you live online, the more a handwritten note means.


  • Jean Lam

    hey Drew, nice blog. I can’t agree more. I think handwritten notes are more personal and give the message that you really care. It’s more physical. With everything automated these days like email, sms and internet, people are no longer using pen and paper to write.

    I remember being an affiliate of a company who sent me a gift and a handwritten note on xmas for all my efforts. Frankly, I was deeply touched. It’s also a good way to sustain a relationship with someone in business either with customers or affiliates.

  • Alan Green

    Similar: Selling on a napkin link to bit.ly the persuasion power of participation.

  • Eric

    But what if my handwriting is terrible?

  • Belle Gardner

    I couldn’t agree more. Your handwriting is one of the few things that would help you make the sale.

    But more than the handwriting, how you build your relationship with the people you meet everyday is the secret to making sales. I’m no expert on relationship advice or that sort of thing, but it works for me.

  • Wordpress web design

    There’s an undeniable charm with handwritten cards and notes. It adds a personal touch to an otherwise bleak and detached air brought about by the card paper. People on the card business were able to see the effect of handwritten notes to their people so they are incorporating it on their card designs.

  • inground pools adelaide

    Yes it is true. I do believe that hand written marketing campaigns can give you a much quality outputted targeted results. That is because it involves actual conversation making both party feel that they are both human.

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