Marketing tip #75: Handwritten notes are magic

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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23 comments on “Marketing tip #75: Handwritten notes are magic

  1. 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)!

  2. 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

  3. Jessica says:


    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!

  4. Shelby says:

    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.

  5. David Spinks says:

    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.

  6. Loki says:

    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.

  7. Tola Popoola says:

    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.

  8. Rob says:

    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?

  9. Chris Wren says:

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

  10. Justin Brady says:

    Is my cool note sitting on your desk too? 😉

  11. Andy says:

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

  12. Doug Rawady says:

    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.

  13. Sam says:

    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.

  14. brandtrade18 says:

    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.

  15. Ryan,

    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?


  16. 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?


  17. 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.


  18. Jean Lam says:

    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.

  19. Alan Green says:

    Similar: Selling on a napkin the persuasion power of participation.

  20. Eric says:

    But what if my handwriting is terrible?

  21. 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.

    1. Belle,

      Without a doubt, the handwritten note is sort of the cherry on top of a good relationship.


  22. Robert,

    There are few things more personal in the business world than a handwritten note. I’m with you 100% on that.


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