The Lost Art of Letter Writing
by Kelly Googe Lucas, Marketing and Social Media Manager, BBR Marketing
When I was interviewing for jobs out of college, I made a point of sending a hand-written Thank You letter to each person with whom I had met. If I talked with seven people at the same firm, I sent out seven separate letters. I just assumed that was standard procedure and the proper etiquette because that was what I had been taught at career services. When I was finally hired, one of the women I had met with commented about how impressed she was with receiving a Thank You letter. “Doesn’t everyone do that?” I asked. Her response: “No. No one really does that anymore. It’s pretty dead.”
When you are trying to develop new business contacts and generate sales, each meeting and each networking opportunity is, in essence, an interview for your firm. You are telling the potential client (the employer) what your firm (the job seeker) has to offer. Following your meeting (interview), you should always take the time to follow up with a Thank You. Most people go the quick and expedient route and use email. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Any follow up is definitely better than nothing at all. It shows you are appreciative of their time and want to continue the conversation. But what about sending a hand-written Thank You?
There’s something to be said about receiving letters and cards in the mail. I may be in the minority here, but I love opening up the mailbox and seeing a brightly colored envelope or seeing my address hand-written and not mass generated by a computer. I always open those first. While some of you may not be as enthusiastic about getting mail, I’d be willing to bet that nearly everyone chooses to open those specially written letters first. Why? Because they stand out.
When you are marketing yourself or your firm, you want to stand out from the crowd. One of the simplest, yet incredibly effective ways to do this is by sending a hand-written follow up. It takes only a few minutes, and the impact can be significant. I feel that many potential clients are more prone to reach out to a potential vendor that has written them a letter versus just emailing them or sending a generic fill-in-the-name typed letter. I’m just basing this on how I respond, but I appreciate it when a sales person has stopped what they are doing and taken the time to create a note specifically for me. It shows they are considerate and that I would probably receive great customer support, all of which are things you’d like to get across to your potential clients. In the professional services industry, that is what you are selling. Your basic skills can be found elsewhere, but not your client service. So why not make your white-glove service known from the get-go!
Once you’ve gained a new client, you don’t have to stop with the letters there. At holidays, at the very minimum, sign the cards you send yourself. Don’t just let it be embossed with your company name or, God forbid, a stamp of your signature. Follow the same rules for other special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries, whatever you choose to celebrate with them. Keep the effort going. With letter writing becoming a lost art, taking just a few extra minutes to handcraft a Thank You and follow-up can really make you stand out in the crowd. And it might just lead to new and loyal business too.