As a plebe (freshman) at the U.S. Military Academy in 1992, I had to write handwritten notes as a way to thank my sponsors for feeding me and giving me place to be human. Talk about the little pleasures of life. Just ask an Old Grad about their experience. Now it’s almost 25 years, and I can tell you that one discipline of sending handwritten notes has proved to be invaluable to me personally and professionally with some modifications due to entrepreneurs committed to make our lives better. I’ll give you more on that at the end, but for now lets just talk about the handwritten note idea.
A Personal and Thoughtful Gesture
When I get a handwritten letter, I’m excited to open it. The art of the postage stamp, the feel of the paper, the graphic quirks of a friend’s handwriting: There is simply nothing as personal as a handwritten note. In a stack of bills and flyers, it’s a treasure in a sealed packet, full of promise and potential. It is a visceral reminder of someone far away.
Good manners are about more than fulfilling bare-minimum social obligations. They are an opportunity for us to connect to the people in our lives in a meaningful way. In an increasingly informal digital world, continuing to pull out pen and paper is a way to distinguish yourself. The handwritten thank-you note speaks volumes simply as a medium and sends the message that you care enough to invest yourself personally in acknowledging another.
Would I ever send a digital thank-you for a gift I was given?
No way. It just isn’t enough—not personal enough, not weighty enough. You can’t hold digital thanks in your hands the way you can hold a note. When was the last time you printed out an e-card? Right. Email is read and deleted. A mailed note is seen again and again on a desk or counter. Would you rather your thanks be remembered or deleted?
There are two common reasons people don’t write thank-you notes.
The biggest excuse is not having the materials at hand. Note cards or stationary that reflect your personality, a roll of stamps, pens and an address book—one trip to the store and you’re all set.
The second excuse is not having time. A handwritten thanks is often as short as three sentences, just like an email. If you want to talk about your bike trip last summer, do it in a letter. The thank-you note is special; it’s to express your appreciation, so keep the focus there. Does it take longer to address and stamp an envelope than to click “Send”? Yes, but by about one minute—a minute well spent to say thanks well.
What if I told you that you could have it all?
Up until about 7 years ago, everything above was my truth. I was old school, but I found that I was starting to slack in the way I stayed connected. So I reached out to a company that I had known of for a few years and I asked them if they were able to convert my handwriting into a personal font. Next, I wanted to see if I could upload my signature into the card. Lastly, I wanted to be able to customize the cards to compliment not only my personal brand, but also the person I was sending the card to. To my surprise, they were able to do every thing for less money and less time than I was already spending. I am able to use and share my free mobile app and I can make personalized greeting cards on the go. I love it!
Being part of a society means knowing how to be appropriate to a situation. Handwritten notes still have a personality, warmth and, when needed, gravitas that computer screens don’t. And questions of appropriateness aside, people still enjoy opening them. More than anything, that tells me they have lasting value. Fortunately, I have been using an incredible CRM system that allows me to create an amazing personalized greeting card and then have them print, stuff, seal, and mail the card for about $1.67 / card.
So, however you choose to do it, please send a little joy someone’s way!
Live Blessed & Rich,