Recently we had to take one of our pets into the veterinarian. It was our first visit to this particular veterinarian, and from what my wife tells me, it wasn’t any different than visits we’ve made to other veterinarians. But then in yesterday’s mail we received a hand-written card from this new veterinarian, expressing how they looked forward to providing more care, and suggesting that we call if we had any other needs for our pets. Basically, a follow up “thank you” card. I looked at this and realized that sending hand-written cards, both as introductions and as follow ups, is still a viable way to communicate with the prospect or client, and also much more personal than emails.
THE CARD AS AN INTRO
I frequently write about or share posts about direct mail and how it still has the power to grab the attention of the recipient. At a previous employer we mounted a campaign that called for sending out hand-written cards to prospective clients as our first introduction. That hand-written card was much more personal than an email introduction, or a voicemail that was just a repeat of every other voice mail our contact received from a print services provider. And we found that the notecard opened a few more doors than if we had used easier methods. Maybe only 2-3 more contacts actually took our calls because we used a more personal and customized message, and that might seem insignificant. But when you think of how many times you have to contact a client with a message in order just for them to receive your call, having 2-3 contacts take our call on the basis of a hand-written card IS significant! However, you must remember that it’s not just the card itself. You have to think of the content of the card and how you will have it speak to their needs, not what you can do or what your company can offer. You have to convey professionalism and sincerity, and differentiate yourself, often in 100 words or less. In addition, each card should be written with that company’s culture in mind: find something that is common between you and the company or contact your contacting, so you can create a connection with them. The card needs to also be an element in an entire campaign, not just a stand-alone device. You have to do follow up and continue sharing your brand message and how you can meet their specific needs, often with calls, emails, collateral, paper books, or samples. Sales trainers and bloggers say it takes at least 8 touch points with a prospect before you have that chance to finally speak to them. Start it off with the hand-written card.
THE THANK YOU CARD
I learned that there are two statements that I can make that will get me virtually anything I want. Those are “please” and “thank you”. Seems basic, doesn’t it? But I have discovered that being polite, especially in a corporate or business environment, can help you achieve the results you need to, and also create a respect for you from your teammates. So, why not use “thank you” as a business tool? So often we hear from clients when something has gone wrong, but not as much when they go right. When you get a call or receive and email from a client in which they express how much they liked how their job turned out, or how much they felt that you and your company provided them with excellent service, it gives you a boost of self-confidence in not only your skills and abilities, but those of your teammates. But why not turn this around? Why not thank the client? Just as our new vet thanked us for our business and offered to assist us further, why cannot we thank our clients for the work they provide us, and encourage them to contact us for future needs. It’s a safe and non-threatening call-to-action. And if clients are like me, they keep those cards out and visible, which means your brand message is in their view on a daily basis.
So, step out of the electronic age and start writing some cards. You will be surprised at how effective they can be.