Todd Hinson

Todd Hinson

Humble letter is effective marketing tool

By Todd Hinson
Business Columnist

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Building a customer relationship is good for business and is much less expensive than always having to find new customers. The White House Office of Consumer Affairs reports that it is six to seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep a current one. The challenge for many small companies is creating the relationship that makes it easy for current customers to remain long-term ones.

Small companies can differentiate themselves from large competition and win over new customers by providing personal touches that strengthen the customer relationship.

The handwritten letter is an intimate, personal way to build or strengthen a relationship in a way that quick e-mails and text messages simply cannot. A letter is inexpensive, easily customized and can be used to:

  • Acknowledge a customer’s milestone, such as an anniversary.
  • Share your appreciation for a loyal customer or thank him or her for a recent order.
  • Recognize a donor who’s contributed time or money toward a charitable cause or community event.
  • Recognize an employee for work well done or for their years of service to your organization.

Part of the reason letters stand out is because they are rare. According to the U.S. Postal Service, people get one personal letter every two weeks in comparison to 100-plus e-mails that daily are sent and received by the average corporate e-mail account.

With e-mails, people are focused on making triage choices between messages with value versus messages that are noise.

Handwritten notes convey value to the person you’re writing. You took the time to put pen to paper, find an envelope and stamp and get the letter to the mailbox. A study in the journal Emotion also suggests that recipients might instantly perceive you as a warmer person and feel inspired to get better acquainted with you and ultimately, your business.

To make sure the letter maintains its value once opened, remember that it is not a line or two stating that the order is enclosed. Nor is it a series of pseudo acronyms saying that, “BTW looking forward to seeing you ASAP.”

Your letter should be on nice stationery or letterhead that contains your company name; a tagline or descriptors that tell what you do and set your company apart; your street, website and e-mail addresses; and telephone number. This information – often lacking from the quick e-mails we send – makes it easy for recipients to get back in touch.

In this world of text messaging, voicemail and social networking, a letter might sound a bit old-fashioned. In reality, a well-written letter continues to be one of our most powerful communications tools.

Todd Hinson is co-owner of Allegra Design Marketing Print in Rocky Mount.