I’ve been writing and mailing cards to business contacts for nearly a decade. I first learned the value of this exercise in college while I was trying to secure internships. Since then I’ve made handwritten cards a ritual to generate new business leads, thank mentors, and engage potential marketing collaborators. Here’s how a simple stack of cards could help you seed and enrich relationships with prospects, customers and partners:
A handwritten card shows an added effort and enthusiasm for your exchange that an email or LinkedIn message can’t match. A personalized message will help set you apart from other contacts, keep you top of mind with someone, and become a reference point for the next time you want to continue a conversation. There are two key ways you could benefit:
Start Relationships With Potential Prospects And Partners
Once you’ve met or spoken with a prospective customer or partner, a handwritten card acts as a genuine follow-up to reaffirm your attention and interest to work together. In some cases, it can also act as a strategic tool to introduce yourself to a prospect.
In 2015, I was attending conferences to generate business leads for a startup I was working with. At an event in London, England, I found people weren’t very open to connect. So, I listened to talks, took notes, and then developed a list of people to send cards. I wanted to test whether I could get their attention and start a conversation.
I wrote a card to 15 people to tell them what I learned from their talks, why it was relevant to what I do, and made an ask of each person: to schedule a phone call for a potential marketing collaboration. Thirty per cent of people responded via Twitter or email, which helped our team build new marketing and sales leads. Later on, our CEO took up card writing while she was traveling and meeting with prospective customers.
Deepen Relationships With Customers And Partners
Most companies will rely on phone calls, personal emails and email marketing to keep in touch with clients. But, this style of communication can only take you so far in a relationship. Handwritten cards can play a powerful role in making your customers feel noticed, understood, and important.
For example, if you’re in marketing or advertising and you’ve had a particularly productive planning session with a customer, then pop a card in the mail to express your excitement and gratitude. If you’re a software company and you meet with customers once a month to present reports, then send a card once a quarter to show how much you care about their commitment to your company.
What Do I Write In The Card?
A card should be kept short and clear, while expressing your gratitude and thanks. Here’s an outline you can use or adapt to your own style:
Greeting: Hi or Dear <first name>:
First line: Highlight what you most enjoyed learning from your interaction. For example, what did they mention in their talk? How did they help you look at something in a new light? What did you achieve together in your meeting?
Second line: Give a compelling call to action that’s short, specific, and clear. “Could you connect on a 20-minute phone call on June 2 to discuss how we could work with you as a speaker?”
Third line: Introduce yourself briefly, if you haven’t met before. Think of it as your one-line elevator pitch. Otherwise skip to line four. “My name is Mark, and I develop educational software for teachers and college students.”
If you’re saying thank you, write one sentence describing what you look forward to with that person. “I’ll keep in touch and look forward to following your talks, projects, or business growth,” or, “I look forward to kicking off quarter two with you, and achieving even bigger results.”
Fifth and final line: Sign your first name, and if necessary include your email or business card so they know where to reach you.
When Is The Right Time To Send A Card?
Keep communication timely and send a card within one to two days of speaking with a new contact or current client or partner. Keep a stack of cards and stamps in your office that you can pull from as needed. If you’re at a meeting, write the card immediately after and give the note to the receptionist; you could also pop the card into a mailbox.
How Do I Know Whether Mailing A Card Helped?
If you get a response from a contact whether via tweet, text, email, or phone call, then consider it a success because you’ll know that your card was appreciated.
You can also put parameters around what you consider a successful response rate. If your goal this month is to connect with a new mentor, or collaborate with a new blogger, or develop one or two new business leads, then measure your response rate against those goals.