Writing by hand for business: an old new way to get customers’ attention

Writing by hand for businessWho would have thought that writing by hand to your customers and prospects would come back into fashion after more than 100 years?

That’s not as ridiculous as it sounds. I’m not suggesting that you throw out all your IT and sit up on a high stool at a Victorian clerk’s desk with an inkwell and a quill pen, if only because that’s not only slow, it’s also bloody uncomfortable. My back aches just thinking about it.

But the odd bit of handwriting – because it comes as such a nice, touchy-feely surprise in our high-tech environment – is something many of us value.

Handwritten mail…huh?

Think for a minute. When the snailmail plops down by your front door at home, what attracts you first? The machine-processed bills from the energy companies? The Domino’s Pizza money-off coupons? The nicely typed, expensive charity mailers that would charm the pants off you if they hadn’t spelled your name wrong?

No – I bet you a dollar to a pile of dog doo-doo that the first thing to attract your attention is a handwritten envelope, if there’s one in amongst the other stuff.

What if a handwritten envelope arrives on your desk at work?

Even though your PA may have filtered out the junk mail before bringing the mail into your office, a handwritten envelope will still stand out from the rest.

Given that we are all so well programmed to receive what little snailmail there is nowadays in word-processed format, we’re just as likely to open and consider a handwritten missive first when we’re at work, as we would if we receive a handwritten letter or card at home.

We all know that personal, open and honest relationships are increasingly important in our inbound marketing activities online – and this combination has to spill over into printed/written communications such as we may use as part of our marketing mix.

How to write by hand effectively for your marketing communications

Writing by hand for your marketing communications really isn’t such a wacky idea. OK, if your list of customers and prospects runs to thousands, writing by hand is going to take you forever if you don’t get severe carpal tunnel syndrome in the meantime, so forget it.

Where writing by hand can really score is a) if your key customers and prospects amount to, say, two or three dozen individuals, and b) if your ongoing relationship with such key customers is important to you for bringing in repeat business over time.

A very brief case history

Recently I was doing a bit of consultancy work with a client who is involved with corporate events for a hospitality organization. She wanted some ideas on how to strengthen her relationships with a core base of about 30 important clients who organize events in the area of her property.

We walked through various issues about who these people are (mostly women with children of school age) and how well she knew them (quite well as all were existing clients or people who had expressed interest in the venue) and we talked about ideas for semi-social activities for these people, coffee mornings, lunches, spa days and so-on to enable discuss of new ideas for conference / seminar /workshop ideas, etc.

But what really was my client’s lightbulb moment was when I asked her how she communicates with these customers and prospects on a regular basis. Turned out she was sending word-processed letters and emails.

“Why don’t you complement the more business-like stuff with some handwritten postcards?” I asked. “Birthday or other greeting cards? Handwritten comments on an invitation to a spa day at (her venue?) Handwritten note to accompany a notice about discounts at (the venue) or at (other local activity, e.g. local racecourse?)

So, what were the results?

My client only started working on this notion shortly after Christmas this year, so it’s still early days. But she reports that already, after sending out just a couple of handwritten card mailers, her response rate has doubled and her conversion rate is beginning to look very healthy. Interesting. I will gladly report on her progress later this year as the writing by hand campaign continues.

Obviously it mustn’t be overdone, if only for the sheer sake of your sanity as well as not letting the novelty factor wear off where your customers and prospects are concerned.

blog,writing,news,blogging,business,Suzan St Maur,howtowritebetter.net,how to write betterBut when you think about it, it makes sense, doesn’t it?

How do you feel about writing by hand to get your marketing messages noticed above the massively word-processed masses? Please share!

And in this article, I share some ideas on how to shape up your handwriting, if you’re going to use it for business writing by hand…

photo credit: psd via photopin cc




  1. Yes – I can understand that, but I am old-school in many ways. It is a treat for someone to spend the time to write, isn’t it. I’ve this year bought some lovely note cards with the intention to write to people out of the blue now and then, so I look forward to tomorrow’s post as my handwriting is appalling!

  2. LOL Babs … I know the feeling because my handwriting is terrible too! It’s probably from years of taking notes by hand which I can still do faster than typing into a tablet or laptop … the result is a scrawl, with a bit of my own shorthand thrown in, but I can almost keep up with anyone but a rapid talker and still be able to read back from the notes.

    Now when I try to write neatly I slow myself down but soon find myself speeding up again. I will borrow your idea of buying some pretty notelets and see if that inspires me to try harder…


  1. […] we shared some ideas on how writing by hand for business messages can be a welcome tonic for customers and prospects who are getting a bit oblivious to […]