In our hectic, tech-driven age of email, texting and web-based communication, is there still space for the humble letter? Businesses seeking to reach out far and wide to new and existing customers often overlook this more humble form of communication, but when it comes to making a lasting impression, a letter really is better. Here are 6 reasons why the letter remains a powerful tool for any business.
1. Make it personal. No matter how targeted an email you send, it will always come across as more impersonal than a letter. Unlike putting a real signature on a letter, emails and other electronic forms of communication leave no trace of the sender on the message. A letter feels far more personal and – because they are increasingly rare these days – receiving one will make your customer feel a little bit special. Establishing a personal relationship between your business and your customers is the secret to building long-term customer loyalty. Sending a letter to your customers as part of a wider marketing strategy is a great way to keep that relationship as personal as possible.
2. Craft exactly the right message. It’s a truism that form follows function and as email is designed as a fast, mass medium of communication, we tend to write emails quickly and often without proper attention. As a result, words can be imprecise and meanings misconstrued, such as when a humorous or throwaway comment is taken the wrong way. At worst, this kind of mistake can cost you business. The very act of sitting down to compose a letter forces us to slow down and think about the message we are seeking to convey. Honing your business message and choosing precisely the right words for the customer may take more time but the impact will be far more powerful and lasting as a result.
3. Reach only the audience you want. Once you fire an email off to someone in cyberspace, you have limited control over where it may end up. Electronic communications can be easily copied and forwarded in a variety of ways, making them less than ideal for more sensitive business content. In contrast, a personally written and addressed letter marked “Private” or “For Your Attention Only” leaves no doubt that the contents are for the intended recipient alone. There’s a certain formal gravity about receiving a letter rather than an email, making them far better suited to conveying important or delicate information.
4. Letters get opened and read. Do you start your day by going through your inbox and deleting most of the emails you’ve received since you last logged out? If the answer is yes, consider that most of your customers probably do the same. As we’re all constantly bombarded by emails, they’re far more likely to get ignored, marked as spam or simply overlooked. While emails may be cheaper than a letter to send, they’re not providing value if your customers aren’t reading them. An email can be erased from sight and memory at the click of a button but a letter on the doorstep is far harder to ignore. As a result, most of us take the time to open and read the contents of a letter that is addressed to us personally.
5. Sending a business letter costs less than you might imagine. While the cost of having a letter delivered is naturally more than sending an email yourself, there are many different ways to make savings on postage costs. Sending franked mail rather than relying on stamps will provide companies with major savings on their mail budget and businesses that have a large volume of mail can take advantage of bulk rate discounts such as Royal Mail’s Business Mail Advanced. Even companies with more modest mail requirements can save money simply by using smaller envelopes or sending mail second class rather than first class.
6. They’re easy to create. If you’re wondering how your busy company can spare the time to write individual letters to your customers, I’ll let you in on a secret – you don’t have to write ‘hand-written’ letters by hand. Instead, simply compose your message on Word, Publisher, InDesign or any other software you use and then convert your text from the default fontto a ‘handwritten’ fontinstead. A couple of mouse clicks and you’ve got your personal letter!
Sending a letter tells your customer you value them as an individual and not just a sales statistic. Whatever the message your business wants to convey, it’s far more powerful delivered by hand!