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Snail mail fasttrackIf you’re looking for a way to stand out from your competitors and connect with customers, then snail mail could be your answer.

Earlier this week, the drop of mail through the letterbox happened to coincide my 11o’clock trip from the attic to the kitchen for a mid-morning cuppa. I felt a flutter of excitement at seeing a handwritten, lime green envelope amongst the junk mail and bank statements (yes, I know, I probably need to get out more). Who was writing to me? Was it a letter from a friend?

When I opened the letter, I was surprised to see it was a looooooong sales letter from a business coach I follow on Facebook. I have purchased a short lead magnet programme from this coach in the past and also receive her newsletter, which is how she had my contact details.

Despite a fleeting moment of disappointment – I’d had brief daydreams about the letter being from an old friend contacting me out of the blue – I was so impressed by the handwritten envelope and the effort this coach had made to connect with her customers that I read every single word of that sales letter, giving it much more time and attention than I would have done to an email or landing page version of the same copy.

I get several hundred emails a day but the last handwritten envelope addressed to me was probably a Christmas card. As I sat there with my cup of tea in hand and read the letter, I realised how unusual it was to have something to hold in my hand and read away from the computer. No, I didn’t have the money needed to book the exclusive coaching programme on offer but I will certainly remember this coach in the future.

Snail mail vs. email

I love email – it’s affordable, fast and great for testing, which makes it a fantastic marketing tool – but I also think direct mail campaigns, especially the type above, can give you space to tell the whole story, connect with customers emotionally and include different pieces people can hold in their hand and read at their convenience. Expense is a consideration with snail mail but I personally think it’s possible to generate a lot of good will towards your business even if you only send out an occasional card or letter to a select group of customers.

As a copywriter, I’m seeing an upturn in the use of snail mail. Several of my clients have recently opted for sending out hard copy ‘welcome’ letters instead of emails, printing a personalised letter on high quality paper to tell their new customers how excited they are about working with them. They’re enjoying great results because their customers feel valued and as though the business has gone the extra mile for them.

Last autumn, I listened to a sales coach speaking at a networking event. She was saying that every week she makes the effort to find books, newspaper articles, pictures, etc. that she thinks one of her clients will love and sends them out with a handwritten note. She said this is her sales secret weapon. I don’t doubt it – I know how much I’d love to receive something like that in the post (simple things, hey?).

We live in a digital world but I have boxes full of handwritten letters, cards and journals from my childhood and my twenties, as well as every thank you note from my clients. Yes, I possibly have hoarding tendencies but would I have saved half of those things if they had been sent to me electronically? Probably not. Handwriting commands attention and sentiment in a way that email just can’t.

Back in September, I wrote a blog about why print marketing is far from dead. As our inboxes get busier, we’re all looking for ways to stand out and make a good impression. Yes, sending a handwritten note can be far more time consuming than sending an email but it also sends the message that you’ve put in time, effort and thought. Even just a quick note to say ‘Thanks for your business’ or ‘I thought you might like this’ could put you on a sales fast track.

Coming soon to a post box near you

Have you thought about using snail mail in your business? Could you send out a ‘Welcome’ letter or a handwritten ‘thank you’ card? Why not give it a try and let me know how you get on in the Comments below or over on my Facebook page? I’m challenging myself to send out five handwritten notes over the summer holidays.

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Emma Heasman

Emma Heasman has been an in-house and freelance copywriter for the past 13 years and launched The Freelance Copywriter in 2003. Ever passionate about copywriting, she now works with small businesses to help them write copy that speaks to their ideal customers. Connect with Emma on Google+

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