A wonderful way to show clients that you are grateful for their partnership is to send handwritten thank you notes in the mail.
The good news is that since letter writing is a dying art, this gesture will be unexpected and much appreciated. This is why we believe that investing a little bit of your time and the cost of a postage stamp will have an astounding impact. To do this task justice, you will need to eliminate all distractions, thoughtfully spell out your message with a pen on paper, and send via snail mail. At first glance, this might seem like a tedious or even pointless task in the digital age. However, it is never overkill to say thank you in writing, and it will be well worth your time.
Below are some tips that will help you tackle the hardest part: gathering your thoughts and getting started. We also have some points to consider that will optimize your content and ensure that your recipients feel truly appreciated.
Before You Begin
When starting the process of writing thank you notes, your first thought might be to send them to your most recent clients. You certainly should thank them, but we also recommend that you dig a little deeper and think about the people who have in some way led you to where you are today.
Questions to Consider
- Has anyone helped your business grow in the last year?
- Whose gift of time or support in the beginning of your business contributed to its current success?
- Which projects were particularly significant for your business; did you thank those clients in a meaningful way?
- Has anyone helped make important introductions or connections for you?
- Which employees or contractors have been really going above and beyond lately?
The questions above will undoubtedly cause several names to come to mind. Write those names down. Better yet, organize them in a spreadsheet. In the columns next to each name, copy and paste the physical addresses where you need to send each thank you note. To track these down, you can search email communications or their company websites. If you’re writing to a paying client, you can get the address from the top left corner of a business check. You can even check your Google maps history if you’ve ever visited their office. If you still can’t find the address, maybe someone on your team has a record of it. This process may take some time, but stay focused. It will all be worth it.
Make sure that you have proper spellings of not only the addresses, but also the recipients’ first and last names. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many alternate spellings there are of any given name. Last names can be especially tricky beyond the typical “Smith,” “Jones,” and “Wilson.” Be thorough – if you misspell a client’s name, you will have to re-write the whole thing. Do not send a note with a misspelled name. The sincerity and heartfelt gratitude you wrote in the note will be reduced almost to nothing if it addresses a recipient whose name is misspelled. They will definitely notice and it is a big deal.
The Right Timing
You may wonder when is the right time to send a thank you note. You can and should send one whenever the impulse strikes you, but here are some pointers:
- After finishing your first project with a new client
- At a key point in the year (such as the holiday season)
- After finishing a significant project with an existing client
- After meeting with a potential client or a new connection
Keep in mind that it will be much easier to write a thank you note if the timing is genuine. You don’t want your words to feel stilted or forced as you write. Also, try to send in a timely fashion so the recipient can easily recall what you are writing about. You wouldn’t want to delay sending a thank you note after meeting with a potential client. If it’s been a few months, you run the risk of the recipient looking at the return address and thinking, “Who is this? When did I meet with them?”
The Importance of Handwriting
We highly advise that you send handwritten notes. If you’re going to type a thank you note, then you may as well send a commonplace email. You do not want to give your important clients the unremarkable experience of receiving a typed note. They will appreciate the personal touch of a handwritten note, as well as the time you took to write it. If you have sloppy handwriting, perhaps you could dictate your thoughts to someone blessed with better penmanship. Or jot down a few key points and delegate the task of stringing everything together. Just remember that a note can easily come across as impersonal if it is typed rather than handwritten.
The more heartfelt and authentic your message is, the better your note will be received.
Now, it’s not that the client wouldn’t appreciate being thanked in a short note that merely says “thank you.” The reality is that sort of note feels like a stiff formality rather than a sincere message of gratitude. It would be very surprising if your client kept this sort of note much longer than the time it takes to toss it in the trash can. That may seem harsh, but most terse and/or typed thank you notes tend to get tossed right away.
On the other hand, you also want to avoid gushing or thanking too profusely. That might come across as desperate or insincere. Be truthful. Keep the tone professional, yet heartfelt.
When writing your thank you notes, if you can strike the right balance between curt blandness and effusive gushing, you’ll be on the right track. Do your best to explain to your client why you are particularly grateful for the opportunity and their partnership, and they will know that you’re not just thanking them for paying you.
The Four Cornerstones
When we set about to do this task ourselves, there emerged four points that we aimed to address in our thank you notes to clients. We have listed these points below, as well as some thoughts for you to consider if you need help with content.
- Gratitude for the opportunity
- Start off by saying thank you
- State your purpose for writing
- Set the tone
- What it is about their business that inspires us
- Does the company have a mission that we admire?
- Did the founder pursue a creative idea and make it happen?
- Is their company culture exemplary?
- Do they pursue humanitarian efforts?
- Is it a nonprofit organization?
- The things we learned or appreciated about the project
- What was the extent of the project?
- Did the project allow us to utilize creativity?
- Did we learn something new or significant in the process?
- Is their office in a great location that we had never visited?
- Was their staff welcoming, collaborative, helpful?
- What we hope for the future
- Express well wishes for their business
- Mention an upcoming holiday or key point in their year (i.e. new semester for a school or college)
- Tell them we’d love to work together again
All of us at New Eve Media benefited from this exercise because we took the time to feel and express gratitude while in the midst of the everyday grind. Cultivating habits of gratitude will not only help your team internally, but sending a genuine note of thanks will help your clients, benefactors, mentors, and associates feel appreciated. If you’d like to instill a spirit of gratitude in your business relationships, we recommend you try writing a thank you note or two this week.
After all, Cicero said it best. “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”
We all can stand to cultivate more virtue in our lives, so why not start with gratitude?