The Power Of The Pen.

internet-week-thank-youWe live in a business world of massive email overload in which each of us receives literally hundreds of electronic messages each day. Given this volume, the impact of an email has diminished greatly.  How many emails to you actually open and read thoroughly? How many do you delete instantly?

My buddy Fred Moore, President of a terrific agency in Richmond called Big River wrote about the power of the pen a few months ago in a blog post Is Old School New Again from his blog, Fred Moore or Less (FMOL).

Seems like even among digital leaders that there is recognition that a well crafted note still has impact. I submit perhaps even more influence than ever given the decline of hard mail we not receive. Here are Fred’s thoughts:  

Here’s some irony.

Early last month, we sent one of our Big River digital leaders – Jeff Johnson – to New York to attend a conference at the prestigious, super high tech “Internet Week.” We always want our Big River associates to be learning all the latest about digital trends and social media so we, in turn, can lead our clients.

This event in the Big Apple had all the big name visionary digital and technological leaders in attendance. With all the talk of digi-byting, linking, optimizing, poking, twittering…well, it could put one a little bit on edge.

So, how did the cyberspace visionaries of Internet Week follow up with Jeff after the week to thank him for his attendance and promotion of their event? (After all, Jeff did tweet 586 times about their conference.)

The Internet Week organizers sent Jeff a handwritten thank you note.

Yep. A note. On real paper. With real handwriting. Written by a real person. (See photo above.)


When Jeff received it, he was so impressed that he posted it on Big River’s intranet.

People were impressed.

It makes me ask: why did a simple thank you note make such an impression on me and the rest of us here at Big River?

Because that simple handwritten note proves the basic tenets of great brand marketing.

1. Be courageous. With the handwritten note, the medium was the message, even if it was not Internet Week’s medium of choice. Lots of digital organizations in attendance would be afraid to send an old-fashioned, handwritten note. Fear that if they didn’t send a digital response, then people may not perceive them as seriously “digital.” It takes courage to be distinctly different. Be confident in your abilities. My bet is the Internet Week people were the only ones at the conference who sent handwritten responses. Marketing is about being different. Dare to be different.

2. Show you care. What is easier? Quickly tapping out a generic digital response or taking the time and effort to write a handwritten note?  We connect more with people when we know they made more of an effort on our behalf. People believe the actions of people.

3. Make a real connection. We all know it’s not about technology; it is about making strong connections. How do we meaningfully and honestly connect and interact with people? That is the essential question of marketing. The way to ‘connect’ is always changing as new solutions arise. But, it is not always the latest solution that achieves the best and most meaningful connections. Sometimes “going back” is a stronger, bolder solution. Make sure you are answering the question of how to make the strongest connection rather than just concentrating on the newest way.

Jeff’s handwritten response from Internet Week really got me thinking. Maybe I should mail you my next blog handwritten on real paper? The U.S. Postal Service would certainly appreciate that!

And, this could be big for FMOL. Who knows? Maybe my handwritten blog could take me to new heights in the blogosphere! (And my handwriting is pretty good – honest.)

Watch out Jay Baer, Jason Falls and Guy Kwasaki. My pen could prove to be mightier than the keyboard.

Thanks for your thoughts, Fred. Smart fella.

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