In Praise of the Handwritten Thank-You Note

You can set yourself apart from other artists by sending handwritten thank-you notes in the mail.

Every Thanksgiving I try to write something about gratitude. This year I want to remind you of the value of writing a note, addressing an envelope, attaching a stamp, and sticking it in the mail.

My friend Cynthia likes to say that a handwritten note in the mail “blows people away.” It’s true.

Expressing my gratitude for you.

Expressing my gratitude for you.

Aren’t you delighted when you fish out a personal letter from a pile of junk mail? And isn’t it always the first thing you open and read?

You do this because you know that someone went to great effort to send real mail. And it looks infinitely more interesting than everything else in the stack.

It also seems more special than an email in your inbox or a card written and addressed by a machine.

Don’t get me wrong: there is a place for every form of communication as you nurture relationships. But you can’t replace the handwritten note.

Why? It’s tactile and appeals to other senses as well.

Recipients can feel your personality through your handwriting and your choices of paper, texture, and image.

Studies have shown that envelopes addressed in ink, even with imperfect penmanship, are opened first.

It’s because, as I mentioned above, they look more personal that everything else that makes it to your mailbox. And they don’t just look more personal. They are more personal. Someone went to a lot of trouble to send them.

We also know that sending something in the mail is more reliable than sending an email. Junk mail filters and people liberal with the Delete key make it impossible to guarantee email delivery these days.

Art Marketing Actions

1. Order note cards with images of your art on the front. They should have your name, complete credit line for the image, and website URL on the back.

2. Don’t forget the stamps! In the U.S. you can order stamps online delivered to your doorstep.

3. Remember to gather brick-and-mortar addresses whenever you can.

4. Keep your cards, pen, and stamps handy at all times and make a point to travel with them. Use short pockets of time to get those notes in the mail.

Blow people away! Embrace the handwritten thank-you note. [tweet this]

 

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16 comments to In Praise of the Handwritten Thank-You Note

  • I have been selling my bags for10 years and if my customer will give me their mailing address I have always mailed a personal thank you. If I have only an email I send those thank you messages too. Sometimes I use cards with a picture of my bags and sometimes I send my notes on other artists cards which I have purchased. Several times a customer will thank me for the card when I see them and they are very appreciative of my gesture. I have passed this on to other new artists that I meet. I believe that this has resulted in many repeat sales. Marlene

  • Alyson, I have made it a point to send personal notes any chance I get. Just recently I send my newsletter out and I ordered postage stamps with my painting on them. Personalized Postage Stamps did not cost me extra although they added the buzz and I got so many texts from my friends and relatives “How did you do that Roopa?”. I also would like to say that making tangible newsletters are much more effective too as they get recycled not deleted. My friends take them to their offices for example and share them with their colleagues and voila! I have more art collectors each year wanting to be part of my world. I also keep a copy of each newsletter for my own record in a protective sleeve (A Newsletter Portfolio of my Art History). I see sending personal notes as little opportunities to remind people that they are important to me and worth my time and money.

  • Alyson, you are so right. Despite ridicule by a couple of English professors I continue sending thank you notes written with a fountain pen. We are all overwhelmed by technology,but to take the effort to be a little old fashioned does bring a little elegance into people’s lives . I still continue with Sunday family dinners with the silver and fine china on a decorated and linen table cloth. Our sons have come to expect it and set the table accordingly .And yes, everything has to be washed by hand. We make our own family traditions, for it is part of the glue that they will remember, with fondness.
    The little things , such as a handwritten note do make a difference in someone’s daily life .They have been noticed and do count, and are worthy of attention.

  • I do write personal thank you notes for each painting I sell, although I include it with the painting when shipped. Maybe I should not do it that way.

  • I know I need to do this!! Thanks for the reminder. I just ordered note cards with images of my work — something I have been meaning to do for a long time. Since today is anti-procrastination day, I just took the time to do it. Now back to preparations for Thanksgiving dinner!

  • I too love to send handwritten thank you cards. Whenever I receive one myself, once I open all the bills and unwanted mail that drops through my letterbox, I save the best one until last to enjoy!

    With all the technology around, I feel there is a turnaround for the hadwritten card – it’s become something special and meaningful, rather than old fashioned.

    I’d love to find more reasons to send them though – I’m actively gearing up to hand write approaches to potential customers. There are so many articles on what to write and include in such letters, but a handwritten one…I think it’s the ultimate personalisation. Though as my hadwriting is a little like the Scriptina font, the post mistress sometimes gets a little frustrated trying to find space for the stamp!! :)

  • I send “thank you” notes to my art buyers (on cards featuring my art, of course!). I recently received “thank you” for the “thank you” notes back from two of my customers! One of them is a long-time collector who hadn’t purchased in a while; the other is a new buyer and he was completely surprised and thrilled to get the note from me. Little things DO make a big difference!

    And this post reminds me that I need to get back in the habit of sending first of the year “thanks for your business” notes to my purchasers from the previous year as I used to do.

  • To add…Don’t forget the In Person Thank You…Also the Reciprocal Buy, where you say thank you quietly by buying something that your customer/collector is selling, or by throwing business their way…

  • Ahh, part of the joy of working alone is not having to depend on a gallery to collect names and addresses of buyers! It’s enough that I, too, forget! So many little details to remember in the excitement of a sale!

    btw, a pet peeve of mine is getting letters that only LOOK hand-written!

  • It took me over 12 years to get into the habit of sending thank you cards to my clients. It is the very best thing I have done to give myself a sense of closure on each portrait project, and that “closure” is only an opening to future relationship and business. I try to send cards out the month after a project has shipped. This month I sent earlier due to the holiday.

  • Bob Ragland

    I send out 50 plus handwritten illustrated letters, each year.
    It’s a good inexpensive way to brand. I draw on the envelopes and put color
    on the letters. Been doing it for many years. People get art from me often.
    Real mail works.

  • I love this idea, I write handwritten thank you notes in my creative business sometimes but I would love to do it more and really make it a regular thing! Thank you for reminding us of an important part of gratitude :)

  • [...] you send is not nearly as important as the fact that you send something. And if a handwritten letter is all that is in your budget, send the [...]

  • Hi,
    I recently started selling my art and this posts are most helpful. Thanks.

  • Bob Ragland

    Sent two letters in October of 3013,made 26 sales.
    I send career updates. Got paid.
    I will always do this. It is a cheap way to market.
    Real artists leave paper trails.