The Power of Hand-Written Thank You Notes…

I love to send handwritten notes. Birthday cards (yes, even to adults); “random” notes (sometimes with an article I think will be of interest;) and of course, thank you notes.

One of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received was from my girlfriend Heidi Kallett, former owner of the Dandelion Patch. She gave me 365 thank you cards and envelopes, and the book 365 Thank yous by John Kralik. The cards are long gone, the book is on my bookshelf as a reminder to keep at it.

If you don’t write thank you notes, try it. A hand-written thank you note is an overt act of gratitude, something the world needs more of.

When to send

  • Anytime you open a gift in absence of the giver. Really, anytime you receive a gift.
  • Anytime to are invited to someone’s home for a lunch, dinner, or party.
  • As soon as you can possibly write the note is the most opportune time to send them.
  • Keep in mind it is worse to never send the note than to send it 6 months after receiving a gift. While more timely is better, the time for a thank you note never has lapsed. Not sending a thank you note is always worse.
  • The most memorable thank you notes are thank yous for random acts of kindness, because those are the most unexpected.
  • Anytime you question whether you should or should not send a thank you note, you should send one.
  • There is never a wrong time or occasion to send a thank you note.
  • Always send a thank you note to a prospective employer who has taken the time to interview you.
  • It is always appropriate to send an immediate thank you email, but only in addition to the hand-written note that will follow.

What to say (and what not to say)

  • Always mention something specific about the gift, preferably how or where you are going to use it; this specificity is particularly important if you received a gift card.
  • Remember that even if you do not like the actual gift, you are thanking someone for his or her thoughtfulness and for the fact that they put time and effort into the gift.
  • Never say you won’t enjoy the gift, have a duplicate of the gift, or will never use it. (Yes, this seems obvious, but you would be surprised…)

Modern day rules

  • An email thank you is never a replacement for a hand-written thank you note.
  • Because of the prevalence of email, actually, a hand-written thank you note will have even more of an impact.

Start today. Send one thank you card to someone, just because. And then sit back, and enjoy how it makes you feel, and how it makes the recipient feel. 

This week's 5 business lessons

It is Friday evening, and I am tired. This may be because I was up at 4 a.m. this morning, and at the office by 5 a.m. Or it may be because this has been such an intense week during which I have learned so much, that my brain is tired. This week, through a combination of conference calls, a new TV show, and three days in the field, I learned five key business lessons.

Monday’s lesson: “Launch strong; stay strong.”

This lesson was imparted to me by a veteran of Estée Lauder, and while it seems so simple, and makes complete sense, those words had never been strung together for me in quite this way before. Simple and essential. In effect, the consumer goods version of the old adage “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” Translation in my world: don’t discount a launch; don’t piecemeal a launch. Your launch is a precursor to the rest of the product’s life.

Tuesday’s lesson: “We cannot sell a product the consumer doesn’t understand the name of.”

One of my best friends, an amazing entrepreneur in the finance space, told me last week I should watch The Profit, every Tuesday night, 10 pm, on CNBC. It just so happened I was on the road Tuesday night, in my hotel room catching up on emails around 10 pm when I remembered her recommendation. I turned on the TV, which I so rarely do, and was absolutely hooked to this new show. This episode was about a brand of home products called Ecome. Part of their problem was their product names. With Alchimie Forever, names have been a constant challenge. While our brand name is challenging to spell and pronounce (Alchemy anyone?), our former laser product names were downright confusing, unpronounceable, and incomprehensible: Yttrium. Nd:YAG. Excimer. Do you know what these words mean? Do they tell you anything about what our product does (respectively, morning cream, aftershave gel, and cleanser…)? No. After many years and more internal battles, we finally let them go. And our brand is stronger for it. Somehow, knowing other small consumer brands go through the same angst made me feel better about my brand!

Wednesday’s lesson: “Sweetening the days of partners and clients with Swiss chocolates makes for particularly delightful interactions.”

I am Swiss. I love chocolate. I love Lindt truffles perhaps above all. Just like 4 inch heels, I have come to think of these round delicious treats packaged individually in bright foil as part of my signature. There is nothing more fun than sending a team member some chocolates, or walking through a large office and handing some out. It makes me feel a bit like how I imagine Santa Claus feels every December. It probably makes me feel even better than it does the recipients. And it sure makes for a great day of smiles, a day during which many of my requests get answered hyper-effectively! (And chocolate is packed with antioxidants!)

Thursday’s lesson: “Never be more arrogant than your client.”

I am not a fan of arrogance. Who is? Yet sometimes, I am sure I come across as arrogant. “I am smarter. I am faster. I do math in my head. I remember things more accurately. I am right.” A partner and master at sales (you know who you are!) reminded me this week that the client is always right. Of course, I know this. But sometimes I can’t help but point things out when they mis-remember, mis-quote things. And yes, I know – even when that is actually the case, the client is still right. Because they are the client. And I can never be more arrogant than they might be.

Today’s lesson: “Lead with your best.”

The head of sales of my favorite nail care brand, SpaRitual, said this a few times during our last few conversations. This means I should give gratis of your best-sellers. This also means I should not create GWPs around your slowest SKUs as a way to move dead inventory. Indeed, as she says, “give them the hottest color of the moment.” For free if you need to. Don’t lead with your laggard products. Once again, you only have one change to make a first impression. Make that first impression the best it can be.

I love to learn – possibly more than anything. A week filled with so much learning, as this past week was, is my favorite kind of week. And the most tiring. Hello Friday night, I am so happy you are here. And good night!