It might sound counterintuitive (in other words, a daft idea) to write to prospective clients on paper, through the Royal Mail, when it’s so much easier and cheaper just to email. Who sends letters these days? Who goes to the time and expense of printing off letters, stuffing them in envelopes, buying stamps and walking to the postbox?
I suppose it’s precisely because sending business letters has become unusual that I’m planning to do it. It was a journalist friend who gave me the idea, actually; she had postcards printed detailing her skills and sent them to editors in her field of expertise – and got a couple of commissions as a result.
Real letters are no longer the norm, and it’s possible that makes them somehow special and worth paying a little more attention to. That’s my theory, anyway, and from feedback I had on LinkedIn I’m not the only one to think so.
An editor of a US newspaper said he gets up to 500 emails per day and it takes him just five seconds to hit ‘delete’. He thought a traditional letter would in most cases at least get opened by a secretary. “A stamp is a small price to pay for the potential benefits,” he commented.
Two others who replied to my question mentioned the ‘personal touch’ that a letter brings; one wrote “reading a piece of snail mail that has value is actually kind of fun and special” and the other said: “I love getting letters” and suggested enclosing a letter inside a greeting card for added impact.
There was a further suggestion from someone else: sending a postcard instead of a letter – with branding on the front and a personalised message on the back.
Not everyone was in favour, of course. Objections to the idea included the time and expense, and the possibility that the letter might not ever get to the right person.
“I’d stick with email,” concluded one comment.
Who’s right? We shall see. My new business stationery (designed by Mancinism Design) has been ordered and when it comes I’ll embark on Project Snail Mail and will report back in due course about the results, if any!
In the meantime, here are the links to the LinkedIn discussions on the subject, if anyone wants to read more.