Opposites Attract

There’s an old saying that opposites attract and that’s often true.  There was a story in the local paper recently about the decline of greeting cards due to the increasing popularity and usage of electronic versions and social media.

Stats back up this trend.  A U.S. Postal Service study which shows correspondence (like greet­ing cards) fell 24% between 2002 and 2010.  Hallmark estimates the number of greeting cards sold in the U.S. has fallen by 20% in the past decade.

It’s certainly great to log onto Facebook on your birthday and read dozens of birthday wishes from friends and family (most of whom probably would not have mailed you a physical card).  But, isn’t there something special about opening the mailbox to find an envelope with your name on it, written by hand?  That’s a great example of the opposite (of the norm) having a positive effect.

The same principle applies to business or job searching.  Most job applications are filed electronically and many of the larger companies have their own applicant tracking system in place.  Conventional job search wisdom is to send a thank you following an interview.  What if, instead of emailing that note, you mailed a physical thank you card and wrote your note by hand?  Don’t you think it would stand out (in a positive way) in this ever-increasingly electronic age?

With business, when everyone sends an email, why not pick up the phone?  Don’t forget the power of a sincere “thank you” in business – and to do something to make that thank you memorable.  At the end of the day, if you want to stand out from the crowd, sometimes you zig when others zag.  It may not always be true, but very often opposites do indeed attract.

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The Lost Art of the Thank You

It was ingrained in me at a young age by my parents to always write a thank you note.  When you fail to do so, they’d preach, it insults the gift-giver and almost assures you won’t receive another from that person.

I now preach that same lesson to my kids.  Two weeks ago, my youngest came home from school with an Easter-themed bag of treats from one of her teachers.  Over the holiday weekend we had her write a thank you note to her teacher.  Her teacher was very appreciative of the note and said something that shocked me.  She claimed that in all her years of teaching, she could count on one hand the number of times a student had written her a thank you note, and my daughter had written two of those.

As communication methods have become more numerous and perhaps more casual, has that changed what many would still consider good manners?  Has this changed business manners too?

When was the last professional thank you note you wrote and what was it for?  My guess is that most readers can’t remember and the other group of readers will claim it was while job searching following an interview or a meeting.  Am I right?

If you think back on the past year, there have probably been many occasions where a quick note of thanks could have been sent but wasn’t.  Think about how you feel when you receive a thank you note that’s been customized enough where you get a true sense of the gratitude.  You’re more likely to want to repeat the experience again in the future.  The goal of most businesses, regardless of industry, is to get repeat business in addition to new business.  Doesn’t it seem obvious then that a thank you note can be a powerful business tool?

So my challenge to you is to write a business-related thank you note to a client, customer or vendor this week.  Like fertilizer in a Spring garden, see how your business relationship blossoms as a result of a little personalization and display of gratitude.  Let me know how it goes!

Yes Virginia, There Is An App For That

Unlike the retail industry, which seems to start the holiday season earlier each year, I can fully embrace the season now that Thanksgiving is behind us.  If you’re over the age of 20, you’ll probably remember holiday seasons in the pre-internet age.  You know, the Stone Age.  😉

I remember looking forward to receiving my Sears Wish Book every year.  It seemed like a thick encyclopedia of toys, with pages upon pages filled with an assortment of things to ask Santa for.  I’d sit down with paper and pencil (again, well before the internet) and write a list of things I hoped to get on Christmas morning.  In 2011, that sounds quaint, doesn’t it?

As a parent in the 21st Century, it’s interesting to witness how technology has changed things.  Yes, printed catalogs still arrive in the mail.  However, kids can create online registries so Santa can fulfill their wishes with a click of the mouse or a review of an email.  Articles, blogs and websites can detail the most sought after toys, compiling lists, providing reviews and checking for best pricing.  Sound amazing?  That’s actually old news . . .

Sears Canada recently announced the creation of a Wish Book app for the iPad.  According to an article in Chain Store Age, the app allows “thousands of items to be viewed, added to Wish Lists or purchased with the tap of the finger on the iPad.  The application also includes a built-in gift list organizer to manage holiday gift giving and shopping.”

So when that little girl asks about Santa and whether he’ll see her list, you can reply, “Yes Virginia, there is an app for that.”

How are you and your family using new technologies this holiday season?

Welcome To My Blog

Through my blog, I hope to share my thoughts and opinions on various marketing efforts I come across:  advertising, marketing research, social media, direct mail, commercials, branding, personal branding.  While you might be thinking, “I’m not into marketing, what will I get out of this?”  I can assure you that you encounter and participate in marketing on a daily basis.

Need to convince your spouse that your idea should be considered?  That’s marketing.  Need to demonstrate to an interviewer that you’re the perfect candidate to be hired?  That’s marketing.  Have a used car that you’re trying to sell?  Getting bombarded by politicians’ messages?  Trying to sift through coupons and offers from area restaurants?  Engaging with companies on Facebook?  It all ties into marketing.

I hope to share my thoughts, observations and experiences on the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to marketing.  I hope you’ll come along for the ride.  After all, you live and breathe marketing every day.