CNN recently reported on a trend to slow down communication. That may seem counter-intuitive in today’s “get-it-there-faster” environment. And yet, Snail Mail My Email, A volunteer-based project out of San Francisco has been surprised at the significant response.
Between July 15 and August 15 of this year, interested parties could send an email letter to volunteers at Snail Mail My Email. Volunteers then hand write the email and add extra flourishes (doodles, flower petals, a lipstick kiss) and mail the letter to the recipient. Ivan Cash, who organized the project, had hoped to get five to 10 letters a week. In the first two weeks volunteers had sent our 2,300 letters. One volunteer estimated that 90 percent of the letters were love letters.
Is this the next big marketing trend?
The Snail Mail My Email project is a pretty small effort in light of the amount of marketing messages that are sent out every day. And it was never intended as a moneymaking venture. But it does reveal something about how people perceive messages.
People still like to send and receive physical mail. There is still something special about going to the mailbox and pulling out a letter. It’s different than receiving an email or even a phone call.
You need to send the right kind of message. The messages sent out by Snail Mail My Email were personal. It’s doubtful that people would have been responsive to a hand-written sales letter.
What does this mean for marketing? Companies have dabbled with personalization for years. It has its place, but for the most part, people don’t really believe it. Even if the technology were available, most people wouldn’t really believe that the CEO of a company would take the time to write to them. Good marketing isn’t about trying to trick people into buying something.
If, however, you have a product or service where there is a long sales cycle and you develop a relationship with your potential client, snail mail may be able to play a significant role. Most of your communication will probably continue to be via electronic means (emails, PDF files, web content, etc.). That’s because much of what you need to communicate (and what people want to know) is information. But what do you do after you’ve sent all the information? Imagine sending your client a short, hand-written note asking them if there is any additional information they need or questions they have that you could address. This isn’t something you do with everyone on your list. You’d only do this with people who you know and who have somehow expressed their interest.
Heck, they might even pick up the phone and call you! What do you think?