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Practice Management > Building Your Business

The pen is mightier than the keyboard

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Thank clients for their business. Thank them for referrals. Remind them about their appointments. And do these things with a handwritten note. Find any excuse to send a note card to prospects, service providers and clients. Handwritten notes are simple but powerful.

We have all become so accustomed to communicating via email, text, tweet, Facebook post, etc., that the lowly card — a handwritten, hand-addressed, hand-stamped piece of “snail mail” — has become an item that prompts immediate interest and delight in the recipient.

While there is a cost factor and a small amount of labor involved in selecting stationery, buying stamps, writing and posting a card (not to mention tossing the occasional mistake into the trash), the potential rewards can be great indeed.

One of my clients, Peter, a financial advisor, told me how he thought his light gray suit had been ruined. Someone had spilled red wine onto his lap at a networking event. But he took it to a dry cleaner and was amazed that the cleaner was able to get the stain out entirely, leaving his suit as good as new.

“Send him a note. Thanking him for getting the wine out,” I advised. Peter protested, saying a handwritten note would be overkill. He had thanked the owner personally when he picked up the suit and felt that was enough.

I explained to him that the owner probably receives dozens of letters each from year from people complaining about damaged shirts and demanding reimbursement. The seemingly outdated thank-you note, I told him, would surprise and flatter the owner and in the long term might even help Peter’s own business. Peter was skeptical but sent the thank-you note anyway, along with one of his business cards.

A week later, Peter called, excited to share what had happened. “When I walked in with my shirts yesterday,” he said, “my note and business card were taped to the wall near the counter. The owner thanked me for my note and asked me about my business — something he’d never done in the three years I’d been bringing my clothes to him.”

“But wait!” he exclaimed. “It gets better. I told him what I did, and he asked me if I’d be willing to talk to him about his situation. All because I sent him that note!” Eventually, Peter started working with the dry cleaner, who had other businesses (and, as it turned out, a significant amount of assets).

“It won’t always work like that,” I said during one of our later sessions, “But it will open doors for you if you keep doing it.”

So here’s prescription for making note cards work for you: Make it a point to write three per week — to anyone you can think of, for any reason — and enclose your business card. The time and effort involved in sending a note card will stand out in today’s frenetic, digital world. And who knows, the recipient may just turn out to be your next client. 

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Sandy Schussel is a speaker, business trainer and coach who helps sales teams develop systems to win clients. He is the author of The High Diving Board and Become a Client Magnet. For more information, go to


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