Updated: May 23
Handwritten marketing makes positive happen
Something happens to your brain when you read handwritten marketing materials or write something by hand. Research says neural activity goes up compared to reading typed materials and something very primitive and positive happens.
From thank you cards to direct mail, handwritten communications are powerful and emotionally connect senders and recipients.
A pioneering study found that reading and writing by hand creates significant benefits. And for those who receive handwritten materials, they connect at subconscious levels and create positive impressions.
Many of the connections and positive impressions have grown out of childhood engagement with writing. In several studies, key findings indicate handwriting:
Improves learning and retention:
· Compared to computer typing, handwriting engages multiple sensory and motor systems that lead to deeper processing, information encoding, and remembering.
· Recall is better when you write compared to typing, probably because of creating stronger and more distinctive memory links as part of the writing process.
· Handwriting engages brain systems in ways that promote divergent thinking and free association, so that stream of consciousness or intuition play a part in writing.
· Because handwriting is slower, it promotes greater focus and attention compared to typing, especially if a person is taking notes.
· Young children especially benefit from handwriting because it not only develops fine motor skills but also reinforces reading and learning.
The process of handwriting has residual effects as we grow. Handwriting connects to memory impressions and stimulates positive feelings, researchers say.
Because handwriting is a form of personal expression, reading handwriting provides a sense of intimacy and connection that isn’t always present in reading type or printed text. Some studies suggest that people may experience greater emotional connection to handwritten materials because they perceive them as more authentic and personal.
Handwriting is more deliberate and intentional than typing or a printed label, so the recipient’s perception is that the writer is more intentional about the communication.
Because handwriting is done by humans, there is an association that the personal touch of writing conveys a sense of warmth and closeness not perceived in typed or printed materials. Handwritten notes become personal, unique, and carry those connotations to the reader.
Handwritten Marketing Strategies
Mother always told you to say thank you and send a note, and in business that simple courtesy can make impactful and lasting impressions.
Even in job interviews, many human resources people make candidate judgments whether they receive a thank-you note or not.
Handwritten notes build rapport with customers and differentiate you from competitors. They convey a personal touch and demonstrate that you value your customers and you’re willing to go the extra mile to make a connection.
Handwriting notes can be time-consuming and impractical for large-scale marketing or major events. Some strategists recommend saving handwritten materials for high-value customers or specific occasions, such as a post-purchase thank you or a customer milestone.
However, you can hire services that provide that personal touch at scale. Olde School Marketing, for example, engages a network of people to personally handwrite direct mail, greeting cards, and promotional letters.
In a Harvard Business Review article, HBR author John Coleman said value is amplified with handwritten notes. He refers to Robert Cialdini’s classic book, The Psychology of Persuasion, that profiled legendary car salesman Joe Girard, who sent monthly handwritten notes to all his clients. The messages were simple, such as “I like you,” but Joe credited the notes for his loyal customers. He said the frequent reminders demonstrated he valued their relationship.
Not Yet a Lost Art
Hannah Brencher has become a champion of sending handwritten notes and letters because they are powerful encouragement and inspiration. As a college student, she relocated to New York City and got lost in isolation and loneliness. It was only handwritten letters from her mother that kept her connected.
She went on to create Love Letters to Strangers, a volunteer organization that sends handwritten notes to struggling people.
In a digitized, impersonal world, handwritten notes are becoming a touchpoint for humanity. People burned out on digital communications and 100-plus daily emails enjoy the respite and comfort of a simple handwritten note.