Building Your Business with Gratitude

In the United States we are two weeks shy of our national Thanksgiving holiday, a celebration that can be traced to an autumn harvest feast held by the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians in 1621 at Plymouth. Giving thanks is an important cultural tradition, and similar celebrations of the harvest occur in countries throughout the world.

These days, Thanksgiving has been appropriated as a marketing opportunity in the United States and other countries. Now people send out mass emails or cards to thank customers for their business. I applaud this practice, but I don’t think it ultimately goes far enough.

I send cards out around Thanksgiving, but I don’t wait for Thanksgiving to send out notes of gratitude to my clients and prospects.  If you are relying on a mass mailing to express your thanks, you will not be reaping the full benefits that accrue when you show true gratitude.

By true gratitude I mean taking time to express your thanks regarding a specific incident or aspect of the relationship that you genuinely value, something that is specific to that customer. (In other words, not merely “Thank you for your business.”) I happen to think that sending a hand-written note makes the greatest impact. It shows that you took some time and that communicating with your customer is a priority for you. As a Sales and Leadership expert, I have seen that this works. The small things are often very big things indeed.

All of us struggle to stay at the forefront of our customers’ and prospects’ minds so that when a need arises they think of us first.  A mass mailing expressing your gratitude only accomplishes that goal for the week of Thanksgiving. Soon it is thrown away and forgotten.

A hand-written note specific to a particular client, however, usually doesn’t make it to the trash bin. It may be put in a file, but often it is meaningful enough to be placed on the client’s desk or credenza.  That is the best product placement strategy you can have.  Even if the note does get put in a file, you can at least count on it having a place in your client’s mind, jogging their memory at critical moments.

My goal is to write three thank you cards a day to colleagues, vendors, and customers for something significant and letting them know what they mean to me.  Like you, my schedule is hectic, and that means I often do not reach my goal of three cards per day.  But every week I am sending out thank you cards. I have seen that a few hand-written thank you cards go a long way and easily exceed the ROI of a mass mailing.

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, consider these questions: Who and what in your life are you thankful for? Who deserves a well-timed card from you? This type of thanksgiving is done year round—not just in November. Make gratitude a priority. Send your first hand-written thank you note this week.

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