After starting our business in July of 1984, it only took about a month for Dave and I to realize there were some idiosyncrasies involved. I was a perfectionist and Dave was an antagonist.
After mentioning to him that I thought it was important that the labels on the mail we were sending out should be put on straight (perfectionist), his response was to slowly and very carefully hover the label over the envelope, being meticulous about proper placement…and then right at the last moment twisting everything as he stuck the label down (antagonist). And then he would hit it with his fist as if to say “There, nobody is going to move that crooked label.” He had the same tendency with the stamp.
So, fast forward 36 years and it’s Christmas time. We continue to see the value in hand addressed Christmas card envelopes to our clients, vendors and friends, but clearly don’t allow Dave to participate in this area.
My daughter Tiffany, who lives in Hawaii with her husband, came back to the mainland to visit us from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. With a little time on her hands, I asked if she would be willing to hand address 160 Christmas envelopes for J.W. Morton. She agreed and I told her there was only one stipulation—the name and address needed to be straight on the envelope.
My wife gave her a white pen from her scrapbooking desk which was a nice upgrade on the green envelopes. She thought she had a template to help align handwritten notes but couldn’t locate it.
And then it began.
It’s all in the details
In place of a template, I gave Tiffany my tiling laser from our bathroom remodel. In short order she figured out the best way to position each envelope, so the laser laid down a line perfectly square to word.
Next, she found a “handwritten” font she liked and a website that allowed her to type in each person’s name so she could see it on screen in the selected font.
Then she would write the name in pencil mimicking the font. Once happy with the pencil execution she would go over the top of it with the white pen. She then would write out the rest of the address in her own handwriting and erase any pencil lines.
Insert the Christmas card, seal the envelope and last, but not least, apply a round Poinsettia stamp—no way you can put that on crooked!
So, in the end we’re investing time and effort in envelopes that will likely be relegated to the trash within minutes. Why? Simple—because it’s important to us.
Because even for the 30 seconds or so that the mail is in the hand of the recipient, the handwriting will stand out from the rest. In today’s fast-paced world and its constant barrage of digital messages, emails and impersonal form letters, receiving something handwritten feels special.
Is a handwritten envelope helping our bottom line? Not in an immediate sense, but it does help convey our brand promise of the importance of personal relationships. We value our relationship with the company or person receiving the card. And in the end, our relationship-focused brand helps us sell our services.
Small opportunities can lead to big results
What’s important to your company and your brand? This is a good reminder to constantly be looking for those little ways you can make your brand stand out. In addition to your quarterly marketing plans and yearly forecasts, don’t forget to consider how smaller intentional acts can have a significant impact over time.
Thanks to Tiffany for helping us reinforce our JWM brand this holiday season. Now that I’ve shared our method to writing in a straight line, I’m sure this will be the way everyone does it in the future.