You’re welcome. OK, it’s really about thank you

On October 16 I got to witness a great speech at the DMA conference. This wasn’t a presentation about a product or even instruction in direct marketing, but it was nevertheless an amazing presentation. The speaker, Hal Brierly, was being inducted into the DMA Hall of Fame. I don’t know Hal, who was listed as a pioneer in developing customer loyalty campaigns, but I certainly understand why he was inducted. He spoke for more than 20 minutes, but all he really said throughout the whole acceptance speech was “thank you.”

This wasn’t the Oscar acceptance where “thank you” seems to come from a list, where there are too many people to thank, and where we’re all thankful when the music starts because you know the winner will soon be ushered from the stage. In a word, it was not boring. It was certainly what he said, but also how he said it that stuck with me.  I learned three things from his speech about thank you.

1. It’s not about you. You really need to know your audience, whether its customers, employees, vendors or even just attendees at DMA. When you know something about them, actually place yourself in their shoes, “thank you” can mean so much more.  Knowledge of your audience is what separates you from those who give meaningless thanks; it shows that you’re someone who actually cares.

2. Be specific. If you know your audience, you don’t have to be general and vague in your thank you.  When you thank them for something specific, it gets remembered.  For instance, not just “thanks for helping”, but “thanks for working through the weekend to make sure we delivered on our promise to the customer.”  That ties your gratitude to something the employee did.

3. Go retro.  Social media is fantastic for many things. But Facebook, Twitter, and even emails and texts are not as effective as writing a handwritten note or speaking to someone in person. In today’s world there’s something special about a handwritten note. I bought some earrings for my Mom once and received a hand written note from the sales person. I make it a point of going back to that store for jewelry purchases. Yes, it works.

What does this have to do with direct marketing? Clearly, a lot. Studies reveal that when you say “thank you” to your customers, they will spend more money and tell their friends about the great service and products you deliver. Thanking employees boosts productivity and even thanking vendors yields the benefit of having them go the extra mile for you.

We’re busy. We live in a world that puts constant demands on us all. There are many reasons why we don’t do it as often as we should. All these reasons mean we should actually be saying thank you more than we do. I want to thank Hal for reminding me of that and for the lessons learned. And I want to thank you for reading.

John Sisson is president of Universal Wilde. Learn more about Universal Wilde via the company’s blog. Read more from John in Direct by Design.

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