Is the Pen still Mighty?

I love the ease of communicating via email, Facebook, Twitter, text, and IM.
I love the ease at which these technologies allow us to market our products and services.

We can communicate with each other, whether across the hall or around the globe, at speeds once never imagined.

This ease, while extremely powerful, is obviously far from perfect. Emails are misinterpreted, people are posting things they shouldn’t on Facebook/Twitter, a whole website is dedicated to text message snafus (, and embarrassing IMs are sent to wrong people every day.

Does all of this just become noise? Have we become over loaded by far too much inbound communications?

As a marketer, who is trying to get my companies message in front of current and prospective customers, this noise and overload is something I frequently think about.

While at the Bazaarvoice Social Commerce Summit this past April, I was soaking in all the ways companies are using user generated content to cut through the noise and get their messages to customers. Since I was meeting many new folks at the summit and I planned to follow-up with everyone I met, I started to think about my email follow-ups and how they might just be “noise” to other summit attendees who would surely be getting email follow-ups from many of the other folks they met. (I could do a whole separate post re: good vs. bad post conference follow-up, so stay tuned for that one.)

It was the thought of cutting through the noise that sparked my current experiment/project. I picked a few folks I met at the summit and sent them post cards. Yes, actual card stock paper postcards with actual pen/ink written notes. I logged (thanks Google docs) my first batch and patiently waited to see what kind of response I would get. My ideal response would have been a hand written note or postcard back, but I was hoping for at least a response just slightly beyond the typical “yes, great to meet you as well” email.

The results of the first send were 50/50. The best response was an email back which thanked me for the card. The other extreme was a total non-response. This one really surprised me as it was to someone who is a huge proponent of word of month and other odd/interesting manners of marketing.

I could have easily stopped there, but I decided to continue the experiment. In the last two months, I’ve had a few cool responses, many non-responses, and no one has sent me a postcard yet. (I continue to send out cards.)

What do you think? Is the pen still mighty?

1 comment

  1. Yes! I’m a big believer in it, especially when the mail medium has gone from clutter to stutter – there’s nothing in the mail worthwhile, save for handwritten notes.

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