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Is Letterhead Dead?

Happy New Year everyone!  Here’s a toast to a return to normalcy in 2021.

When I started in envelope and print sales in the late 80’s, it was axiomatic that any large company   regardless of their type of business would at least order a decent volume of letterhead and letterhead envelopes for general business correspondence.

With the advent of e mail and the convenience of digital communication, typewritten paper correspondence declined significantly.  And to the extent that it still exists, much of it is printed on regular paper with a computer-generated logo and address template.  Even signatures are now widely done digitally which has further reduced the need for a “hard copy”.

So, are the days of sending out business and personal letters behind us?  Not so fast.  There are good reasons to continue this practice both from an aesthetic and practical standpoint. Here are a few, based on what I’ve seen in the marketplace.

Superior Connection to Your Customers - How many e mails do you get in a day?  Raise your hand if it’s too many.  Yes, I see you nodding your head!  We get bombarded with digital messages looking to sell us stuff, not just via e mail but on our social media feeds as well. The sheer number of messages can be numbing and cause us to turn off.  Business consultants make a lot of money advising people to disconnect from their devices in order to focus properly.

What does all this have to do with letterhead you may ask?  Well, when the message you’re trying to send a customer or potential customer is seen more as a distraction at best or annoyance at worst, you have a problem. How to differentiate your message from that pile of noise?  You might try sending a personal letter or note.  What used to be commonplace is now perceived as special.  Doing so will greatly improve the chances of your pitch being read.  It may even sit on someone’s desk (or countertop) for a while for later reference. 

Showing You Care – When I say letterhead, I’m referring to something on nice-looking paper, not the pseudo-letterhead that comes off your computer printer. The look and feel of the paper by itself communicates a message which roughly is, “I’ve spent a few bucks and taken the time to send you this letter because we have something special to offer and I really want to do business with you”. Of course, the presentation and how the message is worded is a big part of that.  But human beings possess a tactile sense.  And fine paper is no different than fine cloth on a garment or fine leather on a car seat; it says something that’s appealing and desirable.

Increasing Your Chances for Further Discussion – In a sales cycle, an initial message or ad is sent or posted with subsequent follow up.  In the case of an ad, we’re looking for in-bound leads to a landing page or our website. In the case of an individual message through direct mail, we will typically follow up with a phone call or perhaps an e mail.  When you’ve sent someone a proper letter on nice letterhead, it creates a sense of reciprocity at least to the extent that the courtesy of a reply will be considered because you “showed you cared”.  You’re more likely to get someone to pick up the phone and chat for a few minutes when they received your letter rather than yet another e mail that they may not even be aware of because it got caught in their spam filter.

I believe every business should invest in a supply of finely printed letterhead and matching envelopes on special paper stock.  Today’s digital printers can produce very attractive four-color printing even on small quantities to fit the needs of small businesses. 

Give my suggestions a try in 2021 and let me know how it works for you!

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