Mom Was Right – “Please and Thank-You” Matter

Posted on Jun 18, 2009 by Kerry O'Malley

I guess I’m dating myself to say that my Mom taught me that I should  always say “please and thank you” and that when you’ve made a  mistake, “I’m sorry” is necessary. She taught me that when someone  does something nice for you, or gives you a gift, you acknowledge it  with a formal thank you, and often with a card.  She taught me that when you screw up, you need to take responsibility and apologize.  Many times, this can also be done with a written note.

This communication etiquette seems to be going the way of the dinosaurs, particularly with the younger generation.  I can’t tell you how many graduation and wedding gifts I’ve given over recent years that I’ve never received a thank you card for.  I’ve also noticed that young people these days seem to find it almost impossible to admit they’ve done something wrong. I suppose you can attribute this partially to immaturity, but I also see a link between communication etiquette’s decline and the substitution of emails, text messages, tweets, and Facebook postings for hand written communication of any kind.

I think most people like to feel appreciated, and certainly like to be thanked when they’ve given of their time, talent, or financial resources for someone else.  When we feel we’ve been taken advantage of or there’s been a misunderstanding that caused us to feel slighted, an apology goes a long way toward rebuilding the relationship.  In our personal lives, most people who had mothers like mine try to practice this form of etiquette.  I find it is practiced less in business, and will likely become even less practiced as the younger generation moves up the ladder in the business world.

When’s the last time you received a handwritten note from a business associate?  My guess is, you don’t even remember.  If you have gotten a note lately, I bet you remember who sent it and why.  I’ve always seen the simple hand written note as a form of – yes – marketing communications.  When I started my business over ten years ago, along with my business cards, letterhead, and other marketing collateral, I had some custom note cards with my logo printed. Every time I meet with a new prospective customer, they receive a hand written note from me, thanking them for their time and for giving me the opportunity to present my company to them.  I’ve used the cards to offer condolences, congratulations, and other sentiments to vendors and customers.

If you’re looking for one more way to stand out from your competition, consider printing some note cards – and start using them.  When you personally express appreciation, congratulations, or even condolences, it not only helps to build a better relationship with the person you send the note to, it also says you’re a person of character.

Here are some occasions where note cards can be used:

– Thank you for a meeting

– Thank you for a lunch or dinner

– Thank you for a referral

– Thank you for a big order

– Looking forward to working with you when you get a new account

– Congratulations on a promotion, big deal, new facility

– Condolences (most people really DO appreciate a brief “sorry for your loss” when someone they love has passed – even from a business associate.)

– Apologies (whether the mistake or slight was small or large, when a person acknowledges their responsibility it usually does make a difference.)

Are these forms of communication really marketing?  I say yes, because every one of them will leave a positive impression on the receiver.  Every one of them puts your name and your company’s name in front of the receiver and gives them one more reason to choose to do business with YOU.  Most of the time, people don’t do business with companies – they do business with people.  Follow Mom’s advice, even in business – it could pay off!


Author: Kerry O'Malley

Marketects was founded in 1999 by Kerry O’Malley, a proven marketing communications professional in international, manufacturing companies. Working on the “other side of the desk,” she hired ad agencies to manage her employers’ advertising and P/R programs. Frustrated over the lack of attention and level of enthusiasm she was looking for in the marketing agencies she worked with, Kerry realized that there was a definite need for a full-service marketing firm that specialized in working with industrial companies. She resolved that her clients would always receive the highest level of service possible and never feel like the last kid chosen for the team.

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