SD #44 | The Power of Expressing Gratitude: From Online Content to Snail Mail Thank You Notes

#customer retention #gratitude #persistence May 29, 2023
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Read Time: 4.0 minutes 


Making the extra effort to say thanks in a genuine, personal manner 
goes a long way.

  —  Sir Richard Branson


What’s the Tip?

Today's tip is to practice gratitude. It's a particularly fitting tip to share on Memorial Day as Americans express deep gratitude for the fallen who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Gratitude has been on our minds much of this past week as it's one of the five human qualities we highlight in our book, Win With Decency. We've been conducting a daily read along of our book, which makes the business case for humility, empathy, vulnerability, gratitude, and generosity. We take these five human qualities that we generally associate with being a good person and show you how they can be competitive advantages in business.

Humility, empathy, and vulnerability tend to get a fair amount of attention when it comes to things like leadership, communication, persuasion, and organizational behavior. But gratitude? Not so much.

When it comes to gratitude, there are infinite ways to think about it. We'll focus on the following two ways: there’s experiencing gratitude and then there’s expressing gratitude. British author G.K. Chesterton speaks to the experience of gratitude when he writes that “gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” Sir Richard Branson speaks to the expression of gratitude when he says that “making the extra effort to say thanks in a genuine, personal manner goes a long way.” In this blogpost, we'll focus on the power of expressing gratitude in growing your business.


How Do You Use It?

When it comes to expressing gratitude, we have to start with the vehicles we most commonly use. The primary vehicle today is expressing gratitude online. Email and social media are two of the most prominent ways to do that. So, expressing gratitude could be as simple as sending an email to all your subscribers saying, "thanks for being a subscriber. As an appreciation of your support, here's a free PDF on X."

Another way to use gratitude is on social media. Here's a super easy but highly effective way to say thanks while reinforcing your brand and what you stand for. This works especially well on Twitter: "thanks to everyone who has started a side hustle, while still working their 9-5." Or, "thanks to everyone who continues to keep going in the face of adversity." For these expressions of gratitude to work, they have to be genuine and have to align with your brand voice and tone.

But to make gratitude a true competitive advantage, don't wait for inspiration to express gratitude. Build it into your content creation calendar by setting aside one post a week simply to say thanks. Your expressions of gratitude are one-offs but become part of who you are, what you stand for, and what your audience begins to anticipate and expect. 


What's an Example? 

We've just given you some online examples of how to express gratitude. Super simple. Super powerful. But what if you expressed gratitude in a completely different way? What if you went in a completely opposite direction? Enter the power of the age-old "thank you note."

Yeah, that kind of thank you note. The one you handwrite yourself and then plop in the mail. The one that takes several days to get to the recipient. The one that's incredibly inefficient but profoundly personal. That thank you note.

Here's one example we experienced ourselves several years ago that was totally unexpected. Check out the postcard we received after joining the community of a U.K. content marketing firm called Atomic.

Honestly, the front of the card would have been more than enough. But these guys went one step farther.

 As you can see, it’s a handwritten thank you note from the founders of the company—Andrew and Pete—as well as Heather, our point of contact.

As we note in our book, we kept the card. We shared it on social media. We blogged about it. We shared the love. There are plenty of competitors in Atomic’s space. But it’s this expression of gratitude in the form of a handwritten thank you note that made us feel like valued customers and in turn, made them stand out.

In our book, we share an example of a former CEO of Campbell's Soup, Doug Conant, who sent 30,000 handwritten thank you notes to his workforce over the course of his tenure at the helm. People who save them and keep them on their PCs or at their desks for years. 

At a time when technology affords greater opportunities to target and segment consumers, this is what personal looks like in personalization. Obviously, taking this route is more time-consuming and it requires asking for - and being given - not just an email address, but a physical address as well. Getting an email address is hard enough! 


What's the Benefit to You?

The primary business benefit of gratitude is the opportunity to deepen your relationship with your customer or client which can help lead to higher rates of retention. Acquiring new customers is hard enough but keeping them is where the real work begins. Gratitude is a way to help you do just that. 

But there's a second benefit as well. Gratitude is a skill like anything else. The more your practice it, the better you'll get at it. Gratitude actually makes you stronger as a persona and as a brand. You're able to be present in the moment which increases focus and helps minimize distractions. Both are key in good decision-making. Gratitude helps you keep going. You're less likely to focus on what you don't have and instead focus on what you do have. Gratitude helps you survive to fight another day.



  1. 🤝 Expressing gratitude can help foster good relationships with clients or customers. It can go a long way to enhancing retention rates.

  2. 💻 The primary method for expressing gratitude today is online, with email and social media being the most prominent. Two ways to do that include, sending a thank you email to subscribers or expressing gratitude on social media that aligns with your brand voice and tone.

  3. 🗓️ Build gratitude posts into your content creation calendar, dedicating one post a week or perhaps every 2 weeks simply to saying, 'thanks".

  4. ✍️ Consider expressing gratitude through a handwritten thank you note. It's a more personal and memorable way of appreciation, though it is more time-consuming.

  5. 💼 Expressing gratitude not only helps in retaining customers but also makes a business stronger as a brand. Gratitude encourages focus, reduces distractions, and aids in decision making.

  6. 💪 Gratitude helps in persistence and survival. It shifts focus from what you lack to what you have.


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