Writing a touching letter to customers: A three-step guide
2008 was an unforgettable year for the world. The financial crisis that began that year was so severe that it uprooted centuries old banks, shut down businesses, forced many people to live hand-to-mouth, and even to migrate to cheaper places. When the markets were falling apart during this economic upheaval, can you imagine the fate of a prosperous brand like Starbucks that was on a downward spiral simultaneously with the crisis? It is a brand that sells one of the most admired espressos in the west. It was also a brand that compromised on quality for business expansion during this period. By the time the company realized that they failed in delivering the promise to serve the best espresso, it was too late for them to orchestrate damage control. But, as the classic maxim goes – better late than never, one Tuesday afternoon in February that year, the company closed more than seven thousand stores indefinitely and put up a letter on the locked doors saying:
Great espresso requires practice.
That’s why we’re dedicating ourselves to honing our craft.”
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Apart from the meticulously planned and well executed business revival strategy, what stood out for us is the bunch of words that the brand put up on the closed doors. Shortly, the brand could reclaim its customers and was lauded for making its coffee better. Being branding professionals at an elemental level, we sometimes wonder as to the stunning power of a small letter compared to an advert or a huge campaign. Emotional letters, notes and e-mails to customers simply amaze us sometimes.
Twelve years later.
2020 is a mightier nightmare than 2008. The entire world took a break in turns just to survive the COVID 19 pandemic. Business activity was restricted, brick and mortar stores were closed indefinitely, people stayed at home for months, goods production was halted and businesses ran out of money. Like any other brand, Entireworld (known for its sweatpants and loungewear) feared extinction. The CEO decided to send across a message to their customers about the uncertain situation. He wrote:
“Am I sick already? Can I leave my house?
What do I tell my employees?
Will my mom be OK on her flight home today? Can Zod” —
Sternberg’s dog — “get coronavirus?
Did I buy enough T.P.? How long will this last?
Who’s in charge? What’s next?”
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He went on writing an emotional letter. The email worked better than any advert. Reportedly, by the end of that month, Entireworld saw a record 662% rise in its sales and they ran out of sweatpants. The pandemic caused a problem to the brand that sells sweatpants, and the pandemic itself became a solution. The pandemic restricted people to home, which meant work-from-home, which inturn meant there is a need for more sweatpants.
That’s how an emotional letter conveys a message. So here are the steps to write such and such a letter/note/e-mail to your people:
Step 1: Get brutally honest.
Step 2: Make a note of what you want to tell your customers. Rewrite.
Step 3: Print/hit send.
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