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Perhaps you are applying for a new job, or thanking a long-time associate for a recent business lunch. Which delivery method will help you stand out more: paper or electronic? Recent data indicates that, across all media, Americans are exposed to some 3,000 messages per day, or more than 1 million per year. Probably the actual number is now far higher than that.

No email can duplicate the impact that a well-written letter or personalized stationery can generate in someone’s mailbox. There are three factors that make your handwritten card or letter stand out above electronic mail: (see Wed. for the third factor)

The Spam Factor

Can you really rely on the internet for guaranteed communications that will be read? There are several reasons that your email may not be seen, or seen but not read. The first reason is it may get caught in the wide net of junk filters. Some companies block emails from unknown domains altogether. Many legitimate emails disappear this way. But even if your email does arrive at its correct destination (which we know, most of them do), your recipient may not take the time to really read it. Overfull in-boxes plague most of today’s computer users. It is hard to get noticed in a sea of similar-looking messages. Conversely, the majority of people check their ‘real’ mailbox once a day and pay attention to items that are different than the usual household bills and sale advertisements.

The Touch Factor

This moment when your recipient is fingering through the mail stack is a crucial opportunity to stand out in the crowd. Paper can be seen and touched. The tactile sense is one that humans do not get to use that much in modern communications — where most information arrives via sight and sound. Conscious or not, the receiver is learning and processing information about each piece of mail as they sort via touch. Your letter can get noticed by sending an envelope in a unique texture, heavier weight or smooth coating or unusual shape or size. Adding a vibrant color can help the eye reinforce the message from the sensory touch to “Hey, read this!”

Read Part 2

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