Beyond the Build

Customer Relationships

It’s Still About the Basics

Another college football signing day is on the books. For coaches, getting there is always a long process.

Throughout the year, coaching staffs scrambled to reach good prospects to fill the rosters. Sure, text messaging and social media conversations are a part of the plan, but a recent Wall Street Journal article reported that more and more coaches are going low tech. They’re writing letters, sent via snail mail.

The notes are handwritten and might include a motivational quote or congratulations on good grades–anything to make a connection. The actual message of the note isn’t the main thing that matters. It’s that players know the coaches are thinking about them. It also keeps the schools stay top of mind with the recipients. The NCAA places no restriction on how much a school can spend on mail, so top recruits have piled up some serious mail.

For years, I have believed in the handwritten note, even when others evolved to email. In fact, I have 4 types of stationery that I use depending on the situation. I try to reach out to those in need, congratulate those who have been successful and connect with folks who just need a note. Over the years, I have walked the halls with some of our corporate clients, and inevitably someone will remember a letter or note I wrote years ago, maybe still on their bulletin board. That just doesn’t happen with text messages.

A few other advantages of going low tech with letters:

  • The recipient doesn’t feel pressure to reply right away.
  • The time taken to handwrite a letter, address and send proves a personal investment.
  • Letters provide something tangible. People often keep or display them. They can hold and easily share.
  • In the case of postcards, there’s not even the trouble of opening an envelope.

In the world of electrons, everyone tries to do more with less. Sure, emails are appropriate at times. But at the end of the day, nothing will replace a personal note. The touch is what’s so important, so that we show differently and gain more opportunities. It’s not easy, but then again nothing worthwhile is easy.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.