It IS Personal

Direct mailer writers always talk about making our mail "personal". For us that means lots of "I, you, we", using a conversational tone, and, quite often, fudging the rules of grammar a bit. But the other day, a couple of things happened that reminded me that there is another way to keep things personal -- something it's all too easy to forget in this day and age of social media connections and conducting business by e-mail.

First, I ran into an acquaintance who runs an arts organization. She was thrilled because her group had just been notified that they were the recipients of a big grant. I congratulated her, and she told me this story:

"You know, we thought for sure we were out of the running this year. The group giving the grant just announced they were eliminating arts funding! So when I got word, I immediately called them up to say 'thank you'. The man in charge of granting the awards told me that he had gone against the new policy specifically for us because he remembered meeting our Executive Director and having a great conversation with her at an unrelated event. Personal connections really do count!"

Do they ever.

A similar thing happened to me a couple of months ago. A client I'd been working with for a couple of years went through some restructuring. They completely reevaluated all of their old contracts with an eye on reinventing their program from the ground up. I fully expected to lose the business.

But the Development Director called me up and asked that I stay on, one of the few contractors asked to do so. Now, I'm sure my strong work ethic and quality product played a part in that decision. But the tipping point?

I took the time while on a vacation in their city to stop by and meet the gang at their office.

This wasn't actually a calculated move on my part. At the time, I had no idea that they were planning on restructuring. I just wanted to be able to put faces to the e-mail addresses and conference call voices. But those couple of hours out of my vacation paid off.

Those face-to-face connections are important -- maybe even more so now that so many of us do business with people across the country...or across the globe. It might take a little extra time and effort, but the payoff could make it all worth it.