Mind Your Manners: 'Thank You' Is a Powerful Marketing Device

It Can Win Consumers Over and Is Budget-Friendly

By Published on .

On so many creative briefs, we see the same objectives over and over. Build awareness, create that elusive thing called buzz, grow topline sales, increase customer loyalty.

When's the last time you saw a creative brief that instructed: thank our customers?

For many of us, the answer is probably never. Our efforts are always so focused on asking for the order, or gaining likes or fans or friends, or inviting the consumer to attend, save, sign up, share -- all of this in anticipation of a purchase. Let's be honest. We're salespeople, really.

That's why I wanted to share a particularly simple and moving experience from my recent purchase from Toms Shoes.

My daughter loves these shoes, so I bought her a pair online. Like many parents, I spent less than five minutes on this transaction. I'm running an agency, after all. She said red canvas, and within minutes, the deed was done.

I caught a fleeting glimpse of Toms' mission to provide a free pair of shoes for underprivileged kids with every pair purchased. Of course, my daughter already knew all of this and beyond buying some red canvas coolness, she was also buying into the mission. In the adult world, Toms asks us to participate in our own recollection of this through A Day Without Shoes and other events. The product was going to allow her to participate in global giving in a way that she, at age 13, could not.

My transaction had more to do with commerce than care. Until the box came.

Nothing special really, except that folded up inside the box was a simple letter. On brown parchment paper and faux hand printed, this letter simply said thank you. Thank you for allowing our company to fulfill its promise to provide shoes to people who can't afford them. Thank you for being a customer and in doing so, allowing the simple act of owning canvas shoes to be something more.

The letter was a better tool for branding and reselling than any tweet, pop-up or product placement. Without relying on the rest of the communications mix, it succeeded in simply restating the brand's purpose and the customer's part in it. And now, I've shared it with all of you, even though the brand didn't ask for a "share." It's pinned with a thumbtack to my daughter's wall, gaining fans one teenage brand impression at a time, even though the brand didn't throw an online party to gain "Likes."

Big brands are starting to say thanks publically. Heineken thanked its Facebook fans by sending out a viral video to their 1 million-plus audience. Domino's and Taco Bell exposed their quality issues and thanked the public for being the catalyst for making them better. These are grand gestures, and you can decide for yourself whether they're meaningful for the efforts they support. But dollars are being devoted to thanks. And "thank you" is powerful. It's good business and good form. It acknowledges that consumers have taken action -- instead of continuing to just ask for action.

As small agencies, sometimes our clients truly are budget challenged. That means they need us all the more, to have that insight that leads to impressions in the small spaces that move them toward their larger goals. Write a brief for saying thanks, and see what you get. Maybe it's your client's next brand campaign.

Michelle Edelman is president of NYCA, Solana Beach, Calif.
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