The Power of Gratitude in Marketing

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thank you

We received a letter in the mail recently at our home.  It was from AT&T (and full disclosure is a client) addressed to my family who has multiple cell phone plans with the company.  Upon opening I found a simple thank you letter from the Vice President and General Manager with responsibility over our local area.  I was struck by its simplicity and sincerity, thanking us for being a customer and “part of AT&T”.  It mentioned a site to learn more, but the essence of the message was simply “Thank You”, with no limited time offers, promotions, or brightly colored inserts falling out of the envelope; just gratitude.


Thank you letter1

With the competitive nature of marketing where every dollar needs to have return on investment, tracking, response mechanisms and more, I wonder how daring it must have been at AT&T for someone to propose a radical idea:  “Hey, let’s thank our customers with a simple note”.  Crickets…or resistance.  With the expense of mailing alone, I’m sure there was someone who questioned it as another fluffy marketing idea.


I recalled as a Customer Loyalty marketing manager at Whirlpool I’ve proposed and tested the very same thing in the early days of loyalty marketing.  Yes, it was met with skepticism, but with a budget for testing and learning, it was something I wanted to test.  Would a simple, small thank you note — with no promotions, offers, brand hype or call to action — have any effect on our relationship with consumers?  We pulled consumer names from recent warranty card lists and mailed to 50 – 100 thousand… enough to be statistically significant at .95 against a control group from the same time period.  Then we waited.


We waited and tracked for 12 months.  We found a statistically significant increase in follow on purchases from the group we thanked in a simple way.  Amazing.  Gratitude has an impact.


Reciprocity has been studied by social scientists for decades and found that positive, sincere behavior is often met with positive behavior in return.  We see this occur in reverse with negative experiences generating negative reviews and social media exposure too, so it’s nice to know that positive, unexpected experiences can also generate positive returns.


We’re testing a thank you gift program now with another client, and expect to see positive results from that unexpected gesture.  Consider how simple acts of gratitude might be perceived coming from your local dealers, agents and channel partners.  Consider the positive impact it can have on your brand.  The power of simple gratitude has been tested, so incorporating thank you templates in your adbuilder and local marketing can be effective if you resist the skeptics.

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