Generating Likeability Through The Mail

Thank You Note

You’ve Got Mail

I fully intended to sit down this morning and write an article on likeability when my day was interrupted by the mailman. Up until that time, everything was perfect. The article was titled and mind mapped (which is a right brained way to do an outline) and anxiously awaiting to be organized into an entertaining piece of classical literature. But as I mentioned above, the mailman interrupted my day.

Among the bills, marketing postcards and fan mail was a note addressed to me from Darbee Fisher. Darbee is a real estate agent for Keller Williams here on Maui. I met her for the first time ten days ago when my son Josh and I went to their office to teach the agents how to generate leads using advanced blogging techniques. Knowing that Josh was a full time Internet marketer and computer repair technician, Darbee hired him to repair her computer.

Here’s the note I received which was addressed to Bob and Susan Sommers

April 9, 2009

Dear Bob and Susan,

I just spent a good part of the day with Joshua, and what proud parents you deserve to be! Not only is he smart and good looking, but he is also one of the most respectful people I have ever met and he has absolutely the best manners of anyone I have ever met! It was pure joy to work with Josh and you can bet that he will be the first person I call when I need help and I will recommend him as often as I can!

With Aloha,

Darbee & Dr. Bob

I don’t know how long it took Darbee to hand write this note, but I do know that Susan and I and Josh will remember it and cherish it for a long, long time to come.

What’s The Lesson?

What I’m about to share next may seem obvious but I don’t want to take a chance that you miss anything. The note Darbee sent to me was a perfect example of how to use the United States Postal Service to build immediate and lasting likeability.

Do Not Send A Thank You Note To The Person You Want To Thank

Darbee FisherThis is pure genius and it’s overlooked by most of the people who send thank you cards and notes. Here’s why.

Josh is our 24 years old adult child and he hasn’t lived with us for years. He has his own life, his own business and his own mailing address. He sees his parents as often as most 24 year olds see their parents.  So why would Darbee send her note to us rather than directly to Josh?

Darbee could have sent the note to Josh and he would have been just as impressed with her as I was, but the value of the note would have stopped there. By sending the note to me and Susan, Darbee multiplied the effectiveness of her card by a factor of three or more.

Had she sent the note directly to Josh, he would have had no reason to share it with his parents or anyone else. So instead, she sent the note to Josh’s biggest fans, his parents.

As a parent you know that it does not matter how old your child is, you will never stop bragging about his or her achievements, even if you do it with the help of a refrigerator magnet. I couldn’t wait to share Darbee’s words with Josh and everyone else I knew, which is exactly what I’m doing in this article.

Now I’m not suggesting that you send every thank you note you write to someone’s parents, but I would encourage you to send it to the person closest to them. This could be their husband or wife, supervisor or even one of their bigger customers. Imagine the impact!

Hand Write The Note

Nothing says, “I care” more than a handwritten note. Darbee could have easily emailed the note in one quarter of the time and she could have sent it for free. Instead she made the effort to purchase a card, locate our mailing address, hand write the note and send it to us with an actual stamp through the mail. None of this went unnoticed.

Sending a thank you note via email is not a bad thing, far from it. A note sent via email is a thousand times better than not sending anything at all. There are times when sending a message via email is actually a better choice, but it will never have the impact of a handwritten note.

Compliment Their Character

Study after study shows that people, especially men, fall for flattery even if it isn’t true. And even though general compliments and platitudes work, they don’t hold the same weight as a specific, well thought out compliment.

In Darbee’s note she was very specific about what she appreciated about Josh.

Not only is he smart and good looking, but he is also one of the most respectful people I have ever met and he has absolutely the best manners of anyone I have ever met!

Refrigerator MagnetEvery parent loves to hear that their child is smart and good looking, but when Darbee mentioned that Josh was the best mannered person she had ever met, she hit a home run. Character compliments are the most meaningful compliments of all because they show that the person giving the compliment took the time to look below the surface. If you want to give a meaningful compliment, compliment someone on their good character.

Give The Benefit

The creme de la creme of this note was what Darbee said she was going to do based on her encounter with Josh.

It was pure joy to work with Josh and you can bet that he will be the first person I call when I need help and I will recommend him as often as I can!

When someone tells you what they are going to do for you, it creates a genuine feeling of reciprocity where you want to do something for them in return. I fully believe that Darbee will hire Josh again and tell everyone she knows about his service. I also know that Josh (and his parents) will do the same, and reciprocate by telling everyone he knows about the wonderful Darby Fisher.


Thank you notes have always been one of the most overlooked and underutilized ways to generate likeability and long lasting relationships. They only take a few minutes to write and the goodwill from your effort will last a lifetime. Do it now!


  • By Dondi Scumaci, February 4, 2010 @ 4:59 pm


    Wonderful article! Thank you!

    Greatful to Bob Burg for recommending this post. Mr. Burg has a way of finding the gems and holding them to the light, doesn’t he? This is a perfect example! A real gem.

    He also a great connector. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I can see why you come so highly recommended.

    All the best,
    Dondi Scumaci

    P.S. I am very tempted to write a thank you letter!

  • By Zee Visram, February 4, 2010 @ 5:17 pm

    Hi Bob. I’m a regular at but what is interesting is that I came upon this article via Bob Burg’s Facebook mention of this article. Thank you for taking the time to share this heartwarming and inspiring story. It has moved me to commit to take the time to write handwritten notes.


  • By moe conley, February 5, 2010 @ 7:13 am

    Bob…I totally agree and when I lost the ability to write due to a disability it seemed like one of my favorite things to do was a thing of the past. That is, until two weeks ago when my disability awarenss coach told me about I choose a card and font (my choices include one created with my own lettering and signature), type a personal message and they print & mail my card. Can you tell how excited I am about this technology? Handwritten notes do something wonderful for the sender and the receiver…a huge thank you to Bob Burg for the gentle nudge!!!

  • By Keith R Leitzen, February 5, 2010 @ 8:12 am

    Fantastic article and a wonderful marketing tip to go along with the generation of likability.

    Thank you. I look forward to reading more of your articles and usng this great tip in the future.

  • By Pamela Freeliain, February 5, 2010 @ 8:24 am


    I am a sender of cards (Sendoutcards distributor) and this is exactly showing the power of the handwritten note, that I advocate daily. I am also grateful to Bog Burg for always sharing and finding wonderful and quality content.


    Pamela Freelain

  • By Joe Vizi, February 5, 2010 @ 11:09 am

    Great post Bob! I am curious though: Would you have the same feelings and opinions if you received the exact same message on a printed card in Darbee’s own hand writing (like send out cards does)? Your answer, and anyone else’s opinion, would really help to provide me with some guidance on this issue.


  • By admin, February 5, 2010 @ 11:28 am

    Great questions Joe.
    I’m a huge fan of thank you cards Joe. In my opinion, I feel that a personal TYN purchased from the store in Darbee’s handwriting is the very best. A close second would be a SOC in Darbee’s handwriting. I think SOC is getting better and better at creating cards that look like I wrote them.

  • By moe conley, February 5, 2010 @ 11:58 am

    I am confused (and it doesn’t take much for that to happen). This question is for anyone who is willing to reply. What is the difference between a store bought card and one from SOC. Sounds like my first card should be sent to myself so I can see what it looks like.

  • By Michael J. Maher, February 5, 2010 @ 6:37 pm


    Love this post (and love Maui! – got Maui’d in Maui. =0). Bob Burg pointed me in your direction. My book, The 7 Levels of Communication: Go from Relationships to Referrals talks about the 7 Steps to a POWER Note and I encourage you to read it when it comes out – it is right (write?!) up your alley. I love the way you broke it down and recognized the power of writing about, rather than to, a contat you’ve met.

    Can’t wait to read the rest of your wonderful blog.


  • By Kellie Hosaka, February 7, 2010 @ 9:10 pm

    Mahalo (thank you) for the great reminder! In this age of high technology, we may often need to be reminded of how much a handwritten note can mean to someone.

    Also, I loved the fact that you pointed out that Josh was 24 and how it made you feel as parents and of course, Josh too! Wow, a lot of insightful tips!

    And yes, thank you to Bob Burg for referring us to your article.


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