That's what the sidebar on my Facebook page told me this morning. It thanked me for bringing my friends and contacts to Facebook.
It took me a moment to realize why I was a bit annoyed with it, and why this ill conceived thank you was a waste of page space and bandwidth. It could have been that I woke up in a bad mood, but I spent all last night playing with explosives, so that's really not all that likely. No, what dawned on me as the root of my ire is that a thank you is supposed to be a personal thing, so this one really didn't mean anything to me. It was as easy to ignore it or be annoyed with it as it is to ignore or find irritation with common advertising, because that's what it was.
How often we in this industry are guilty of the same thing.
Let's look at a hypothetical situation:
On your property there is a row of town homes. Due to the age of the town homes, the time has come for routine maintenance in replacing their deck coverings, which means that your residents cannot park in their driveways for the time that the decks are being worked on because of potential damage to their cars. The process takes two weeks, and undoubtedly causes much annoyance to the residents in these town homes because now, not only are they not allowed to use their decks, but they have to haul their groceries across the complex as well. You have communicated with every resident in a friendly and respectful AND Empathetic manner throughout the process, but you feel that it might be wise to thank them for their patience at the end of the project. What is the best way to thank them?
A. Put a note in the news letter thanking your town home residents for their patience and understanding while your company has been making improvements to increase the quality of life at your community.
B. Print out letters, using mail merge, that are person specific, but that all say the same thing, as a thank you and have the porter deliver them by taping them to the door.
C. Hand write a thank you to each of the town homes, even though it takes a lot of time, and have one of the leasing staff hand deliver them to the residents.
What's the correct answer? I can tell you that the answer most usually used is option A or B, because we are busy people and have a lot of stuff to do, so taking 5 minutes to put it in the news letter is the easiest thing and taking 3 minutes to run copies of a letter is even simpler. But is it the best idea? I think it's great to put a blurb in the newsletter, but I don't think that it's enough. You have to take that extra step in to remarkablity, otherwise, you're just the status quo. Option C is the one I would recommend. It's personal, it's professional, and it's the only one of the three that is a real thank you. It's also the only one of the three that your resident will remember or "hear."
A real thank you doesn't have ulterior motives. Sometimes when we make a public show of "Thank You" it's not to thank other people, but to make sure we have an audience who SEES us thank other people. That is just classless.
A real thank you is honest and genuine, not just something we say because we think we should, or because "It's good PR."
Real thank yous come at times that are unexpected, spontaneous, and, most of all, appropriate.
A real thank you does not thank with one side of the mouth and advertise with the other. WORD OF MOUTH is what thank yous can earn for the giver, but it is crucial for the giver to remember that it is not their own mouth from which these words come and they are not allowed to control what is said.
Real thank yous are written or delivered with the receiver in mind, not the giver.
And lastly, remember that your thank you doesn't count if you're using Mail Merge.