Advice: Send Awesome (Snail) Mail

Yes, pitching editors and sending CDs to Pitchfork is important. But what about the CDs and shirts you’re mailing out to your customers? How do you treat the people who are actually putting money in your pocket? (HINT: I hope it’s more fun than what you’re sending to Pitchfork)

When you’re small you can go the extra mile. When you care, it doesn’t seem like extra effort. I’m talking hand written notes, or extra goodies tossed in with a paid order.

Some bands and labels treat this very “business class;” here’s your CD in a padded envelope. End of transaction. Meh.

In late 2013, one of my Skull Toaster readers ordered a CD from this doom band in Seattle, WA called Giza. They sent him an extra copy with a hand written note saying something like, “give it to a friend.“

So this reader got in touch with me and we did a give-away on Skull Toaster with that extra copy, exposing that band to a whole new audience that loves and appreciates that sort of music. And now they’re linked here, too. Funny how that can work, huh?

Johnny Cupcakes throws candy and other goodies into random orders. Why? Eh, why not?

I said something nice about MailChimp on Twitter awhile back and they sent me a t-shirt and a hat. Why? Again, why not? People love getting stuff in the mail, right?

If you can make someone feel special, do that. If you can add some delight to someone’s day, what the heck are you waiting for? Permission? There’s enough doom and gloom in everyone’s social media feeds. Why not put something unexpected and awesome in someone’s mailbox?

I recently took part in an online service with a company I used for the past few years. At the end of the survey they said they’d send me a shirt. Oh, fun!

Well, I got the shirt, but I noticed it was sent from a fulfillment company (the return address actually said fulfillment company). Instead of a hand-written note or stickers, there was a tiny "filler invoice,” with a literal $0.00 charge. No one at the company I did the survey with touched this. It was automated. 

A team of unpaid interns can do something like that. There was no magic.
Compare that to my friend Travis, who tells me all the time about ordering from a tiny label (kidding) called Dischord and the hand-written thank-you notes they include. 

If anyone is too busy to write handwritten notes, it’s them. Delighting your mail order customers is like out-running bear; you only have to be faster than your friends (your competitors). In a world of me-too, copy-cat operations doing the bare-minumum to skate by, going just above and beyond isn’t really that much work.

Seth Werkheiser is the quiz master of metal trivia at Skulltoaster. He’s also the founder of some music sites you may have heard of, including Noise Creep (2009) + Buzzgrinder (2001). He’s anti-Facebook, anti-clickbait, and anti-growth hacking. You should most definitely follow him on Twitter. Yes, right now.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.