Everything Old is New Again…… and Ironic

Don’t throw the past away,  You might need it some rainy day.

Dreams can come true again,  Cause everything old is new again.  – Peter Allen

Stephen King said it. Peter Allen sang it. The New York Times published it. The list of sources who have expressed a similar thought is endless. The idea is essential to the human condition … as we move forward, thoughts and ideas circle back until they are re-discovered, re-invented, and re-appreciated. This has been going on for centuries. Millennia.

Since GetSynchronicity is in the business of creating and producing interactive marketing programs for tradeshow, events, and meetings, I encounter this phenomenon routinely. When we have an internal brainstorm, one of my creatives will inevitably come up with an idea that, after some thought and/or research, is “old,” and been done before (usually by us). There is precious little new under the sun (ANOTHER well-worn quote).

This blog post is not an admonishment to cast “old/new” ideas aside … quite the contrary; an old idea is often the perfect solution for a new challenge. Of course, it will most likely need revising and updating, but just because the idea is “old” shouldn’t cause you to dismiss it out of hand.

These musings were prompted by something I read in another blog … yes, I acknowledge the existence of other blogs. This other blog suggested implementing an “old” practice as a “new” way to connect with prospects and customers. I immediately recognized this idea as a tactic we had implemented for several clients “in the old days,” but I was pleased to be reminded of it. Then the “irony” I mentioned in the title of this post set in.

The “old” idea is this: after meeting with a new prospect–which, for my clients, means the engagements generated at tradeshows or conferences–rather than send them a Thank You email or text, you send them a handwritten note. That’s right, a note written BY HAND, on paper, slipped into an envelope … with a stamp affixed … addressed by hand, and mailed through the post. Radical, no?

Gone are the days when each day, you sort through your mail to find several “letters” from “people” sending you “news” and continuing a “conversation” about their “lives.” (I went “quotation-mark crazy there, but you get the picture.)

Upon consideration, the idea is not “old” at all. In fact, it is a common practice in major tourist destinations (including New York and Chicago) for a server in a restaurant to include a postcard with your bill so you can send a quick note to someone and say nice things about that establishment. And if the card is not given to you directly, you may be given access to a wall of postcards from which you are free to take as many as you’d like.

This is a valid, cost-effective marketing tactic. If I visited with a company at a tradeshow, and then a few days later I received a handwritten note from a rep thanking me for my time and suggesting a source for the information I wanted, I would be highly motivated to follow-up on that engagement. At the very least, I would be EQUALLY motivated compared with receiving an email, but the engagement would cut through the clutter.

There’s more to discuss about this concept, but I’ll leave it at that … consider it an idea for free. Feel free to use it, and feel free to ask us how to use it strategically.

But now, the ironic part. It didn’t take much research to discover that there are now several online services that will send those handwritten notes out FOR you. Heck, Gmail has a service that will do it.

And thus, the irony. Here is an “old” idea that revisits the days when sales follow-up was more personal, more direct, and, dare I say it, more personal, that has been commoditized and consumed by “The Internet of Things.”

The “Personal touch” has been automated.

So the next time you consider an “old” solution for a new challenge, remember … there may be an even “newer” way to make it happen.