Jesse Stein

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auto dealers use handwritten notes to kill it in marketing

The direct mail advertising market is projected to grow from $71.57 billion in 2021 to $72.67 billion in 2022,” reported Direct Mail Advertising Global Market Report 2022. Are you marketing with handwriting?

When was the last time you received a handwritten note? If it’s been a while, you’re not alone. Handwritten notes are becoming increasingly rare, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t wildly effective tools for communication. In fact, handwritten notes can be extremely powerful when used by auto dealers to generate leads, nurture clients, and attract sales.

Let’s discuss how auto dealers can use handwritten notes to achieve these goals. We’ll also provide some tips on how to write effective handwritten notes for auto dealers.

Types of Handwritten Notes for Auto Dealers

Printed to look like handwriting.

You’ve typed up a note, but you want it to look a little more personal and authentic so you choose a font that looks like it was written by hand. These handwriting fonts, which include Dancing Script and Homemade Apple, show no variations in characters or spacing.

In other words, they look too perfect to be written by hand. Plus, if the reader tries to smudge the ink it won’t budge. Not a single consumer will be convinced this note is handwritten.

Typed note with printed signature.

Then there’s the note that’s typed, but the closing signature is printed to look like handwriting. Again, this note will not look authentically signed because the characters will be perfectly shaped and identical and the ink won’t smudge. These notes come off as mass-printed junk mail.

AI-driven handwritten notes with real pens.

The cream of the crop in handwritten notes are written by AI-powered pen plotters. Holding real ink pens, the plotters, or handwriting robots, write with precise pressure, slant and flow to mimic human writing. All characters are slightly different and spacing varies between characters, words and lines.

This handwritten note is not perfect and that’s exactly why it comes across as authentic. Oh, and the ink smudges!

Why are Handwritten Notes so Effective?

Handwritten notes have higher open and engagement rates.

Not a single marketing tactic will be effective if no one opens or engages with your message. So these factors are crucial to an effective campaign. Email carries an average open rate of about 23%, according to Mailchimp. They go on to share an average email engagement rate of nearly 3%.

Now, when talking about direct mail like handwritten notes, the open rate is at least 90% with a 42% engagement rate. “Direct mail response rates are five to nine times higher than any other advertising channel,” shares Fundera by NerdWallet.

Handwritten envelopes land in the hands of decision-makers.

Handwritten notes, and envelopes, can be used in B2C marketing, business to consumer, and B2B marketing, business to business. When a handwritten envelope comes through the mail, especially if there’s a Forever stamp attached, the note will end up in the hands of the decision-makers, in both homes and businesses. Printed flyers end up in the trash, along with other forms of mass marketing. Handwritten notes and envelopes, however, get kept.

Mailboxes are empty, and people need a human connection.

Ten pieces of handwritten mail are received each year by the average American, according to the agency overseeing the USPS. When it comes to emails, however, the average person receives about 100 a day (on the low end), which makes for 36,500 each year. Handwritten notes are getting rarer, which means they stand out from everything else in the mailbox. 

You also have to take into account the impact of the pandemic on people from all walks of life. Being isolated for months can have a long-term effect. It can change the way of looking at the world. That’s what happened with Covid-19 and direct mail marketing.

When you take away all connection with the outside world aside from electronic communication, eventually you get very tired of electronic communication. Receiving a piece of handwritten mail is exactly what consumers need. It’s that human connection they crave.

People save their handwritten notes.

Someone took the time to put pen to paper. They crafted a personalized message, not another generic mass mailer. When receiving a handwritten note people recognize the time and attention it took to write; instantly bonding them with the sender. People save their handwritten notes because they’re worth something to them. 

Another amazing feature about handwritten notes is the ability to create a unique card graphic that the reader is drawn to keep. Having a huge sale on 4X4 pickups? Use a graphic of the truck lineup or an action shot of a model. 

Build trust and value.

Finally, there’s an emotional side to handwritten notes that helps you build trust with the recipient and add value to your brand at the same time. At some point, the reader is going to consider that someone took the time to think about them, write a personal note to them, and hand-address an envelope to them. This increases the value of your message and it bonds the consumer to your brand on a personal level and increases trust.

What to Look for in a Handwritten Notes Service

Made from high-quality materials.

The handwritten notes service you choose should use high-quality materials including thick cardstock that’s at least 100-lb weight. Envelope weight should be at least 70-lb. Pens should write with ink that flows smoothly across the paper.

Handwriting style variety.

You’ll find some handwritten notes services that offer one or two handwriting styles and that’s it. That doesn’t give the client enough variety, so they’re forced to choose a style that doesn’t match their brand. High-end handwritten notes services will offer between five and 10 handwriting styles. 


There’s no sense in spending time and money on a handwritten notes campaign if you cannot customize or personalize the notes. As soon as the reader opens the note and it says, “Dear Car Owner,” they will pitch it in the trash as junk mail. But, if they open it and see,

“Dear Sally,

We wanted to thank you for visiting Westminster Ford on Saturday. It looks like you talked with Bill about purchasing a used Ford F-250 Lariat. We weren’t sure if he shared his contact information with you, so we wanted to pass it along. We look forward to helping you find the perfect Ford Lariat.


John Steiler

Westminster Ford Sales Manager”

… they’ll be more likely to read it, reread it, tell people about it, keep it, and act on it than any mass mailing with no personalization. 

Forever stamp.

Digital postage is so much easier than attaching stamps to everything you send out. But, when it comes to handwritten notes for auto dealers, the only postage to use is a Forever stamp. 

Why? It’s simple, really. 

You’re sending a handwritten note in a hand-addressed envelope written by robots that you want to convince someone was written by you personally and you choose digital postage. Something’s wrong with this picture. Digital postage screams business office and junk mail. A Forever stamp screams individually applied.

Order completion rate.

At no point in time should you ever choose a handwritten notes service solely on turnaround time. Just because a service is the fastest, doesn’t mean it’s the best. Ultimately, you’re looking for the best quality and the best turnaround time from the same company.

If you’re sending a handwritten notes campaign advertising a sale on Nissans that lasts two days next week, the order can’t take two weeks to send. The best turnaround time we’ve seen is 24 hours.

Scaling options.

When you first start out with a handwritten notes service you may want to dip your toe in the ink to start. Let’s say you pay $1500 for 500 notes. Within a few days, you’re contacted by five or 10 recipients and of them, one person comes in and purchases an $85,000 truck.

Not bad! You’re excited about the results and you want to go bigger – a worthwhile handwritten notes service will have options to scale your campaign as large as you need.

No hidden fees.

Imagine being quoted $5 a note for 100 notes for a total of $500. You get all the permissions you need from the company and when you’re just about to pull the trigger, you’re told there’s a $2 per note fee for postage and handling. That $500 deal just jumped to $700.

You never want to sign up with a company that hides fees from you until the very end of the sales process. Look for a handwritten notes service that quotes the total price from the start.

Option of including collateral.

Your dealership just had a huge sales blowout and you ran a giveaway for Amazon gift cards. You have 500 winners to contact and handwritten notes for auto dealers are perfect – if those gift cards can be added in with the notes. Always check with the handwritten notes service to see if they offer to warehouse and stuff collateral.

Personal account manager.

Finally, there are few things worse in marketing than being sold a big promise of results and then being left to figure out how to use the software on your own. The service knows the business, so it’s their responsibility to fully educate the user on how to use it. Personal account managers should also keep track of client campaigns and help them make changes and start new campaigns as needed.

Get the Best Traction with Handwritten Notes for Auto Dealers

Don’t sell to the consumer in every note.

There is an old tactic called the 80/20 Rule that originated in Italy centuries ago. With marketing, this rule divides communication into two categories: sales and information. The messages you send need to be 80% information and 20% sales.

That means only 1 in 5 handwritten notes should sell to the recipient. The other 4 in 5 provide valuable information that helps build trust with consumers and establish yourself as an expert in all things auto.

Include a QR code as a call-to-action (CTA).

All it takes is a QR code and a “Scan Here” to catch someone with your call-to-action on handwritten notes. It’s direct marketing transformed into digital marketing in an instant. Immediately take a consumer from a handwritten note to your auto dealership in the time it takes to snap a picture.

Research your target audience thoroughly.

You could write a thesis on the importance of a thoroughly researched target audience, but we’ll keep it short and sweet with an example.

Imagine you send a handwritten note announcing a sales event to every person in the United States. That’s 330 million notes. When you subtract all the people who don’t drive, can’t drive, or are too young to drive that number drops dramatically. 

Then, when you subtract the people who live nowhere near your auto dealership the number drops even more. If you’d researched your target audience you wouldn’t have paid to market to 330 million people who have no interest in buying a car when you could have marketed to the 1000 people primed to attend your event.

Auto Dealer Triggers for Handwritten Notes – Samples

End of model year event.

Dear Sally,

I’m John from Westminster Ford on Rowell Ave. This weekend we’re holding our 17th Annual End of Model Year Event and we’re giving away $100 Amazon gift cards. There will also be door prize giveaways every 15 minutes. Since you’re part of the Westminster family (hope you love the Mustang), we wanted to invite you to attend. 

Hope to see you at the dealership next Saturday, January 13th from 8 am to 8 pm.

John Steiler

Westminster Ford Sales Manager

New model year event.

Hey Paul,

John here from Westminster Ford on Rowell. Checking in to see how that Ford F-350 is doing for your business. She’s 5 years old now, might be time to trade up. 

The real reason for my note is to let you know we’re holding our 17th Annual New Model Year Event and we’re getting in the new F-350 and F-450 models. We’ll be giving out $100 gift cards to John’s Fish & Shrimp and door prize giveaways happen every 15 minutes. 

Come check out the free food, drinks, and prizes with us next Tuesday, October 11th from 8 am to 8 pm. 

Hope to see you there – can’t wait for you to see the new features.

John Steiler

Westminster Ford Sales Manager

Winter sales event.

Dear Marcus,

Hey there – it’s John from Westminster Ford. It looks like you missed last month’s scheduled maintenance on your Ford Fiesta. She’s due for an oil change. We have appointments available at 8 am on February 15th.

While you’re here, feel free to enjoy the free food, drinks, and door prize giveaways part of our 17th Annual Winter Sales Event. We’ll also be giving away 50 crisp, new $100 bills. 

Let us know if you’d like to stop by for maintenance that morning. 

John Steiler

Westminster Ford Sales Manager

Spring sales event.

Hi Julie,

I’m John Steiler the Sales Manager at Westminster Ford on Rowell. Just last week you purchased a brand new Ford Expedition for your daycare – how do you like it? Are you still thinking about trading in your old Escalade?

Wanted to let you know that next Saturday, April 18th from 8 am to 8 pm we’re having our 17th Annual Spring Sales Event. We’re giving out crisp $100 bills and a new door prize giveaway every 15 minutes. There will be free food and drinks available all day. Someone will even win $2000 off a new car. 

We’d love to see you there!

John Steiler

Westminster Ford Sales Manager

Summer sales event.

How’s it going Hunter?

It’s John from over at Westminster Ford on Rowell. You came by this past weekend to check out the deals on our new line of Ford F-250s. We just received word that the 17th Annual Summer Sales Event is on July 8th from 8 am to 8 pm. 

We’ll be giving away door prizes every hour worth $3888 off a new car or truck. Plus, prices on all vehicles have dropped significantly – especially big-engine Fords. 

Come on out and get some free food and drinks and check out the deals. I have a feeling you’ll find the price you’re looking for. 

Hope to see you there!

John Steiler

Westminster Ford Sales Manager

Fall sales event.

Hi Meredith,

It’s John from the Westminster Ford on Rowell Ave. We met at the kids’ soccer game a couple of weekends ago. You were interested in upgrading to a new Hybrid Escape. I received an email today from corporate finalizing the date and time for our 17th Annual Fall Sales Event. 

On September 10th from 8 am to 8 pm all Hybrid and Electric vehicle prices will drop at least $3000. We’re giving away coupons every hour for up to $3000 off a new car purchase and door prizes every 15 minutes. 

Come on down to the dealership and check out the best prices I’ve seen on Hybrids.

John Steiler

Westminster Ford Sales Manager

Holiday events.

Happy holiday Griff,

It’s John from Westminster Ford reaching out because you attended last year’s 16th Annual St. Paddy’s Day Sales Event. Looks like this year it will be held on Friday, March 17th. I wanted to personally invite you. We had tons of fun last year.

While you’re here enjoy the free food and drinks and listen out for door prizes announced every 15 minutes. Someone will win $5000 off a new car. 

Hope to see you there.

John Steiler

Westminster Ford Sales Manager

Get the Most out of Handwritten Notes for Auto Dealers

Auto dealers who want to get the most out of handwritten marketing should consider using handwritten notes as a way to generate leads, nurture clients, and attract sales. Handwritten notes are effective because they have high open and engagement rates, land in decision-makers’ hands, are saved by recipients and build trust and value. 

When looking for a handwritten notes service, auto dealers should consider factors such as quality, handwriting options, personalization, turnaround time, and the ability to include collateral. By following these tips, auto dealers can use handwritten notes to kill it in their marketing efforts.