7 tips for sending snail mail that gets noticed

Every year around this time, I advise artists I coach to mail snail mail holiday or new year’s cards and nobody follows my advice.

Snail mail gets you recognized. When a real card, with a commemorative stamp, is slid under my office door by the mailman, I run to open it. I might even read it a few times and gaze at the artwork on it. I never sit contemplating an email holiday greeting. But if you send an actual card in the mail, you will get noticed.

Whose attention do you want this year? What relationships do you want to foster? Some examples include:

  1. Your close circle including friends, colleagues, business partners.
  2. People you do business with including collectors, clients, editors, agents, gallery owners, mentors, advisors.
  3. People you’d like to do business with such as future mentors, those you admire from afar, potential collectors, possible editors or agents. You get the idea.

In the early 90s, I moved to Paris for a year. Before I left, I input my entire address book into “Filemaker Pro” and printed address labels. When I arrived in Paris, I mailed everyone my change of address with a personal note. I still run into people who remember receiving that airmail envelope with the pretty stamp from Paris over 20 years later.

Snail mail has an impact because hardly anyone uses it anymore. A snail mail card will more likely be read than an email. The excuse I most often hear for why an artist can’t send them is: “I don’t have anyone’s address.”

You can find snail mail addresses here: (Some of these places are right in your inbox.)

  1. Bottom of email newsletters
  2. Email signature
  3. "Info/about section” on a LinkedIn or Facebook profile
  4. Website contact page or the company website where the person works.
  5. If the person is employed at a company, call the company and say, “I’m mailing Ms. SoAndSo a New Year’s card, may I please have her preferred mailing address?”
  6. Absolute last resort is to email the recipient and say “I have a tradition of mailing New Year’s cards and I’d like to add you to my list this year. May I have your preferred snail mail address?” This sounds less creepy than “I want to mail you something.”
  7. The second to last resort is to get creative. Maybe you know a friend or colleague of the recipient. Ask them for the person’s snail mail address.

What’s stopping you? When you consider the impact, I’d say one card is worth 1000 tweets, posts and email.

Ground rules for sending snail mail cards:

  1. If you’re a visual artist, send a card printed with your art.
  2. If you’re a writer, have letter press cards printed with your name.
  3. Hand address the envelope. (I know I said I once used labels. I don’t anymore.)
  4. Buy gorgeous postage.
  5. Remember that it’s not too late to mail cards in January with a “Happy New Year” message.
  6. Your return address can be a customized stamp or a sticker but don’t use those free, ugly ones. Use something that’s as classy as you are and fits your aesthetic.
  7. Write a personal message inside that is about the other person. This is not the time to sell or promote anything. This is about a smile, a handshake, a warm greeting in this crazy, sometimes brutal, sometimes wonderful world.

If you go to all the trouble this year, put me on your list. I’d like to know that somebody’s listening but really, I love the sound of a card sliding under my office door.

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina