Monday, May 9, 2011

Handwritten v typed letters - what do you think?

Since we launched Shoes of Prey we've included a bespoke hand written note that comes with your bespoke custom shoes and customers love it. It's one of those purple cow touches, an extra talking point when women are telling their friends about the shoes they designed for themselves.

The trouble is it's not scalable, they take quite a bit of time to write, and we're not sure they look as professional as a typed letter. This has us thinking about alternatives and we like the idea of a tailored, old school type writer font letter.

The type writer font letter is more scaleable and looks neater, but our concern is we might be killing a touch of the purple cow.

What do you think, do we stick with the written letter or move to the type writer font letter?


  1. Print out the letters in whatever font, but sign them with an ink pen that clearly shows a human signed it. I think you can get the best of both worlds with this approach.

  2. Even better, why not type the letters on an actual typewriter?

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  4. I do like the handwritten concept but udnerstably that its not scalable. I think more so its about it being personal. Have you thought of including writing that speaks more to the person's choice? e.g. love the red with the cream choice or love the bow etc. also not super scalable but perhaps less time consuming that writing the letters.

    another idea is different types of paper, maybe ones that match the shoe colour, you might even be able to print paper with their shoe design as a watermark?

    maybe scented paper? ribbon around the shoe? ;-) ok... i will stop!

  5. couldn't you just print it so it looks like its handwritten.

    I do love the idea of a personal note - so old school! I used to do it with my clients with my previous work. Couldn't you just write a small note, like a with comps slip e.g. 2 lines rather than 2 paragraphs.

  6. Agree that a real signature would be better but the letter itself, if on good quality stock and in a retro font, would be fine if pre-printed. It will be beneficial for non-English customers as well, since you could have different templates for different languages.

  7. If the printed letter is still hand signed, which it looks to be in this photo, then that is still more personal that the majority of customer interactions in most industries.Also you reduce potential downsides of the handwritten letter like: typos (if they're still called typos when handwritten), poor handwriting, smudging

  8. I disagree. It's so rare to receive a personal touch like this from a company, and the feeling of personalisation has gotta be worth it. Even if you are/become a large company, you're customers need to feel like they are dealing with a much smaller one. Quality handmade shoes cannot be mass produced, they are unique, and your messaging and contact with your customers needs to reflect this. Can this task be outsourced when the scale becomes overwhelming?

  9. Thanks for your thoughts everyone.

    Chris - agreed, we should continue to at least sign the letter with a pen.

    Niki - interesting idea, though I think we can achieve the same look with a computer = much more scalable. Still, there could be something in this if we could show customers we actually use a type writer...

    Isis - tailored letters based on the shoe you've ordered = definitely. I love the idea of having the customer's shoe design as a watermark too... and maybe even some ribbon with pics of the actual shoe designed by the customers - wow, awesome ideas. No need to stop if you have more ideas like those!

    Matt - we could print it so it looks handwritten but we're not keen on the inauthenticity of that. A shorter handwritten slip to go with the letter is a good idea, though I'm not sure we have anything extra to say, if we did logically it should be in the letter. Will give that some more thought.

    Leighton - great point that a printed letter = easy to do different languages.

    Colin - agreed, we like that a typed letter reduces the potential for mistakes which sometimes happen with handwritten letters.

    David - I started out entirely with you on this one though Jodie and Mike did a good job of persuading me otherwise. I'm still on the fence though, I think it's so different and so cool to do the handwritten note that it may still be worthwhile. Still, so far the vote in the comments is 6-1 to move to the typed note.

  10. Have you thought of perhaps asking your customers directly about what they think?

    Either as a open discussion on Facebook. Or, a more controlled simple question via email to a select group of customers (ie. VIP Club members).

  11. Hi Michael,

    I love the handwritten note but it isn't practical. There is a fantastic online invitation website I use They have taken the personal idea and ramped it up a bit. You might get some idea's from there. Also as one who is a fan of handwritten notes, the thing that really gets me everytime is the quality of the stationery. By all means print the body of the letter but write the Dear x and the closing thought and signature but make the paper dreamy and very, very kinesthetic.

    Regards Ruth

  12. Hi Michael,

    I think it would be a terrible shame if you lose the handwritten letters. If it were me, I would be willing to put someone on full-time at a cost of 40k per year to keep up with the demand - silly I know. Even if you decide to go with the typed alternative, maybe you could still include a handwritten note on a criteria basis like the following:

    a) For VIP customers on an irregular basis, ie close to their birthday, or every 2 pair of shoes bought etc
    b) First time customers
    c) customers who are receiving a gift certificate

    You could also try a willy wonka style promotion with a "golden letter" that would entitle the customer to joining Jodie at a fashion related event etc.

    Anyway, I am clearly in love with the letter idea so I best call it quits.



  13. Hi Michael,

    I've received x 2 of your handwritten notes and to be honest, I wouldn't mind at all if it were typed.

    I was surprised when they were handwritten as I thought of all the time spent writing!

    I like touches such as the foot petals and photo for you shoe box, but handwritten is very rare/not expected these days.

  14. Hi Michael,

    Enjoy your blog, just thought I would give you another option.
    There is a software program called "Font Creator"

    It is one of several but we use it and it is quite good.

    Among other things this program will let you scan your handwriting and after a bit of editing it will allow you to save your letters/numerals etc as a True type font that you can install on any computer.
    It will take a little bit of work to do but it is not a hard program to use.
    Once you are finished you can type away on your computer in your own handwriting.
    Just another option for you to consider.

    Regards, Neil.

  15. Hi Michael
    Handwritten is handwritten and that's what makes it special. On the other hand you might also consider using a real vintage typewriter and some good paper - and hand sign the letters - which would also create an authentic feel.

    Kind regards


  16. From a consumer's point of view, I would prefer no note or a pretty flyer. A handwritten note reminds me of the risk I took in buying from a smaller, less established company, and at that point in the purchase process, that's the last thing you want me to be thinking of (I'll be more critical). Also, I'd know that I paid for the time spent with the payment of the shoe, and since it probably isn't a letter I'll hang over my bed, I'd probably rather have paid less.
    What I do like is the "Quality Assurance by [Real Signature]" Flyer that some products have. That helps with cognitive dissonance, and shows that someone is personally invested in providing me good service.

  17. Hey Michael - take a look at this product, could be a good compromise although the writing area is limited to 3 inches by 6 inches: