Snapchat has become the preferred social networking platform of teenagers in large part because of the temporary nature of its messages, which are called snaps. Opened snaps are automatically deleted when they are viewed or otherwise expire. Unopened snaps are deleted after 30 days. Whether you actually believe in their ethereal nature or not, they sure seem temporary.
But what if you desire permanence? What if you want your message to be saved, even cherished? If so, Snapchat is most definitely not for you. Electronic platforms perform wonderfully when asked to provide speed and convenience. Not so much for durability and immutability. Arguably, digital communication is the very antithesis of durability and immutability. So how does one marry the benefits of the digital world with the high-touch benefits of the physical world? Here's one way.
YOU CAN BOND WITH 'HANDWRITTEN' NOTES
Bond is a well-funded (think Goldman Sachs) startup that launched in 2013 and seems to have earned the leadership position in a crowd of solutions trying to accomplish said marriage. It has attracted avid users' interest from Fortune 1000 CEOs, to solopreneurs, to the artistic community. Bond has developed a process of converting quick and easy digital communication to highly customizable, personalized notes written with a fountain pen on high-quality stationery. Each note is hand-addressed, stamped, and mailed via the U.S. Postal Service.
The Bond service sign-up process is easy. Establish an account, verify your email address, provide a method of payment, and you're set. Once you've activated your account, sending one of those memorable personalized notes is as simple as typing your message and adding the recipient's name and mailing address. At that point, the Bond fountain pen robots take over and convert your note to an actual fountain pen-written note. This is not printed but rather individually produced by moving the pen across the stationery and forming the words.
There is elegance in this simplicity, too. Example: Not every letter is formed the same every time. Just like humans' penmanship, Bond's "handwriting" varies a bit. I noticed the capital G in my signature was formed differently than the leading G in "Greetings." The overall effect of the variances makes the note so personal it will most probably pass for individually prepared. Because it is!
For a practitioner, I see this service as an effective way of bridging from high-tech to high-touch. Imagine having an exploratory meeting with a prospective client. In the elevator on the way out of the building, you quickly launch Bond Black, as the mobile app is called, select your prewritten "thanks for the great meeting, I'm looking forward to working with you ..." note, choose the client from your contacts list, and submit. A few days later your prospective client receives your personally handwritten thank-you note on luxurious cream-colored stationery. Your "prospect" is so impressed that he or she quickly moves to engage your firm.
Note: While Bond seems to be the leader in this space, and it's the only service I actually tested, there are several others. They include Handiemail, Handwrytten, and Inkly.
- Website: bond.co (web), bondblack.com (app)
- Operating systems: iOS, Web
- Cost: $5 per note/discounts and additional CRM-style services available for bulk purchasers.
Greg LaFollette (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a strategic adviser with CPA.com, the commercial subsidiary of the AICPA.