Why do we feel the need to write "I love you" on a piece of paper?
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and the day brings around a huge boom in handwritten cards. The UK spends around £1.5bn on cards and gifts and the USA a lot more. Although the holiday has become commercialised and is often considered very modern, the history suggests otherwise.
It is suggested that Valentine’s Day could date back as far as the end of the 5thCentury. There are many legends about St. Valentine and the stories behind the holiday. The history of the day itself seems pretty complicated with there even being debate over who St. Valentine actually is, so let's not get into that. I want to talk to you more about where the handwritten cards came from and why this tradition has carried on into 2021.
According to one of the legends, St.Valentine fell in love with his jailor’s daughter and wrote her a note signed simply from “your valentine.” After that, the next chapter of the valentines card was in 1382 when Geoffery Chauce wrote Parlement of Foules:
“For this was on synt Volantynys day
Whan euery foul comyth there to chese his make.”
In France in the 15thcentury, the 14thFebruary took a step towards Valentine’s day as we know it now with lavish banquets being held to celebrate romantic love. It is from this time that the earliest ever Valentine’s Greeting can be found. The Duke of Orleans, while imprisoned in The Tower of London in 1415, wrote to his wife:
“Je suis desja d’amour tanné
Ma tres doulce Valentinée”
Soon Shakespeare hopped on board with his mention of Valentine’s day in the 17thcentury within Hamlet. However, it was not until the 18thcentury that we started to see “Valentine’s Cards” as such. Lovers would send handmade cards and decorate them with symbols & flowers, often including puzzles or poetry. Soon Britain managed to start the pre-printing of cards. From then on, there is a lot of commercialisation, romantic stories & cheesy movies to get us to where we are today.
However, one thing has remained the same and that is the emotion and feeling that you can get across with a handwritten note. Why did handwritten letters work back then? And why does it work even better today?
There are so many reasons. Firstly, the simple concept of reciprocity, the instinctive urge to respond to one positive action with another positive action, alongside the obligation to give back when you receive. This is partly why we receive such a strong response to our campaigns, regardless of what the call to action is. Secondly, the 6 human needs identified by Anthony Robbins: Significance, certainty, growth, connection & love, variety and contribution. Handwritten, personalised cards satisfy 5 of these needs. In a world of texts and e-mails, be the person who stands out, in your personal and professional life!
Significance – the customer is made to feel important to the brand.
Certainty– from a customer perspective, they feel listened to BUT also from the senders point of view that the message will get read. (Who throws away a handwritten envelope? Have you heard we have a 99% open rate?)
Connection & love to the company. A more authentic and personal connection than can be established through e-mail.
Variety– it is different from other marketing materials they receive.
Contribution – they know they are part of something bigger.
Handwriting something is not just useful in personal lives but also professional. It makes you different from your competitors, whether that be competing for lovers or clients, it is personalised and unexpected, customers have stories, lives and they engage in things which satisfy needs. Our mission is to help companies be unforgettable. Treat your customers as you would a loved one or a friend and take that into your business. Be fun – have fun – it is infectious.