How to Write a Thank-You Letter


A thank-you letter is one of the best tools for mutual PR and getting people to like you. When used properly, it is a way to express gratitude and find new customers, establish and strengthen valuable business relationships (networking), and even increase sales. This article is an introductory guide to thank-you letters.

The Power of a Thank-You Letter

Since a letter of thanks, in most cases, is stamped and signed, it is perceived as an official document. It triggers a positive prejudice, so to say: as the document is official, its authenticity is beyond doubt. If people don’t believe ordinary reviews sometimes, they almost always believe thank-you letters.

In addition, since we are talking about psychological triggers, three more are relevant here:

  • Social proof. When you show your customers thank-you letters, they see that your products or services are in demand and are more willing to turn to you.
  • Authority. Not only do official acknowledgments look very impressive, but they also convey to you or your company the “weight” of those who give you thanks. The more reputable the letter's author, the more impressive it is.
  • Benevolence. You can write a thank-you letter to endear yourself to a person or, as mindfulness experts say, condition yourself to like that person more (or both). It’s an excellent tool for establishing and strengthening business ties.

In other words, regardless of whether you express or accept gratitude, a written "Thank you!" plays into the hands of both sides. Moreover, it is one of the few marketing tools with practically no contraindications and side effects. The main thing is not to overdo it!

Types of Thank-You Letters

We can distinguish a traditional formal thank-you letter and a thank-you letter as a means of indirect advertising.

Formal thank-you letter

The formal professional thank-you letter is probably the most common type. The letter format is characterized by universality and abstractness. It is usually written in a formal business style. The main text is preceded by “Acknowledgement” or its equivalent. A few examples of such letter are scholarship thank you letter, donation thank you letter, business thank you letter, etc.

A short example:

The NBA expresses its gratitude to the head coach of the US national team for hard work, conscientious performance of official duties, and excellent preparation of the national team players for the championship.

Thank-you letter as an indirect advertisement

The distinguishing feature of this type is that an expression of gratitude serves to advertise products or services indirectly. When you say “Thank you,” you describe the commercial advantages of your goods and services so that the description looks spontaneous and natural. The technique is quite tricky. Look at an example.

Example:

I want to say “thank you” to Jack Anderson, the computer science teacher at College #3, for instilling a love of programming in me and teaching me the basics. Thanks to him, I’ve got a professional education and founded an ENG company, one of the main suppliers of IT outsourcing services in Australia and Sydney today. I recommend Jack Anderson as a first-class teacher.

In other words, the main idea of this letter is to express gratitude and describe your company. Here a sense of proportion is especially important. Otherwise, the letter will look awkward. The ideal strategy is to emphasize the strengths of the person you are writing a letter to and mention the relevant strengths of your product or company.

How to Get a Thank-You Letter

If everything is more or less clear with writing, another question arises: how to get a thank you letter from, for example, a client? What's more, how to get an official letter with a stamp and signature, not just several sentences by email? There are three options here.

  1.  Wait for the client to write a thank-you letter themselves. For that, you have to exceed their expectations, but even then, the probability of such an outcome is low. Therefore, we do not recommend passive waiting.
  2.  Ask the client to write a thank-you letter. This is not a bad option, but you should use it right after you have finished your work while the client’s impressions are still strong. However, you’ll probably have to wait up to several weeks and constantly remind them.
  3.  Write a text yourself and offer the client to edit it, print it, and sign it. This is analogous to option 2 but much faster.

Tips for Writing a Thank-You Letter to a Company

Here are a few recommendations that will help you write a thank-you letter.

  • Personalize the letter. In other words, don’t be too general. It is not enough to say an abstract “thank you.” Add details: specify what you are grateful for and how it has helped you. This will make the letter more unique and cause positive emotions in the recipient.  
  • But don't overdo it. The company's thank-you letter is also about emotions, not only dry statistics and enumeration of facts. 
  • Do not delay sending. Saying “thank you” on time is important. A letter sent six months after the collaboration looks irrelevant and strange, while a timely letter of thanks can positively affect your goal, for example, when you apply for a job. 
  • Write sincerely. If you are overflowing with sugary gratitude, the recipient may think you are not being honest. For example, if you write to an employer after you have quit your job, focus on what you liked. Do not embellish your impressions, but also do not mention the negative side of your employment there. 
  • Say what you didn't have time to. A thank-you letter for a company is your second chance to mention what you didn't have time or didn't have the opportunity to say face-to-face. For example, if during an interview you forgot to say why you will fit well into the corporate culture, you can briefly state this in the letter. 

Conclusion

Like many other kinds of texts, a thank-you letter should solve a certain task. If you want it to work for sales or for mutual benefit, use indirect advertising. If you just want to say “thank you” without obligations and responsibility, write a traditional formal letter — it’s simple but effective. 

As you can see, there is nothing complicated here. Try it, and you will succeed!