Post-it Notes can be really sticky

Post-it Notes are really sticky

Behavioural scientist Randy Garner has done an intriguing piece of research that demonstrates the power of handwritten Post-it Notes.

He sent out surveys to people with a request to complete them. The survey was accompanied by either (a) a handwritten Post-it Note requesting completion of the survey, which was attached to a cover letter; (b) a similar handwritten message on the cover letter; or (c) the cover letter and survey alone. More than 75% of people who received the survey with a Post-it Note filled it out and returned it, compared to 48% of the second group and 36% of the third group.

Garner wondered whether it was due to the attention-grabbing neon colored sticky notes. So he sent out a new batch of surveys. A third of the surveys came with a Post-it Note with a handwritten request, a third came with a blank Post-it Note, and a third had no Post-it Note. The handwritten Post-it Note got a response rate of 69% compared to 49% for the blank Post-it Note and 34% for no Post-it Note.

Why did it happen? Although handwriting a Post-it Note is so simple and seemingly insignificant thing to do, people recognize the extra effort and personal touch and feel the need to reciprocate this personal touch by agreeing to the request.

Garner found that the handwritten Post-it Note did more than just persuade people to respond to the survey: those who received the survey with the handwritten Post-it Note returned it more promptly and gave more detailed answers to the questions. In fact the handwritten Post-it Notes that were more personal with initials and a ‘Thank you’ had response rates higher than the rest of the handwritten Post-it Notes.

Using Post-it Notes can not only earn a profit for 3M, but for you too.

Source: Randy Garner – Post-it Note Persuasion: A Sticky Influence – Journal of Consumer Psychology (2005)

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