Just Say Thank You!

What happened to the lost art of thank you?

Returning to basic relationship principles is a constant theme in marketing conversation. If you want to build on relationships, then say thank you.

Yet, in this fast age of Internet business and new millennium expectations, people say thanks less frequently.

Consider the receipt or post transaction communication most people get from companies, either online or in real person. You get hit up with coupons and requests to buy more. Personally, one of the best parts about buying the old fashioned way in a store are the smart clerks who invariably thank you and shake your hand. Go Nordstroms!

I don’t know how many times I have referred someone business, provided them a speaking engagement, etc., and they failed to say thank you. In some cases, people are arrogant about these interactions, feeling like they deserved the opportunity. Those are the ones who won’t receive again.

It may be the 21st century, but there is something to be said for acknowledging someone’s investment in your business — either money or time — with a simple thank you. Thank you acknowledges and sustains the relationship. It’s a basic symbol of respect.

Here are five ways to consider saying thank you:

Send a gift (not a discount to go buy more): The Washington nationals sent season ticket holder Nats Bucks, $100 or more of free food and gear at the stadium. Nice touch.

Thank you and nothing more: Smart nonprofits are very good at this. You donate, they say thank you, and nothing more. Their next communication may be a solicitation or an update on monies vested, but the initial communication is a simple acknowledgement of gratitude.

Hand written note: Want to impress the daylights out of someone? Send them a handwritten thank you note that expresses your gratitude for how their time/investment impacted you.

Reciprocate: Most bloggers expect reciprocation after a series of link shares and mentions. I personally feel like you should do this IF you feel the other person’s content warrants it. Content has to fit the community, too. Giving to get is not really a good motive, in my opinion. A thank you should suffice.

Endorse/Refer: In a world of gratuitous Likes, +1s and recommendations on LinkedIn, taking the time to refer someone or write a great review about them and their service is the ultimate gift. A well written endorsement says a lot about how much you care.

What do you think?

A version of this post ran originally on the Vocus blog. Image by Jen Collins.


  • Thank you :) Cheers! Kaarina

  • Bravo, Geoff! There is definitely something to be said about the art of giving thanks. It is especially important in my new line of work– that of alumni relations and higher education fundraising. We have to be very keen on ways of recognizing not only monetary gifts made to the university, but also acknowledging alumni for giving of their time and resources. A simple thank you card from the dean, or an invitation to a special event, or even sending someone a university-branded baseball cap goes a long way! And it keeps those alumni engaged and more likely to speak well of the university to others (like a loyal brand ambassador).

    • People want to feel valued for their time. While we’d all like to think altruism drives giving, people are human, and humans need recognition. Kudos to you and your team for seeing that!

  • As I mentioned on Facebook, I think we’ve nurtured an entitlement society that isn’t grateful, making things like “thank you” unnecessary. It’s not true, of course, but that is why people neglect being thankful.

    On the flip side, some people expect gratitude for less than 100 percent effort and for things that are flat out off kilter. It’s very hard to reconcile at times.

    What isn’t hard to reconcile is thanking you now. This is a pretty insightful post, even if it will receive a little less attention. It’s too bad, really. You might have even inspired a follow up post in the near future. All the best, Geoff!

    • Thanks, Richard, I appreciate the insights! Yeah, I see that expectation of gratitude, too. You should thank them for waking up and rolling into work 30 minutes late. Um, no.

      Less attention is fine. I don’t have the heart to write a post for traffic, for example… 19 ways to use a 3D printer to better your marketing. Cheers!

  • Geoff!! I absolutely love this post!!! It blows my mind how manners have been thrown to the wind. Manners are a part of a disciplined society; teaching them to children and ensuring the kids use them help in their growth and social grace. No manners makes it easier to continue turning this into a “me! me! me!” world.

    • We live in an undisciplined time, but it some ways it makes things easier for those of us who dedicate ourselves to the art of thank you, manners, etc. Hope you are doing well!

  • Speaking to my heart Geoff, such a simple but powerful gesture. One that I do not take for granted!

    • Thank you, Randy. I appreciate those gestures, too. Sometimes I forget to do it myself, and I always feel a bit bad about it.

  • I like polite people. A simple thank you when I hold a door open can make my day.

  • Geoff, you are singing my song. I just blogged yesterday about valuing your time and part of that was to avoid giving too much of your expertise away for free. (Yes, I acknowledged the importance of sharing it via blogs, newsletters, etc.) But over the past few months, I had three specific instances where I did something for free and didn’t even get a “thanks.”

    I’m talking about creating a logo and writing a business profile. There were reasons I did this and I know that ultimately the blame is on me for doing it, but it has given me pause. From now on, acquaintances and maybe even friends will get a quote for the work requested.

    It’s tough to maintain a generous spirit when people continue to ignore basic good manners, but we’re seeing it happen before our eyes. I hope your post is shared far and wide. And as for me, I’ll continue to give when appropriate and to always remember to say “thank you” to those who went the extra mile for me.

    Thank you for sharing your insights! :-)

    • Thank you for this comment!

      I find this happens frequently, particularly with those engaged in the social web game. It can be obnoxious. I can tell you one thing for sure, customers notice. And they don’t like spending money with chumps.

      All I can say about the post getting shared far and wide, Richard was correct, it was not, but it was noticed by many of you, and I think the RTs and comments say a lot, too. What can you do?

  • Great post Geoff! This is something I am working to drive home with my children as my parents and grandparents did with me. I get caught off guard at certain times when someone does say thank you and without a doubt it always puts a smile on my face and a happy experience in my mind. Thank you

    • It’s funny. I have a two year old at home, and this is a prime issue right now. We are discussing please and thank you everyday. It’s becoming an important thing, and as a result, we’ve noticed when others do it with us. Say thank you. So critical.

  • You know, I bought some cards from Successories a long time ago, with the intent of handwriting thank-yous, and I never got around to doing it. May have to pull those puppies out.

    I do try to thank everyone online for their shares, comments, thought leadership. And I know you are excellent at that, also. Reciprocity is easy with the folks I typically engage with because I trust their content and solutions.

    Ready for those to mature more into the Endorse/Referral stage. I have had opportunity to make a few endorsements and referrals, so that has been cool since many of those relationships started online.

    • It’s important, both you and I know how hard it is to dedicate the time to thank people. If we don’t do it, if we don’t invest, we eventually turn people away, IMO.

      And on that note, thank you for this comment, Brian.

  • Sometimes the thanks and sorry also simple but very meaningful.

  • Thanks Mr. Livingston! I feel like I know you personally since our minds seem to be thinking alike about the timeliness and necessity of just saying thank you. In fact, I found your blog while googling’ verbiage to support my initiative “7 Days of Thanksgiving”. It’s purpose is simply to get parents, teachers, students, co-workers, friends to offer spontaneous, sincere & non-holiday motivated Statements of Gratitudes (SoG) to one another-no costs, no gimmicks-simply writing it down and making it plain. I, fellow parent and teacher, will in turn compile all SoGs and some pics with Persons of Gratitude, into a movie-style presentation and feature it beginning at a local high-school’s PTA Meeting. 15-minutes of just saying Thank-you, publicly! Your blog has helped solidify the relational significance of this little brain-dream of mine, I’m super excited now. Thanks.

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