Around the holidays, I like to send handwritten notes to my staff, who are also members of the communities that I manage. You can accomplish more with a handwritten note than you can accomplish in several emails or private messages, just like you can accomplish even more with a face-to-face meeting.

Unless you work at a B2B company where your community is your paying customers, you probably don’t have a mailing address for your most valued contributors. It may not be practical or appropriate to ask them for an address. But what if you could still send them a handwritten note?

You can do that with a pen tablet, like those made by Wacom. There are other ways (you could try an iPad). But use an actual pen tool, not your finger. Whatever method you choose, you can use it to write a handwritten note that you can then email or embed as an image. It’s not the same as receiving something in the mail, but the uniqueness of it makes an impression that goes beyond a simple email.

Fonts exist that simulate handwriting, but it’s just not the same. It’s not yours, it’s not personal, and it’s too uniform. It’s not a handwritten note and is really no different from typing out a message via email.

You can buy a pen tablet for what it costs to purchase and send 100 thank you cards. This is not a replacement for handwritten notes you send through the postal mail, but it is a relatively low cost way of being exceptional.