Randy Garner of Sam Houston University found that when asking someone to do something, adding a personal message on a sticky note led to higher response rates.
In one study, Garner randomly selected 150 full time faculty members at major universities to complete a survey. The participants were divided into three groups of fifty:
Group A received the survey and cover letter.
Group B received the survey and cover letter with a personal message written on the upper right hand corner of the cover letter asking “Please take a few minutes to complete this for us. Thank you!”
Group C received the survey and cover letter with a Post-it note attached with the same message that was written on the cover letter in Group B.
The results showed that participants who received the survey with the Post-it note message returned the surveys significantly more than the other two groups.
Group A: 36% completed and returned the survey.
Group B: 48% completed and returned the survey.
Group C: 76% completed and returned the survey.
Garner conducted variations of the experiment and found similar results. He believes the Post-it message is likely viewed by the recipient
as a personal appeal or request for a favor, which conjures strong societal norms of polite, reciprocal compliance.
Post-It® GARNER POST-IT PERSUASION Note Persuasion: A Sticky Influence