Personal Touch

Using a personal touch persuades by showing the person you put more effort into something than you should have. In a way, it’s the opposite of the low-touch, cold approach of being abundant, but it works as long as the person doesn’t convey neediness.

Underlying Psychology/Biases


  • Using the presence or absence of a name (a type of naming fallacy) can be used to humanize or dehumanize someone or something:
    • For example, in trials, the defendant will always use the defendant’s name (“Mr. Wilson did this”) while the prosecutor will never use it (“The defendant did this”);
    • People will easily eat animals when they are nameless, but if they name one (for example, farm animals), they will have a much harder time eating them;
    • This can be leverage by using your name and the names of the people in your team, and removing the names of the people in the competition’s teams;
  • Asking for a favor, ironically, can be more effective than doing someone a favor
    • Asking for a favor brings you both together, and communicates you value the other person;
  • Calibrate the “you”/”me” ratio
    • In a conversation, it’s crucial that the ratio of “you” to “me”/”we” is above 50%;
    • If you mostly use “me”, the person will simply tune out and not listen to you;


Some examples can include:

  • Using your own handwriting in documents that didn’t require it;
  • Getting the person a coffee, water or others that you get for yourself as well;
  • Signing a document or note with your name/initials (or taking notes) when you didn’t need to;
  • Using the person’s first name in conversation (the full name won’t work – only the first name);
  • Sending the person a handwritten “thank you” card (or, to an extent, any kind of gratefulness);
  • Remembering something important the other person has stated they wanted or needed;
  • Visiting the person in-person for a deal or conversation that didn’t need to be in person;

Examples in UPP:

  • Signed newsletters
    • Due to the impersonal nature of email marketing, many people (me included) include a signature (and possibly picture) at the bottom of the email. It makes it more personal;
  • Customizations
    • Algorithms that offer “tailored recommendations” make you feel the recommendation is more personal;
  • Exceptions to systems
    • When someone tells you, “You don’t have to apply like the others, just call me”, that is very powerful as a personal touch technique;
  • “Friends and family”
    • Many consultants offer a “friends and family” discount, which seems very personal and unique – even if the price is actually the same;


  • Interview “thank you” cards
    • Some candidates stand out in the interview process by sending a custom “thank you” card afterwards. This really helps them stand out… and it triggers reciprocity, helping them get hired;

Commercial/Known Uses

Key Takeaways

  • A personal touch is effective because it communicates personal effort and attention. You could have done this in an automated manner, but chose not to;
  • Any gesture that communicates effort will work. A “thank you”, personal handwriting, signing a document etc;
  • The personal touch technique is great to trigger reciprocity without offering anything – just by offering your time and attention;
  • Using someone’s name (or not) can be used to humanize or dehumanize the person, respectively, with its presence or absence;