About a month ago, I started wondering what would make an interesting Happy Holidays card to send clients and friends.
We’ve come up with some pretty funny cards in previous years but this year’s not looking all that funny – so I was stumped.
Then I remembered Donald, the artist.
I called and asked him if he could paint us an image to represent new beginnings – fresh starts for the coming year. I didn’t want Christmas trees, Santa Claus or palm trees with lights on them.
He said, “How about a baby chicken?”
Hmmm. Let’s take a look.
A few days later, I drove over to Donald’s and he showed me an acrylic painting of a small yellow chick emerging from the whitest of cracked eggs on a green and red background.
I loved it.
We created a card using it with a straightforward headline: We asked our friend Donald to paint a holiday card. He painted this chicken.
On the inside, the copy reads: He said the holidays for him mean “new beginnings” like this baby chicken. We wish you a new beginning, new hope and fresh starts this year. All the best, Lois Geller Marketing Group. We’re a new chicken too (after 14 years as Mason and Geller Direct).
Then, by a total fluke, I came across a place that sells realistic fake eggs. Put one in a bowl of water for a few days and a yellow chick emerges. It comes out bigger than the egg. It’s fun to watch. I bought a bunch of them and sent each out with a card.
So, if you’re not yet on my Christmas card list, here’s to all of our new beginnings this 2009. It’ll be a good year to help a friend, do random acts of kindness and create good karma in bad times – may they be oh so short.
I posted this on Linkedin and got a great response… here’s a few:
Sales Strategy Team at United States Postal Service
I love it! It is different and fresh, ties in the holiday season with your message, and is therefore relevant. All of this means it will be remembered pleasantly, and your organization will be reflected well from that memory. Can’t ask for more than that from a greeting!
Co-Owner/Vice President at Marketshare Communications, Inc.
What comes to mind is a simple statement “you know life is too short” to grapple such stuff. In light of the economic crisis, the wars in the
Mid East, the mortgage issues, the automobile industry bailout… Isn’t it refreshing to see a little chick bringing life into the coming year.
Not everything needs to be filtered the the overly sophisticated opinions of every so called intellectual to just get the point….
Happy New Year… and we’re thinking about you… all the other blah blah blah is just useless banter.
Marketing Strategist, Owner of PurpleCrayon Direct
I’m all about the human touch, for a number of reasons:
1. I think business people take themselves too seriously. They could use a little “down home” cheer to help burst their self-important bubbles.
2. Relationship marketing requires the human touch. After all, what is a relationship but one human being (in this case, figuratively speaking) touching another?
3. If most people stick with the “corporate or sophisticated” approach, which approach do you think will stand out from the rest — your Chicken Karma holiday card? Or a more traditional corporate card?
4. I always prefer to work with/for people with a sense of humor, folks who aren’t afraid to bend the rules, to show a little personality, to have — gasp! — fun on the job. So I’ve always appreciated the non-traditional approaches. People who aren’t afraid to color outside the lines are always the ones I want as clients, employers, or co-workers.
I think you’ll find people will remember Lois K. Geller and her agency long after they’ve forgotten other agencies/vendors/business contacts that chose to send traditional holiday cards this year. So no matter how you slice it, I think what you did was both smart and fun.
And isn’t that what direct marketing is all about?
Cheers (and a heapin’ helping of Chicken Karma),
Senior Director at McGraw-Hill Construction
I am a little discouraged this year by all of the email cards – few offer any humor or passion – and most claim to be “green” simply because the sender did not send anything on paper. On top of that, because the ecards are so easy and cheep to send, I’m getting them from many people and businesses that I don’t really know. One exception is a card that also includes a contribution to a tree planting project – that at least means that the sender has invested more than just hitting the send button.
Donald Condit wrote:
Hi Lois — I love the chick. I almost always steer clients away from a corporate voice.
The trick for many — like my regional bank and others — is to persuade customers that they are getting a more personal relationship with this client without having to sacrifice anything that our clients’ big-city competitors can offer.
Everyone responds to a personal approach, but they will put up with impersonal treatment (despite intense resentment) if they think it’s necessary to get what they need — especially in such categories as banking or other high-end or services or services related to personal risk.
This came through loud and clear in lots of groups we ran for this bank.
Now, as for the bleak outlook for the year… We often send clients a basket of interesting treats revolving around a relevant theme. For our friends up the road from you, in Stuart, we just sent a basket full of reminders (products) of terrific companies, products and ideas that were born during the Great Depression or subsequent recessions. It’s an impressive lineup. We celebrated creativity and courage — and, I hope, inspired this client to persevere despite market pressures.
Besides all of that, I have to comment on your blog. I love to read your writing. What a pleasure it is!
Enjoy the holiday, my friend. Don
Kerry Colligan wrote:
Lois, I agree with your expectations for a “down” year, but I don’t immediately connect the “spring chicken” with new business beginnings. I’m not immediately seeing the strategy here. Is your overall brand message “we’re a new chicken, too”? I’d guess that’s an access point to a larger conversation about how MG uses DM in a contracting economy to help clients start to do business again.
If you’re going for “different” in the holiday communication channel, I think you’re there. I’m not sure it’s memorable.
Ruth P. Stevens
Lois, I just loved your card this year. Thank you! The new beginnings chicken is so sweet. And let’s just hope the economy improves in ’09! Yipes! My new beginnings involve getting back on my feet, which should be in another 4-6 weeks. I am actually enjoying the time at home, since it’s allowed me to get caught up on many things. Clearing out files, finishing projects, even balancing my checkbook!
Best wishes to you,
If you’d like to win the original 9” X 12” New Beginnings Chick painting by Donald Sexauer, just share your new beginnings story below… The best story wins.