grab bag blog

This is where I talk about my work, my discoveries, my creative process, and the ins and outs of marketing in the arts.

Give the Gift of the Unexpected

December 13, 2013

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I received this in the mail the other day, because I still subscribe to Netflix’s physical disc service. It’s their regular red envelope, but with a Santa Clause candy cane design on the back. I’ve seen them do this before throughout the year, especially for the major holidays like Christmas and Halloween.

Netflix envelope

What struck me about it is that they didn’t have to do this. Their iconic red envelopes are well-known and a part of their brand. The company is doing very well for itself, thanks to its video streaming service. So from a purely conservative, capitalist point of view, putting new artwork on the items you are sending to your already-invested customers seems like a waste of money. After all, they did have to hire a designer to create this art, and possibly pay a few more cents for the extra ink. So why do it?

Because it adds joy. In every interaction you have with a client, a customer, a patron, a donor— you have the opportunity to give them something delightful and unexpected. It may not be necessary, but it makes the whole experience better. I can honestly say that not only does Netflix deliver to me the services I pay them for, but their product sometimes makes me smile when I wasn’t expecting to. And that helps build affinity and loyalty in a way that simply delivering the bare minimum doesn’t.

I ate at a restaurant last night. When the server delivered the bill, she had drawn a Christmas stocking at the bottom under the total, colored it in, and written “Happy Holidays.” She didn’t need to add that little garnish to the experience, but she did anyway, and it brightened my evening. It made the whole experience a little more special.

And isn’t that what you want? Invested clients and patrons who remember their experiences with you and your organization as something special? So make a habit of this kind of gift-giving. Even if it costs you a little time or money now, regularly injecting playfulness and joy into your work and your interactions will improve everything you touch.


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