The best birthday card ever?

A few years ago a good friend of mine started a greeting card business with all sorts of quirky cards for very specific events – buying a new Xbox; embarrassing faux-pas at the office holiday party; most sleepless nights in a row with a new baby….  When he took the cards to buyers, they all told him that the cards were great, but what they needed to see were more birthday cards, anniversary cards, and Valentine ’s Day cards.

The question he asked and we all need to ask today is: do I want to be in the business of trying to create the best birthday card ever?  Do I want to toil away and hope beyond hope that I’ll rise to the top – using the same tools and tactics as everyone else, but doing it just a little bit better?

You know:

Sure everyone does email campaigns, but ours is going to stand out a bit more because we’re going to tweak the headlines and up our open rates…

Sure everyone creates annual reports, but ours will be snappier, crisper, more memorable…

Sure everyone writes a quarterly email that no one reads, but this is what everyone expects, so we have to do it too…

Really?  You actually don’t need to do those things that everyone else does, and you certainly, certainly don’t need to do them in the WAY everyone does them (please!).

You don’t need to spend your organizational energy on things that “people expect.” Who are these “people” anyway?  What exactly do they expect?  Why?

Maybe these expectations are out there, and maybe they’re right, but I’d pressure test that a lot before spending organizational energy on creating another me-too thing that’s fighting for its life to be just-a-bit-above-average.

The chance that you write the world’s best, most memorable birthday card are pretty slim.  But creating the funniest “office party holiday gift card” ever – and getting that card in front of the people who buy and sell holiday gifts…well that sounds a lot more possible and a lot more fun.

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