If We Can’t Help You Grow Your Business - We Can Help You Grow Your Garden!

August 13, 2010 - Several years ago, marketing guru Seth Godin gave a presentation at the TED conference on the importance of standing out. We have all heard the term..."Best thing since sliced Bread", but did you know it took 15 years after the invention of sliced bread before it was widely accepted? Until Wonder Bread came along and SOLD the concept, no one wanted it. Your product or service must stand out for someone to first notice it, before you ever have a chance at selling it. The example he gives is... "you drive down a road and see a cow - so what?  But if it were a purple cow, you would stop (or at least slow down) to take a closer look.  If something is different or remarkable, it gets talked about.  Average products for average people will no longer work. We live in an age of specialization. You sell to people who are listening, and hopefully those people will tell their friends."  Bottom line - Don't be boring! Gordin goes onto say that "The riskiest thing you can do now is to be safe". So how can you apply this to your business?

Here is one example.  When it came time for a new business card, I wanted something that would not be boring, and a card that would immediatly start a conversation.  Over the past twenty years we have had several different business cards that included everything from a die-cut floppy disk, to a tri-fold card that opened to form a box (suggesting we could help you "think outside the box"), to a mini floppy disc card that provided an instant overview of our work each time we gave it out.  In that tradition, I wanted a new card that reflected what we do, along with something unique to our studio.  At a company brainstorming session, one common theme was that our work often helped our clients grow and prosper.  So how do we communicate that in a business card?

I did a lot of research into innovative and interesting business cards and hit upon the idea of using a seed packet.  Since the epic studio has beautiful gardenias, segos and Mexican fan palms all around it, I thought the concept that "we can help you grow your business" made sense.  Making it happen turned out to be a challenge.  I started an internet search on companies that could print white seed packets the size of business cards, and after several days, I finally found a printer in Maine ( Sheppard Envelope Mfg. Co.) that would print 1000 envelopes with custom green ink on both sides.  I placed my order for the envelopes and set out to find just the right seeds to include in the packet.

Finding seeds was a lot easier, but not without problems.  I checked a number of online seed catalogs and decided that "Forget-me-Nots" would be perfect, and found them in bulk on Amazon. I placed an order for 50,000 seeds and waited a few days for them to come in.  They arrived in a small envelope, and it turns out that you can easily hold 50,000 of these tiny seeds in the palm of your hand, and they cost $49.  I figured that this "bulk" order would be enough for about 50 business cards.  So I went back to the internet to search for an alternative and hit paydirt (so to speak). 

Eden Brothers Seed Company of Dahlonega, Georgia has a wonderful web site and very helpful people in their customer service department.  I explained what I was trying to do, and their suggestion was to buy a one pound bag of Texas Wildflower Seeds.  They recommended a variety that could be planted in the winter and would bloom in the spring.  These seeds also happen to be on sale for $14.95.  I placed the order, and when they arrived they were perfect for what I had in mind.  I just added the forget-me-not seeds to the bag and gave it a good shake.

At the same time, we created a one page sell sheet that had a spot for us to tip in a seed packet.  We did a mailing of 500 pieced and the comments we received were wonderful. I also enjoy handing out my cards and seeing how people react to getting a card that is different from most others.  It is great for breaking the ice.  When I hand them the card, I use it as an opportunity to introduce them to epic software and give a 30 second elevator pitch on what we do.  At the end of the pitch, I always say..."If we can't help you grow your business, we can at least help you grow your garden."  Some people have actually used the card for its intended purpose.  Click on the photos on the right to see Bill Buck, Attorney at Law in Houston who planted the seeds and was kind enough to send us a photo showing the results in his beautiful garden.

The moral of the story is to look for Purple Cow opportunities to promote your business, your products and services even with something as simple as a business card.  And above all, Don't Be Boring!