Today, TechCrunch called out some numbers from the folks over at JiWire that quantify how far people are willing to travel to get higher levels of discounts. Wait – people will travel further for bigger discounts? No way!

Kidding aside… first, this overly simplified take on the data makes me think a lot of people way undervalue their time. 40 percent of respondents will travel up to an hour for a 40% discount on a $100 item? People – haven’t you heard of Woot?

Second, while the implications of this are pretty obvious for location-based promotions, I’d love to see some data that tells the story of how much “work” people will do in exchange for incentives online. How many friends’ email addresses will Joe sell out share in exchange for more vegetables for their virtual farm? How many completely irrelevant offers will Franklin click on to build up points for a gift card? How many times will Susie refresh a page to get a free sample worth less than a buck? What are the incentives required to get engaged users of your product to enthusiastically tell their friends?

I ran a promo in late 2010 where a beauty product that’s normally $89 was offered on an extremely high profile national TV show for just $10. The resulting traffic to the website was roughly 500 times average. The site slowed to a crawl, and would-be customers had difficulty purchasing. One of the most amazing things about this offer was the number of people who complained angrily via Facebook and the more traditional customer service channels that they’d been “refreshing for ten hours” to make the purchase. Important feedback, and very helpful in understanding the level of emotional investment in the product, but the time investment people were willing to give up was way higher than I’d have suspected. The vocal folks in this case were a small minority compared to the overall sales, and I think it’s important to not place too much value on the anecdotal information. Still, ten hours of refreshing to save $79 on a non-essential cosmetic product?

I’m a big fan of Hello Lucky. They make awesome letterpress cards – nice heavy paper and cool designs, especially the cards with monkeys on them. I’ve purchased lots of cards from local shops when I’m short on time, but I mostly I order direct from HelloLucky.com. Angelica has also ordered directly from their site.

Last night, we found two envelopes from Hello Lucky in our mail – one for me, one for Angelica. Each envelope contained a “Happy Halloween From Hello Lucky” postcard and a blank Halloween card with envelope.

The postcard has a playful poem that basically says “Hey, it’s Halloween now, but soon it’ll be Christmas, so send this free card to someone now and make sure to plan ahead so you can send awesome cards for the holidays. Oh, and by the way, here’s a coupon code.” There are two codes: one for 3 free samples of holiday cards, and another for 15% off site-wide. The coupon codes have a pretty tight expiration date, which is good. This should help drive home the point of “It’s go time. Order your cards now.”

This is very interesting to me. I’m a jaded online marketer, so of course I immediately started dissecting their strategy. But I’ll admit I was totally jazzed to get a Halloween card from Hello Lucky, even if Angelica did get the cooler card.

I like to imagine that companies that are truly driven by passion for making awesome stuff and creating delightful experiences come by these kinds of marketing ideas in a “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to just send some cards to our customers?” kind of way, with the number-crunching and ROI scenarios coming afterwards. Look, I know that this is essentially a free sample mailer. Not exactly a groundbreaking concept, but kickass in execution. I seriously doubt the average Hello Lucky customer who receives one of these is going to say, “Well, duh, they’re just sending me a free card so I’ll but more stuff from them.” They’re going to say, “AWESOME!”

  1. The sample is an excellent reminder of how great the Hello Lucky cards are. I get points for sending someone an awesome card, and Hello Lucky gets their cards in front of another potentially new customer.
  2. The timing is perfect – close enough to Christmas that it makes sense to buy holiday cards, but not so close that anyone will worry about whether the cards will arrive in time to mail out in time for Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus.
  3. In spite of having not one, but two coupon codes, the whole thing feels more like I just got something from a friend, not some smarmy hard-sell marketing materials. Plus, I get the option of using coupon code A to get more free stuff, or coupon B to get 15% off. Beautiful, and a nice test to see what folks will respond to.

Hello Lucky faces significant challenges in getting folks to order directly from them online. I don’t have any data on this, but I’d bet I’m not the only person who picks up cards on the way to the event the card is celebrating. It’s easy to grab a crappy, last minute greeting card at the grocery store if I’m not planning ahead. Mailing cards in a timely fashion? Very difficult for me.

This campaign short-circuits those issues, with a physical reminder of the very high quality of Hello Lucky’s cards and a sensible nudge to get a jump on the holiday season. I’d bet lots of folks will be thankful not only for the coupon, but for the gentle reminder as well. Nice work.

© 2013 Surj's House of Awesome

Surj's House of Awesome

Surj Gish – eCommerce & Online Marketing Expert / Gearhead / Musician