Happy Mother’s Day. Love, Fido.

05/15/2012 1 Comment by Anthony

Sunday, May 13 was Mother’s day – a noble day to be sure. Like any good son I was off to find my mother a fitting card to express my appreciation to her for and all the things she’s done and does in my life (love you mom!). On my journey to find “the perfect card” I discovered that sons and daughters weren’t the only ones looking to give mom a boost this May.

Let’s face it, a card is just part of the equation in Mother’s day isn’t it? It’s about doing something nice for mom, buying her some flowers, or that special gift that only she can appreciate (citing all the “ash trays” I’ve ever made for my mother who is a non-smoker…holding onto those monstrosities is true motherly love).

The mission
Being a man, I rarely set foot in the card section of a store (never in a store exclusively for cards, sorry Hallmark) and found myself lost and a bit overwhelmed. The nice people who laid out the card section had large signs in red that might as well have read, “ATTENTION ALL MEN: Red indicates this section is dedicated to buying mother’s day cards, we know you don’t know where to go so just get over here already.” They even put the date “Sunday, May 13th” in aisle. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it was helpful.

There were many categories of cards to choose from:

  • “Son to mother”
  • “Daughter to Mother”
  • “Mother – humorous”
  • “Pet to mother”

Woah….did I read that last one right, “pet” to mother? As in your pet wants to send a card to its mother? No, I had in fact found the dedicated section of cards for you to buy on the behalf of your pet to give to your mother.

Bizarre? Possibly. Genius, yes.

Find a category and dominate
Below is a pic I snagged to illuminate the descriptions above.

After this shopping trip I can firmly tell you two things:

  1. I will never spend money on a card to give to my mother from a pet…it’s just not going to happen. Period.
  2. The company that came up with this new category of “from your pet” is brilliant.

While I may not spend extra money for a pet card, there are many others who will. As a marketer I don’t like using abstract terms like “many”, but for the sake of this blog post let’s just roll with this ambiguous term. After all, we can say there were enough people in the market to justify printing and distributing an entire section of cards from animals to people, so “many” is probably “a lot”, but I digress…

This card company created an entirely new category of customer – the pet lover. In stead of trying to bark louder (pun intended) and generate noise to stand out of this intensely competitive market, they flipped the market on it’s head. Buy a card for a person from your pet.

Why is this genius? Let me ask this question…is anyone else doing this?

At the present time it’s quite possible there are many companies making pet cards for retail sales, and for the time considerations of this blog post I didn’t research all the finer details. But I can certainly say that at one point there was only a single company doing this. They created a new category and dominated it as the only player.

Let your customers do the heavy lifting
There was one more item to notice in the picture. Did you see it?+2 points if you did! These cards were crowdsourced! In a nutshell, crowdsourcing is when you let the “crowd” – “source” your ideas for you. It’s being done more and more by companies today, in fact, next time you sip a Sam Adams it might just be the brew you had a hand in crafting. Crowdsourcing puts the power in the hands of the customer. Imagine that, your customers telling you what they want to buy from you? Feels like a dream doesn’t it? Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are making this very much a reality. Food for thought.

Final thoughts
I can’t tell you if  “pet cards” was an idea that was crowdsourced, or just the specific cards in this instance. I can say that both concepts were brilliant and executed just as well. Anytime you can create a new category and dominate, this places you in a solid position to lead your market for a long time – no matter how absurd your market may be.

Still not convinced? These cards sell for around $3.99 a pop. Not bad for four color printing with a 800% margin$.

Question of the day:
What is a new category you can create and dominate? Do you have any “pet cards” laying around to flip the market in it’s head?

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