A friend recently posted a photo on Facebook of this cute card, received free with a purchase from Walgreens.   She also showed the message that accompanied it encouraging her to “share a little gratitude with the people who matter the most.” She said she appreciated the reminder to send more cards to friends and family members.

The cost of this joint marketing promotion by Hallmark and Walgreens is undoubtedly pretty low – paper is inexpensive, after all – but it’s garnering the kind of social media buzz that is priceless.  The reason that it’s effective is that the message is not “buy cards” – but to “put more care in the world.”

What could you do that might have a similar effect?  We recently asked customers to nominate someone who had made a difference in the community during the first months of COVID-19, and sent the top 25 a letter of appreciation with a gift card.  Although we didn’t do this in order to promote our business, several of the recipients did post something about how delighted they were to be recognized – and tagged our store.  It was nice to know that our act of encouraging kindness was appreciated.

The pandemic presents us with a unique opportunity to surprise and delight curbside pickup customers by putting a free gift and message into the bag.  Since we can’t offer the kind of personal interaction that we all try to present as part of our store’s retail experience, this is a chance to make up for it – and to do good at the same time.

We had ordered individually wrapped candies for the Monroe Street Chocolate Walk in April – an event that was of course cancelled. These special chocolates are close to their “sell by” date, so we’ll use them as a lagniappe (the Cajun French term for a small gift given to a customer at the time of a purchase) in customer bags this week.  I’m thinking of labeling one “Thank you for being a great customer” and a second one “Thank you for being a great ______” with a note suggesting that they pass it on to someone they’re grateful for.

While it’s possible that a few customers might post about this on Instagram or Facebook, I think that encouraging kindness is its own reward.  We hope that Walgreens and Hallmark won’t mind us following their example – our world that needs more gratitude, and less division, as we all cope with the effects of the pandemic.

Happy Retailing,
Carol “Orange” Schroeder

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