Free Cards


Xerox developed many of the innovations that are widely available today. Steve Jobs, former Apple CEO, worked at Xerox and learned from the research and development projects at the company. Xerox had the business intelligence and the engineering teams to develop these products, but couldn’t sell any of their new innovations. They failed to integrate marketing into the design of the new innovations.

Last year, December, I created the graphic you see above in collaboration with Stevag Restaurant and Bar - we created a new type of holiday cards. The card shared a similar greeting that is common among the types of cards purchased during the holiday period, except we removed images related to trees and gave people art. Free art. One hundred of these cards were made and dropped off at the restaurant to be distributed to the best customers. In total, about 30 cards were distributed and the other 70 will have to be scrapped.

The project was not done to test the market to become the next Papyrus or Hallmark in the card business. The goal was to distribute at least 50% of the cards, which we failed on, and to get feedback on the Free Art in place of pine trees and Santa Claus. The first issue with the distribution was that the cards were provided only if the owner of the restaurant remembered to give the cards. The second was we did not request any documented feedback from the customers.The word of mouth feedback was insufficient to gain any valuable insights on what the customer thought about the card and if they would like something similar in the next holiday period.

Here’s how we would approach it the next time.  As the creator, one way to market these cards would be to visit the restaurant at different times of the day on different days and hand out the cards without the specification of the best customers. The best customers at the restaurant are not necessarily the best customers for this type of project. The second thing, which was alluded to above, would be to ask for a feedback through an exchange of an email with the customers or a quick binary test - do you like or not? The last issue was that the marketing for this project was outsourced to a third party by me, the creator and the results could have been avoided if attempts were made to understand the customers and what their wants, needs and hopes were for the holiday season. 

This was not an expensive project – it cost a few hundred dollars, however, the lessons can be applied in the future to bigger projects. Marketing is not advertising, marketing must be built into the product design at outset. We created a new type of card, but failed to integrate the right marketing into the project. We chose to distribute to the best customers for the restaurant, not customers who liked and wanted Free Art.

I believe true artists sometimes fail to differentiate between advertising and marketing. Marketing is not what you do after the product is completed. It must be built in from the conception to a tangible product for sale. in turn, we arrive at the pertinent questions for any marketer - who is it for, and what is it for?