Chris Thomas has been an entrepreneur waiting to happen his entire life. Like many of us who have entrepreneurial leanings, he’s had his share of good and bad ideas, but a year ago something started to stick.
He had been trying to figure out how to combine his love for handmade products from the South with his natural affinity for curating interesting things other people haven’t yet discovered. The end result is Made South, a quarterly subscription service that delivers interesting surprises from Southern makers.
Chris gets that everything is marketing now and his first Made South shipment revealed this understanding in a dozen ways like how he got his own branded tape for the box even though it would have been cheaper and faster to buy something ordinary.
He pushed this idea further by including a thank you note from his kids. Every subscriber got one of those.
He knows there’s a story beyond shipping a product and the story is told at multiple levels:
- The Made South story that includes his own journey and the life of his family.
- The big story about supporting American (and in this case Southern-American) made goods.
- The individual stories of each maker included in that month’s shipment.
To tell these stories, each shipment includes Maker Notes. The Maker Notes provide an interesting bit of insight into the people behind the products but it’s all wrapped around Chris and the full experience of the Thomas Family and their journey with Made South.
Chris didn’t have to do all of that. The tape and the notes from his kids and the Maker Notes and even an inaugural pin were all extra. He could have just shipped the three items. Technically speaking that’s what people were signing up for, but Chris is trying to create an experience in a box rather than a quarterly shipment of stuff. That’s why this is going to work.
The Connection To Your Business
In a world where everything is marketing you have to evaluate every aspect of your business that touches the customer. If a policy impacts a customer you should review it. If your CEO communicates with the customer you should work with him or her to make it count and make it personal.
Or just start with a box. If the box your product ships in could be more interesting, why wouldn’t you make it that way? A box is just a box like everyone else until you treat it like something more. If you look at it as just a box you’re going to take the cheap and easy route. If, however, you see it as part of your marketing (and it is) that tells a little more about you and your company, you will find that the box and the label and even the packing materials inside say everything about you. When’s the last time you looked at one of your boxes?
The bottom line is that the obvious thing to do is deliver the product your customer is buying. The not-so-obvious thing is that everything that goes into the customer buying and receiving the product is just as important to your business as the sale.