I have an aunt – really she is my great-aunt (my grandmother’s sister) – who sends out greeting cards to everyone she knows for every important occasion.  This may seem simple, but it is no small feat.  She has six children of her own, countless grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and 8 brothers and sisters most of whom have very large families of their own.  And she sends every one of those people cards for their birthdays, anniversaries, the birth of babies, and sympathy and get well cards.  I have no idea how many friends she does this for, as well.  I don’t know how she keeps organized enough to do this.  I’m sure it’s not some fancy technology program she’s using – she’s in her 80’s now.  But I think someday both the U.S. Post Office and Hallmark are going to go out of business when she stops sending those cards.

It really struck me a few years ago when I got married and she started sending birthday cards to my husband, who she barely knows.  But it was really special that she took the effort to find a card that she thought he would like, sign it, hand address an envelope and send it off to him.  In an age of email, forwards, retweets and countless other forms of really easy communication, it means a lot when someone takes the time to handwrite a note and send it to you.

So what’s the tie to marketing and business, you ask?  It’s about standing out from the crowd.  Would people start paying attention to you if they got a hand written note in the mail or a greeting card on their birthday?  It’s about generosity for no reason and with no other motivation than goodwill.  It’s about taking a genuine interest in other people’s lives outside of just business.  That’s the best kind of marketing you could ever hope to do – just building up goodwill with your target audience so they like you and want to buy things from you that you are selling.  What could you do today to create that kind of goodwill with your target audience?