Is playfulness good for business?

By August 31, 2009blog

The best part of being an entrepreneur for me is the creative freedom… the freedom to try ANYTHING that may delight or inspire customers. I love trying new things and then discovering whether it had an impact, moved the needle, or made a difference.

For example in working with PosterBrain (they make posters) this past week, we decided to get a little playful in our followup emails to customers who had just received their posters in the mail. The email went like this:
“Subject: Hi Sharon, how’s your poster order?

Hi Sharon,
Did your poster order get to you ok? What did you think of the quality (and your experience with us)?

More importantly, how’s your hair today? Can’t wait to hear.

Have the best day ever,
Customer Love Team”

Two things to note about this email:
1. It gets a HUGE 30% response rate because it’s short, personable, and feels handwritten… when compared to a typical “give us feedback and click on this link to this long survey”. Something that I learned at RegOnline when we did a similar automated followup email after a customer ran their first event with us.

2. “More importantly, how’s your hair today?” – unconventional, but we decided to try the playfulness to see how people responded.

Half replied back playfully:

“Poster is amazing thank you! My hair is magnificant hahaha. How is your hair? Hope your day is amazing”

“The quality and experience was excellent, I rank it a 9 out of 10! Iv even told my friends about it… As for my hair…it is not looking good today at all…but forunatly I am getting a haircut tomorrow so hopefully that will spruce things up a bit!”

“ I love your company. My hair looks fabulous; thanks for asking.”

And most importantly, it’s a great hair day today. (that was the funniest thing and totally made my day when I read your e-mail)”

Half didn’t comment at all. And a few people replied with confusion about why we asked about their hair.

This is why I LOVE being an entrepreneur! Using creativity (and a little goofiness) to connect with customers in an unexpected way. With PosterBrain we are playing with ways to provide MORE than an amazing poster, fast & easy – we want to bring a smile or a laugh to our customers.

With help from my friend and founder of Moosejaw (they take playfulness to an incredible level) we are discovering ways to do that. Other examples:
Signing our emails with “Have the best day ever” and including lines like ” If you are bored, please tell seven friends, three strangers, and two enemies good things about us.” At RegOnline we made a company cookbook for the holidays and sent it to all our users. It felt incredibly goofy the first time we did it. AND users STILL rave about it every year and ask if it’s ok to copy the idea for their organization.

I have found that enthusiasm and playfulness get echoed back to the organization ten fold and is great for business.

Now, there are ALWAYS a group of people who DON’T want the playfulness in their business interactions – and that’s ok. I’ve never wanted to be all things to all people in my businesses – I just want to resonnate with those who find delight in my business creations. πŸ™‚ Test out getting a little more playfulness in your organization and see what happens.

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