You’re probably thinking I’m referencing an early experiment with a new turkey recipe in this title. Not exactly…

Last Thursday, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we decided to make our Thanksgiving greeting cards free for two days—completely free, with no strings attached. In this time of giving thanks, we hoped people would take this opportunity to reach out to a few more friends and family members due to the promotion.

“People do say thanks in many ways and to many people…”

We could have restricted this offer to just one card or done something else to prevent overuse, but we chose not to in the spirit of the occasion and ended up underestimating two important learnings. First, it was disheartening to find out how many customers took advantage of the offer in an abusive way. It wasn’t even close to the majority of our customers, but enough people abused the offer to really sour the spirit of what we were trying to do. In just one of several disappointing examples, we had someone try to order 20,000 free Thanksgiving cards with the intent of reselling them. We canceled that order, but it was a perfect example of how disappointed we were in some shoppers during the course of the week.

The other important learning, which we found much more uplifting, was that people do say thanks in many ways and to many people. We were equally overwhelmed by the number of people who embraced this opportunity to reach out in a more intimate way to say “Thanks,” or “We miss you,” or “We are happy to have you in our lives,” to long distance relatives who will be missed or simply to friends spread out throughout the country. There were customers who personalized more than a dozen cards to send to their loved ones, and we were blown away by the response of these dear friends of Tiny Prints.

A day into our two day promotion, however, we had to end it. We did honor the code for everyone who contacted us when we terminated the offer early, but the possibility of greater abuse and the overwhelming demand meant that we would have inevitably disappointed thousands of customers with late orders.

Someone pointed out to me that I should not be this candid about ending the promotion early because it makes us seem inexperienced and underprepared. But the truth is, we didn’t take these factors into account. What’s also true is that, like always, we learn from mistakes like this. And we learned a lot last week.

We’re really excited to do this kind of promotion again, only this time with better preparation and with an equally great offer that doesn’t allow a few rotten apples to ruin it for everyone else. We’ll be doing more of these promotions during the holidays, so I hope you’ll come back to visit often or even join our email list so you can be the first to know.

Another thing that I continue to learn with every unexpected turn we face is how this company rallies together. Our family spirit continues to amaze me. Staff members from every department of the company pitched in and even worked over the weekend, bringing in their families (yes those are my kids below, and don’t worry—we double checked their work!) to ensure that we did not disappoint customers. Every one of our six core values shone through these past few days, and it’s been a heartfelt and humbling experience for all of us.

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20 Responses

  1. Amanda says:

    I am so sorry to hear that people tried to take advantage of the situation, that is so disheartening, but at least there were a few people to really make it worth while and positive!

  2. Lisa Size says:

    A mother of a good friend of mine always says “No good deed goes unpunished”. i hate to think that way but there usually are those few that prove that true. Good for you for soldiering through. What you guys tried to do is why i will continue to be a loyal customer, even through i haven’t even rec’d my 1st order from you yet. I’m anxiously awaiting to see my 2010 xmas cards in my mailbox. i know they’ll be beautiful, and i wish you luck in your growing pains and learning curves.

  3. Una Maher says:

    Thank so much for this amazing promotion, I sent cards to some wonderful friends. I’m Irish and don’t usually send Thanksgiving cards so am sure they’ll be surprised to get them. It’s such a shame some tried to abuse this generous offer from your company.
    Thanks for all your hard work, I love your cards!!

  4. Bethany says:

    You all are such a great company!

  5. Jill Sandberg says:

    After reading this, I love this company even more!!!
    Ordered Christmas cards a while ago – my first ever order from your company. Chose it mainly for the wonderful, great design options. (I had actually saved a card I received last year, that said it was made by Tiny Prints to remember to check you out). Customer service/delivery/quality was excellent.

    Thank you for doing what you do! And, don’t give up on all of your promotions — I always enjoy a free card or two (can’t believe the guy trying to order 20,000)!!!
    Have a great day and wonderful holiday season,

  6. Mandy says:

    I think it was wonderful that you were offering such a promotion in the first place, and very sad that people would take advantage of it! I do want to point out that not EVERYONE who contacted you had the promotion honored though. I spent over an hour creating cards for a few family members, and when I contacted your online chat support person, he informed me that there was no way you could still honor the promotion. I’m sorry that the greedy people of the world ruined this for you and everyone else! 🙁

  7. Caryn says:

    Wow, as someone who partook of your AMAZING offer, I am so sorry that it soured for you. I was so excited for my children to be able to send their own greetings to our family, and they were so happy to be told: “pick whatever card you want and design it how you want!” I had just ordered our Christmas cards from TinyPrints and they didn’t have as much say in those as they wanted.

    I want to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU and you have certainly gained our loyalty both with the quality of your product, and the excellence of your customer service.
    A Devoted Customer

  8. Michelle S says:

    Thank you so much again for the promotion Tiny Prints. I have used you in the past and loved my baby’s Birth Announcements. I had designed a Christmas card at another site this year (yet to be purchased) but because of the generosity of this promotion and customer service I received from your company I am happy to say I am going to be using Tiny Prints for our cards this year and probably all future cards / announcements / invitations. Thank you!

  9. Ed says:

    Thank you everyone for your kind words and for being such wonderful customers, way more genuine customers took advantage of the promotion than the abusers, and we really thank you for embracing the spirit of the season. Mandy, I’ve emailed you but I’m surprised you were told we could not honor the promo – I hope you contact us so we can make that up.

  10. Emily says:

    I just wanted to let you know that you did an amazing thing for a lot of families I know. This has been a rough year financially for a lot of our friends and I know several moms that chose to send out Thanksgiving cards this year instead of Christmas cards because of your generous offer. You have lifted a weight (even a small little one) off their shoulders and this small act from your company has made such a BIG difference to their families. Thank you so much for offering the promotion!

  11. WOW we here at WdWeb (parent company to vertio/PhotoScramble/MorePhotos/Wedding Details) are so sorry to hear about this abuse! What a surprise, we are a small company(too)with many divisions and we too are family oriented and pretty darn honest; so when we heard someone wanted to order 20,000 cards and re-sell them..it blew our minds! So sad to think that anyone would ever consider such a ting. (man the nerve!) So thank you for your candor and may you all have a wonderful peaceful Thanksgiving, we will keep spreading the word about Tiny Prints!
    Liza and the team here at WdWeb

  12. Rebecca Darling says:

    What a wonderful thing to do for your customers!! As a long time customer (I have ordered my Christmas cards form you for the past 3 years), I plan on using you again this year. I had an offer from the “s” place for 50 free cads, but after hearing what you did for your customers, I am staying with you!!

    Thanks for being an awesome company that gives back too!

  13. shari schauber says:

    I cannot imagine a christmas without sending out your christmas cards…i have had friends that have asked why i do not go to the store and buy them for 10 rather than spending 100or so. I feel it is a piece of myself I am sending my friends and relatives…some do not see our children during the year and it is so good to update them with a year of pictures all in one card. Thanks for the awesome work that you do!!! Excited too to receive these cards to send out to my loved ones…

  14. Ed says:

    Emily, Liza, Rebecca and Shari – thank you for your wonderful comments, happy Thanksgiving!

  15. Janelle says:

    I too had to do a double take but I did order Thanksgiving cards for our close family and friends. I normally don’t send out Thanksgiving cards (I can barely send out Christmas cards on time) but thanks to your amazing promotion, I decided to take some to recognize those special people in our lives. They were totally blown away with the cards and really appreciated it. It is something that my family has decided that will be a tradition every year!
    I have used tiny prints for my children’s birth announcements and recently ordered mailing labels and gift tags. I have to say that after hearing about this, I will definitely be a loyal tiny prints customer! Like Lisa said, no good deed goes unpunished! You guys are amazing!

  16. Robin Stephens says:

    I think most customers, me included, appreciate honesty. Although, I am not glad to hear of the people taking advantage; I am glad to hear your honesty. Many companies get too big to really care about the people, and it is shame people tried to take advantage of such of a wonderful, touching gesture. I didn’t order a card, didn’t even know about the promotion. But it is a great thing you did and you should be proud of yourselves, your company, and your work.

  17. Shari Brough says:

    I had not used tiny Prints until I was informed of your gracious promotion. Needless to say, I will use your company again because it was so very obvious that Tiny Prints is a sincerely positive and good-natured business! I had a ball designing cards for my friends and family! So, thank you for spending your weekend toiling to prepare cards for my friends and family to receive! You rock!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  18. Theresa says:

    Thank you first of all for the awesome promotion, and secondly for your honesty about the rough learning curve. I had never heard of your site before, but this promotion caught my eye and I will be happy to order from you again in the future! I designed a very cute card with pictures of our son to send to family – specifically to my mother-in-law, who was recently diagnosed with cancer and will be having surgery tomorrow to hopefully remove it all. This Thanksgiving card will certainly make her smile and remind her of all we have to be thankful for, no matter what life throws at us. THANK YOU!

  19. Ed says:

    Janelle, Robin, Shari and Theresa – this outpouring of positive feedback from folks on this blog and on our facebook page (facebook.com/tinyprints) makes this learning experience totally worthwhile and heartwarming. Like I mentioned, we know that many many more people embraced the spirit of Thanksgiving rather than abusing the system, so thank you to everyone. We’re a small company still learning the ropes, but we definitely will be doing more of these offers so stay tuned!

  20. Bravo! Thanks for being upfront and honest when it was probably hard to do!

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