Offline Marketing with Chocolates and Birthday Cards

Note: This post was part of the “Marketing That Works” Ideas Contest, showcasing 20 of the most innovative marketing ideas from the blogosphere’s up and coming marketers. We’ve since picked a winner – check out this post for the details! :)

Hey, I’m Lain Ehmann, and I’m here to help you bewitch your market and enchant your audience!

Want to know how I used birthday cards and chocolate to build a six-figure business in just a little over a year?

Watch this video and I’ll share:

  • Why internet marketers need to think “high touch”
  • How the Pony Express can be your best friend
  • Four things to keep in mind when wooing your customers with offline marketing techniques

…all in only six minutes!


Lain Ehmannarray(4) { ["AI"]=> string(3) "258" ["author_name"]=> string(11) "Lain Ehmann" ["author_email"]=> string(17) "lain@fakemail.com" ["author_bio"]=> string(238) "Lain Ehmann (<a href="http://www.twitter.com/bizlovepotion" target="_blank">@BizLovePotion</a>) is a fast-talking, fast-acting human online entrepreneur with a penchant for paper, scissors, and glue sticks." }
Lain Ehmann
Lain Ehmann (@BizLovePotion) is a fast-talking, fast-acting human online entrepreneur with a penchant for paper, scissors, and glue sticks.


  1. Lain, I really love your post.

    High-value, personable, engaging and… VIDEO! :)

    Thank you :)

    I was toying with the idea of doing a video myself, and you (and Paul Wolfe + Adrienne Smith :P) have just inspired me to add one to my post.

    Now to the meat of things:

    There is so much power in physical things, way beyond what most people realize, and your highlighting of this is awesome.

    Danny implemented your tips with his T-Shirts, and I have to say, I’m thrilled with mine, and have been repping it hard around Toronto.

    (It helps that Firepole is so well done, and sexy enough value that I can rep it with pride.)

    Anyway, rock on, and congrats on your success!

    • Martin says:

      Hey Jason check it there, you are drooling…LOL kidding. You are right the article and the video are great.

      • The world needs more ‘droolers’, Martin. <– Tweet this 😀

        How many times have you or someone you know written a post to a luke-warm, silent, or even discouraging reception?

        I am f***ing proud as hell to 'drool' :) People RAVE about my stuff, and I'm happy to give back. If someone wins this contest who *isnt* me (ridiculous :P), I know that I've contributed TONS of quality comments and encouragement to a community who deserves it.

        Of course, I imagine you agree, as you loved the post and video too 😉

  2. Lain says:

    Thanks so much, Jason! I love video. Brings out the ham in me. :)
    Can’t wait to get my t-shirt – I will wear it with pride! 😉

  3. Lain says:

    Ham is good! 😉 Or bacon….

  4. Patti Winker says:

    WOW Lain! Your video was AWESOME! (You’re so darn cute!) But, more than cute, you’re right! Just think of the enormous number of people my age who are moving out of the work world and into retirement. This group is looking for a way to make money at home now. And guess what? They are NOT in love with all this virtual stuff! Older people (aka my target market, Boomers) respond to hands-on marketing. Yes, we’re on line, but we still believe in thank you cards, birthday cards, and real gifts.

    You, my dear, have NAILED IT! This is the most sound advice a successful marketer can share. I will be passing this along. Thank you, Lain!

  5. John Ehmann says:

    You are very creative and inspiring!

  6. Lain says:

    Thank you, Patti!

  7. Yvonne Root says:

    Simply excellent information Lain. Well done.
    I do have a question. When you teach your classes, do you ask for a physical address from all the participants? Is it difficult to get that piece of information? (oops, 2 questions.)

    • Lain says:

      Hi Yvonne! I typically get their addresses from their PayPal payments. I also ask the members of my membership site for some personal information, like their phone number and address. I would say that at least 90% of people provide this information to me. Of course, I only use it for happy mail and happy calls. :-)

  8. Abbie says:

    Great ideas Lain. It is true – even in this digital age, snail mail rules.

  9. Lain says:

    Nothing beats getting a little surprise in the mailbox, does it? :-)

  10. Nick Kellet says:

    I’m with Jason. Differentiate. Make it easy to consume. You rocked the video. Pacy, engaging. Totally watchable. Perhaps a touch long. 3 mins is norm, but you kept me watching/ listening

    Remember people don’t always watch. And your audio quality was amazing.

    Great job. I love anything that fuses IRL (in real life) with URL (anything online)

    Jason – flip me an email. I have an idea for you.

  11. Cheryl Linton says:

    As always, you are spot on!! As a real live “boomer,” I totally agree that some of the old ways are still good…some even best! I am as much attached to my computer as most people, but the personal touch still goes farther than the electronic. Sure it is faster, easier and less expensive, BUT…it is also less personal, less thoughtful, colder! Good luck in your competition!!

  12. LOVE all of your ideas and your energy OF COURSE!

    And I am wearing the cute socks to prove that you do what you say! I always love to see the little treat I’m going to receive in the mail!

  13. I’m curious about your methods for obtaining addresses from your customers?

    • Lain says:

      Great question! If they enter it into PayPal, I grab it from there. Also, when people join my membership site, I ask them for their mailing address.

  14. Susan says:

    Great tips Lain! Very inspiring!

  15. Davin Ogden says:

    Wow..phenomenal idea Lain, and a fantastic post. If you’re using video as part of your marketing as
    well, I can see why your customers appreciate you so much. You seem very personable.

    Like some of the others here though to, I’m curious about when, and how, you’re obtaining their home addresses. Please do tell…

    Thanx again..excellent and inspiring!

    • Lain says:

      Thank you! I do use video marketing, and I really enjoy it. I typically get the addresses from their PayPal receipts. They’re sent directly to me.

  16. hypnodude says:

    Great, really great. And a personal touch is always a winner. Wonderful post.

  17. Martin says:

    The internet offers massive opportunities for people of all ages and races. It can be described as the best thing to ever happen to mankind aside JESUS. I am still not sure why many people are not taking advantage of it to make themselves some decent income. I have been doing IM for years and have no regret at all.

  18. Very good Lain…

    At the Insurance Agency I work for we are working hard to find new and interesting ways to mix new media with old school marketing to try and set ourselves apart.

    Love the video.

    Ryan H

    • Lain says:

      Ryan, what type of physical or old school marketing efforts have you made? I’d love to know what you’ve tried, and what has worked for you.

      • Ryan | Strategies in Content Creation says:


        We have a restaurant insurance program that is fairly unique… So what we did was build a landing page http://www.MurrayGRP.com/dining as a squeeze page for potential clients. Then are traditional Letters and Drop-Ins we’re very low pressure… Our entire pitch is visit the website. That’s it. Make it low stress but intriguing to visit the site. Capture leads there and follow up with the interested parties…


        • Lain says:

          Love the low-pressure take on things and the squeeze page is nice and clean – not overwhelming. My thought is to do something in your letter you send out that sets you apart as different. Something they’re not expecting. Studies show that gifts included with letters increase return rates… like the free address stickers from Easter Seals, or the pen included with the survey they want you to fill out.

          In your letter can you make it clever, add some personality, like have it printed on an old-fashioned diner check and include a mint? Or you’re talking about risk – can you play off that somehow? The game risk, or a set of dice, like “If you don’t have proper insurance, you’re betting the future of your restaurant on the roll of the dice…”

          Just some quick thoughts!

  19. Mike Cerio says:

    Awesome advice. We have run a similar campaign with a client http://www.sweet-seed.com.

    Nothing overly fancy…just a hand-written thank you. One of the happy customers who wrote back is actually featured right on the home page.

    People love mail…they hate “junk” mail…personalized “touches” are a great way to show customers you give a damn.

    Really good video!

    • Lain says:

      There is power in the hand-written word. More people need to realize that! And for the one who wrote back to you – there are 100 more who DIDN’T write but feel the same way. :)

  20. Tom Treanor says:

    Lain, very nice! For my Business Blogging Telesummit speakers we sent a thank you card and brownies. I wish I could claim credit for that idea but I got a lot of great feedback from that. I agree that virtual is a positive and a negative – bring more of it “offline”.

  21. Stefanie Reichow says:

    Great idea, and love the video! I’ll have to see about working the idea into my work as I have a personable relationship with my clients.

  22. Saya says:

    What a creative and interesting idea. I enjoyed it

  23. you are on fire! and what did you use to record and edit??

  24. Tanya says:

    Lain! I love how you incorporated video too. :)

    This is a method I can relate to, especially after working in an art supply store for a couple of years now. At the start of this year, I made a pact with myself to start sending out physical (but personal!) cards to some of the artists that I know/work with. Personalization is definitely the way to go with making your customers/clients feel special and involved. I will be making more of a point to put these ideas into practice.

    Now I’m curious to check out your website!

  25. LauraM says:

    I am a new member of the ScrapHappy family and have to say Lain’s strategy works! I adored receiving an actual post card from her. It’s funny that she mentioned that the person using the snail mail strategy needs to actually be the one who writes it. I checked when I received my post card to see if it looked like it was actually signed by her, or was computer generated (which so many things are), or written by her assistant and just signed by her. I was SHOCKED and amazed that she actually did it. She took the time, well within a week of my signing up, to send me the card. My loyalty grew tons from that little gesture. Wouldn’t want tons of mail promotions that I would have to recycle, but definitely love the occasional I’m still thinking of you type of connection.

  26. Carisa Berrett says:

    I have been a recipient of this marketing method!
    It is so great to get a little piece of personal
    In the mail. Brings back the old hometown
    Feel to the world wide impersonal Internet.

  27. Melissa says:

    Hi Lain

    I love this idea! This year I send hand addressed, personalised Christmas cards to all my digital scrapbooking workshop attendees (digital scrapbooking I usually a ‘low-touch” industry) so encouraging to see I’m headed in the right direction. Now to work out how I can stand out for my online attendees too!

    You are totally inspiring! :)

    :) Melissa

  28. Craig says:

    Good job, Lain. I think you owned it with the vid.

    See you around.


  29. Kerry says:

    I too am a member of Lain’s community and have been wowed time and time again with the thoughtfulness of snail mail. She’s definitely one of the most creative people I’ve come in contact with. :)

  30. Hi Lein! This is just so inspirational!

    For a budding marketer like me, I did really learn so much from you!! Thanks for this nostalgic video and for your insightful marketing tips! Chocolates and personalized mementos just does it! And the way you present your tips just seem so heartwarming that it reminds me of my mom who loves baking delicious cookies! Cheers,


  31. Lain says:

    Thanks, Celine! (But I have to say – I have my daughter do the baking around here. I’m known for eating all the dough. Haha!)

  32. SusanB says:

    As a ScrapHappy member I can attest that Lain’s hands-on approach really adds to the “familiness” (is that a word?) of the group. It’s always nice to get something personal and unexpected in the mail ~ it really makes me feel like a valued and important member of the site.

  33. Lynnette says:

    I’ve been so impressed with Lain’s efforts in personal communication. I was really disappointed this past Christmas with how many cards I received that were pre-printed and pre-signed with printed return address and address labels. Clearly, these cards were stuffed, assembly line style, and sent out the door. Many weren’t even licked closed. And these were my family members! Did they think about ME or was it about getting it done? Now, I get it. We are all busy and add the holiday hustle and bustle and it’s just crazy, but if you are that busy, don’t bother. In comparison, Lain took the time to handwrite a note and send engraved scissors and a tote bag. Even the return address was handwritten and on a previous mailing, the envelope was sewn with a sewing machine! Maybe it’s the personal nature of the art of scrapbooking, but Lain always adds a personal touch that shows she appreciates each and every one of her customers.

    • Lain says:

      Lynnette, I am so glad that you appreciated and liked your gift! I had a lot of fun wrapping them up. Though I must admit my handwriting was suffering by the end… 😉

  34. Great video Lain, how brave of you. You’ve inspired me to make some more videos.

    I love your idea and was wondering how this would apply to my market (savvy, entrepreneurial women starting their own businesses from home). Also wondering, as someone else was, how easily you collect people’s snail mail addresses. Sometimes hard just to get an email!

    Funny you say that people don’t send gifts any more. I’m leasing a car from Lings autos (she is quite well known in the UK) and with the paperwork today arrived a handful of brightly coloured, and very delicious, Chinese sweets. That was a nice touch!

    • Lain says:

      Hi Cassie-
      This truly could apply to any market. Send your audience something they’ll use and keep on their desk – mousepad, notepad, a pen with shredded dollars inside (I think I saw those at the US Treasury gift shop!). Something that makes them think of you and that fits into your brand.
      In the video, I didn’t say that no one gives gifts, but that it’s not a common practice online. It’s a common practice in the US for luxury goods providers (autos, financial advisors, etc.) to give thank-you gifts. But I don’t think I’ve ever had it happen when I’ve ordered something online.

      As I mentioned above, I get addresses during the checkout process.
      Thanks for watching!

  35. Kathy Robinson says:

    As a ScrapHappy Family member I can speak from experience that Lain not only will talk the talk but she will walk the walk.
    She makes you feel like you are the special member of the group, which is hard to do with hundreds in a group. I have received many little pick-me-ups for Lain. Except for those wonderful orange handled scissors! How in the word did I miss that??
    This special lady has a lot to teach a lot people about a lot more than just scraping.

    • Lain says:

      oh, Kathy- the scissors were a gift for a LOAD a few years back… Remind me that you need a pair! Thank you for the love. :)

  36. Kathy Hannas says:

    Kathy, I’ll second that thought. I love the little gifts from here (I have two of the scissors… sorry) It’s a great personal touch and I really feel like she knows me even though we’ve never met in person.

    Keep up the great work, Lain!

  37. Trisha Hamilton says:

    I am a member of the ScrapHappy community and remember being so happy upon receiving that postcard! Lain had also asked us to complete a short questionnaire about our scrapping interests and on another occasion I received some goodies that I would have picked out for myself….she actually took the time to read the answers I had written and to choose things I liked. I was amazed. At Christmastime when I received the LOAD notebook with a hand-tied tag signed by Lain, I declared her my idol. :)

  38. Kelli P. says:

    Lain, you have cornered the market on making your customers feel special! These are such great tips and I think as our worlds become more and more “virtual”, people long to have a personal touch and you do that so well! Thank you for being you!

  39. danielle_nl says:

    I’m also a member of the scraphappy family and I love the way Lain interacts with the members by sending them actual gifts accompanied by a handwritten message. this makes me feel so lucky to be part of such a wonderful community.
    It’s the personal touch that does it, thanks Lain!

  40. Stacy says:

    Hi Lain,

    Those are some great ideas, thanks for the video! I’m definitely bookmarking this one for when I figure out a way to make this work with my business!


  41. Chris Frost says:

    I participated in a Webinar True Scrap last October with Lain and had a ball. Lain makes you feel a valued member of her groups. I am from Australia and was thrilled that Lain said “Hi” to me a few times and I’m not sure how I won it, but received a personally autographed copy of her book “Snippits” in the post. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was and now I have joined her Scrap Happy Club and look forward to participating in her LOAD this February. You rock Lain.


  42. Sara says:

    Thank you for sharing. The title caught my eye when someone shared so had to come check it out. Glad I did. I like your tips and the fact that you suggest inexpensive giveaways at first as often times people will say you need high end swag. Glad to be your new follower on twitter and can’t wait to share with my readers.

    • Lain says:

      Thank you, Sara! Yes, indeed – it doesn’t have to be expensive. As long as it generates a smile or is useful in some way, it’s perfect!

  43. LOVE your ideas Lain! So simple and yet saying a true “thank you” is often forgotten. You’re a pro at finding that perfect gift that suits your audience…love the scissors idea!

  44. Imagine how many potential customers you will be able to grab by putting your brand name and logo on a chocolate or birthday card. Thousands of people crave for products like M & M or Hershey’s on a daily basis thus increasing the chances that your logo would be noticed. This is better than getting Justin Bieber or David Beckham to endorse your products.

  45. Lexi Rodrigo says:

    I love your message and tips, Lain! I don’t like those automatic greeting card services, either, and I always handpick and handwrite my cards. It’s a small gesture, but nowadays a stand-out way to truly show people how much you appreciate them.

  46. Peggie Allen says:

    Great presentation, Lain. I LOVE my “Snippets” scissors! And you are right – I don’t have a *single* thing from any other on-line companies where I’ve spent time and money.

  47. Pierre Davis says:

    Personalization is definitely the way to go with making your customers/clients feel special and involved. I will be making more of a point to put these ideas into practice,Thanks for this nostalgic video and for your insightful marketing tips! Chocolates and personalized mementos just does it!

  48. les says:

    Good on you for having a go, and great to see you are successful, an inspiration to the rest of us.

  49. Rock On, @CashMachineGal! (and 3 Lessons Learned…) | Firepole Marketing Blog says:

    […] Go old-school, with chocolates and birthday cards. […]

  50. […] is sometimes called “differentiation“, because suprise, surprise it’s all about being […]

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