How Postcards Can Get Their Groove Back

Cell Phone Trouble
It’s probably safe to say that the travel postcard industry isn’t booming right now. I have no facts to back this up, but in an age where it’s so easy to snap a picture with my camera phone and send it to all of my friends, I just don’t think postcard sales are through the roof right now. So what can postcards do to stay relevant today?

Limited Options
The way I see it, travel postcards have two ways to stay relevant:
  1. Sell inexpensive photographs that ordinary people can’t take by themselves.

  2. Sell something novel that’s worth paying a premium for.
Travel postcards have pretty much been following the first idea since their inception. But I’ve got a new idea for them, and it’s based on the second option…

I Smell a New Idea

Travel postcard printers should start selling scratch n’ sniff postcards. Think about the possibilities:
  • Dear Mom, I’m in Hawaii right now. The fresh pineapple is fantastic. Just scratch and sniff the pineapple on the front of this postcard and you’ll be able to smell for yourself.

  • Dear Dad, you’d love it in Chicago. The deep-dish pizza is incredible. Smell for yourself by scratching and sniffing the picture of the pizza on the front of this postcard.

  • Dear Tommy, India is fantastic. The smell of curry is everywhere, and you know how much I love curry. Scratch and sniff the bowl of spices on the front of this card and you’ll get the idea of what I’m experiencing every day.
Until camera phones can transmit scents, scratch n’ sniff postcards will have this market cornered. Is it a silly idea? Of course! But that’s what makes it a good one. It’s something new and different. And I’d fork over a buck to send my mom and dad a smell of Michigan apples even if I know that the smell won’t arrive to them until after I’ve already called and told them how my weekend getaway went.

Add This to Your To-Do List

Are there ways in which you can spice up your long-standing product lines in new ways? Are there ways to bring the other senses into your product offerings? Maybe you can add noise to something that has never made noise – just like Hallmark’s new line of singing greeting cards. Maybe you can add a new flavor. It’s okay to think of some silly ideas because silly can be novel, and novel sells. What smells would you send from your travels?

There’s never a lack of ideas.

A special thanks to my colleagues in the greater IES Abroad Marketing department for sparking this creative idea.

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