I grew up in a household where gifting was a big deal.
Birthdays were big. Christmases were bigger. And then there were a whole lot of other in-between occasions that always gave my family a good excuse to gift each other and celebrate. While the material value always played a role, it was really second fiddle to the thought that went into it. But one thing always became a bit of a tradition to us - the personalization in the messaging.
My family would often spend more time at the Hallmark or American Greetings rack at the local stationery or grocery store than at the gift shop. The greeting card, for us, played a huge role in making the message, and the intent, resonate with the recipient and others around them. But we never picked one of those pre-packaged poem cards. We’d always go the extra mile for the creative ones and certainly the humorous ones.
My middle sister had taken the greeting card to artistic levels. She was the go-to person for selecting the funniest, most sarcastic, or most meaningful greeting card that would make the recipient burst into tears of laughter, joy or emotion. So it was that when gift giving time came, the opening of the greeting card had more anticipation than the opening of the gift.
Fast forward many years later, I find myself working at GiftCards.com. I was never a huge gift card fan, as they felt somewhat impersonal to me. But what converted me was the ability to put a personal photo on the plastic card. Throughout my years there, I sent many a friend and relative a Visa gift card with a photo of their pet, their kids, grandchildren, a fun college memory or a live concert we had recently shared. They never failed to be a conversation piece. From the “awwwws…” to the “LOLs” they always did the trick. Eventually, I enhanced the practice by carefully selecting photos of my friends’ social media profiles, where there was plenty of material and a lot of potential for laughs and even healthy embarrassing.
Fast forward a few years later, and I find myself working at GiftYa, where we have now raised the bar on this practice of the personal messaging. With a GiftYa, you can send a photo from a beautiful memory, take a selfie of two best friends on the spot, pull a video of your kid taking their first steps or shoot a video on the spot to send a funny or meaningful message. In today’s selfie-obsessed, Instagram-focused and YouTube-addicted consumers, this is a feature that not only resonates with the times, but changes the experience.
Recently I was at a bar with a close friend having a pint at our favorite microbrewery in town and we couldn’t help but remember a close friend who used to join us but had recently moved to the west coast. As we reminisced about not having him around any more, we decided to send him a GiftYa for a pint at his favorite pub in LA. Surely, we shot a video raising the mugs and poking fun at him for being so far away in surf land. The message was one third sappy and two thirds hysterical. The gift was just a ten-dollar beer. But the personalization and the context, where the medium became part of the message, is what made the gift so special. All the way from Pittsburgh, we were able to send our buddy a GiftYa to his favorite pub across the country with a message that we knew would resonate with him, far more than the beer he would have on us. And resonate it did. Five minutes later, we both got a text back: “You two idiots made my day LOL.”
Written by Carlos Tribino, CMO