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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Next Stop On The Great Round The World Envelope Race: Australia

Here's the latest on the The Great Round The World Envelope Race...  Although I got sidetracked reporting on my progress with the Bathroom Blogfest '08, I did take action.

I got back from Arizona and found Team Power Tac's envelope awaiting me. What a rush!  Finally, after the announcement that the Great Round The World Envelope Race has begun... it was my turn to experience the envelope and its marvels.

Here's what surprised me the most about this experience:  it fully engaged my senses.

First, the envelope itself.  It had traveled and bore some of the marks.  It was inscribed with vital details:  addresses and postal directions.  It had postage, Air Mail and registration stickers from the Royal Mail, as well as a green customs sticker.

To open the envelope, I had to use physical effort - beyond double-clicking to open an email. My hands interacted with the envelope and my brain assisted, advising how best to slice it open without damaging the contents.

And, then, I had to reach in to remove the contents: multiple envelopes [each subsequent stage of this race occurs with a smaller sized envelope], a log sheet, something representing the country from where the envelope came [notice the UK postcard], and a surprise.

The surprise definitely surprised... in the intensity of its olfactory presence.  Close your eyes and imagine smelling tea leaves - a little mint and a bit of green tea.  I was transported elsewhere.

I was also stunned as I anticipated a tactile envelope experience, but not one that incorporated smell in such a delightful manner.  This, then, is how the analog envelope experience surpassed the digital equivalent.

The opportunity, then, in using envelopes to communicate with customers is to include what can't be captured digitally.  Make it more about more than words.  Make it about engaging the senses and touching the heart.  Have it express humanity and personality...  thereby making it memorable.

As I prepared my envelope for its next stage, I rethought my original ideas on what to include for Jodi.  I hope the experience transforms her as much as it did me.

Here, I include a photo of my local post office from which I sent the envelope off to Jodi in Australia.

Notice how adorned my envelope is with stickers and stamps, postage and barcodes and customs forms.

I look forward to hearing how my other Power Tac Team members enjoy their memorable envelope experience.

And I hope that my experience helps you re- appreciate the potential of an envelope for creating a memorable experience for your retail customers.

By the way, some background.  We compete against Team Manila.  We're involved in this Great Round The World Envelope Race because New Guardian - a British envelope company - believes passionately in the envelope and its importance.  In conjunction with Pushing the Envelope, they decided to organize an international cultural envelope race with the help of bloggers from around the world to challenge the perception that envelopes are boring.

My envelope came from the UK - with details posted on the Pushing the Envelope blog.  From the USA, the envelope heads toward Australia, and then Italy, France and Belgium before returning to the UK!


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