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Innovation Rule # 1: Make it interesting

Gift cards, the universal gift that you can buy anywhere for almost anything. Let me begin by saying I have a love/hate relationship with gift cards. They’re the easiest thing to buy for someone, but they don’t always express the same emotion as something uniquely picked out for someone. As I’ve once heard from a TV show that escapes my memory, “Thanks, you gave me something just as good as money, but is limited to only being used at one place.” Gift cards are an easy out. For young kids, teens, and college kids gift cards mean freedom, for those of us who work and make enough to get by, the cards mean the person had no clue what to get you, or wanted to get you something only you could pick out. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, I’ve been on both sides of the equations. I’ve been happy and disappointed. So now I try not to give cards unless it falls into the following categories(and no I wouldn’t necessarily say these to the person):

  • “I don’t know you that well”
  • “I didn’t want to show up empty handed but I still care about you”
  • “I don’t want to get a gift and not have something to give in return”
  • “I wanted you to do something fun, but you don’t have to take me or be on my schedule”
  • “I want you to spend time together with your family/significant other for that is better than any physical gift”
  • “You have a boring life, I think you should try something new”
  • “You can use the money, more than a gift”

Sometimes it’s the little things that spark inspiration. One of these little sparks was an interesting product I saw at our local Lowe’s Home Improvement stores. While looking over the gift cards at the register I noticed something I had never seen before.

In the gift card holders they had something more than just an envelope, or a small box to hold the card. They had a miniature paint roller, tray, and gift card holder. The best part is this roller is a fully functional tool.



Lowe’s Gift Card Holder

My thoughts first go to a housewarming gift, but it could be easily used for a new baby with little cans of blue and pink paint. You could even stretch it into a child graduating and now having to fix up the apartment.

I’ve seen similar holders from Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Target. One of them had a very tiny home improvement guide, another had a small wooden folding ruler. Target had one that was a thumb wrestling ring with 2 holes for thumbs. The person I gave it to didn’t even realize it was a gift card until I told them.

The overall point is that just because a gift card is a bit of a blah gift, doesn’t mean it has to be delivered in an uninteresting way. To make something innovative it has to be interesting. Would Ginsu knives be a household name if they didn’t saw into a hammer? Sure, but it’s those interesting twists that catch our attention, make them stick in our memory, and make them last.

Innovation happens every day, but if it’s not interesting it doesn’t get noticed. Despite the shoe industry’s best efforts to advertise new types of shoe treads, it’s just not that interesting. But, when they added toes to shoes to make it more like not wearing a shoe, more people started taking notice.

Make it interesting, make it different, make it stand out.


Innovation Rule #1: Make it Interesting

Innovation = Improvement + Interesting


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