A nice part of running an independent software product is you can do sometimes things just because you feel like it. In the age of growth/revenue/metrics/etc, building software products can sometimes end up leaving you feeling… grey. Even working on an amazingly fun product like NanaGram can sometimes get boring if one gets too close.
NanaGram is designed to increase connection between young and old. I originally created it for my grandparents as a gift for my grandfather when he turned 94. While it’s not just for elderly people, they’re the group that benefits the most. This always surprises me: It’s not exercise or diet, or how much you drink or smoke that predicts a long life. It’s the frequency and quality of your social interactions.
NanaGram’s core product (sending 4×6 prints in the mail to your loved ones) helps bring people closer together. For example, countless customers have told me their loved one calls them the moment they get every delivery to chat about the photos and life. When the pandemic emerged I started thinking about hundreds of NanaGram recipients who became even more isolated if there was anything I could do to brighten their days.
Sure, NanaGram increases connection with more (and more fun) phone calls and visits, but the pandemic got me thinking about how to make the service more interactive for recipients. I got an idea and pitched it to my brother-in-law Matt Woods (@hallowwoods). Every month, let’s draw a cute animal, print it on a blank 4×6 postcard and include it with people’s NanaGram photo deliveries. He agreed! Matt is a seriously prolific artist, creating unique art each day for his Instagram so I wasn’t surprised he was up for the challenge.
Every month for 18 months, Matt created inspiring, adorable art. We printed tens of thousands of postcards. We gave people a way to opt out of the free postcards. Few did.
If I’d done something like this inside a big company it would’ve been cancelled within the first couple of months. It’s not the kind of thing that can easily be tracked to some kind of ROI and even if it was, it probably isn’t a profitable experiment.
I still don’t really know what kind of an impact these postcards had. I could’ve done a better job reaching out to recipients for feedback but like I said, I did this just because I wanted to, not for ROI. (Okay, maybe ROI in terms of Return-On-Brightening-People’s-Days — ROBPD — it’s not about money.)
Chances are, in January and February I’ll probably get a bunch of voicemails from NanaGram recipients asking what happened to the postcards!
You can check out all of the postcards in the series below.
While visiting my aunt recently I told her we’d be ending the series. She asked if she could order note cards with a blank inside. I asked Matt if he’d notecard sets but he’s unsure if enough people would want them. If you’re interested in ordering a set, contact me!
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