Ariya complained about me being too theoretical again and wanted examples for my last blog. So here we go.

One of my alltime favourite online companies is moo.com. I bet you heard me talking about it already. They make those lovely mini cards, post cards, shiny little stickers, and cleverly use a lot of 3rd party services on the web both for their products and their marketing. Let’s have a look.

MOO Card Storage by visualdensity on flickr

MOO Card Storage by visualdensity on flickr

I first heard about MOO – surprise – on a blog. WWD had an article about business cards which hit me exactly in the right moment, so to speak. I needed cards to give out to conductors and colleagues I met at concerts that needed to be easily connected back to that soprano at that concert. So I headed over to MOO and was thrilled.

Apart from the clever product portfolio MOO is interesting to look at from a community perspective too.

MOO knows where their customers are.

If you choose a product on the MOO website you are given the option to import your photos from flickr, bebo, facebook or etsy. Since many people upload polished images to those sites it makes total sense to use those 3rd party APIs and make it as easy as possible to use those photos. But that is only the product site of things.

MOO is present on all of the services they integrate into their website. A quick flickr search gave me 185.545 image results and 2 groups dedicated to MOO products. One of them started by MOO fans dedicated to trading MOO cards.

Why is that interesting?

MOO’s customers apparently already use a service like flickr to store their photos and have them printed onto the products they order. As they are custom made and unique in style they come with that special excitement about individualism that then motivates us to show them around. What would be more natural than uploading photos of them to flickr and blog about it?

By smartly integrating a service like flickr into the product MOO builds a community as their main differentiator and gains an enourmous amount of visibility. It is no surprise that bloggers picked up on the small British business quickly after they launched their website.

People make the difference.

There is a zillion online printing services out there, you can order business cards everywhere. Just like you can download software everywhere on the net. The difference is the community around it. People form groups around things they like, be it cards or software, and team up to help each other or simply exchange thoughts and ideas. Members of these groups will then tell their friends and the groups will grow by themselves making the product more visible and in the long-term more successful.

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