BJC is somewhat of a history buff. For instance, I know that scribes in ancient Mesopatamia were extremely important, trained to write cuneiform in order to document history. Without scribes, letters would not have been written, monuments would not have been carved, and stories would have been long forgotten. (In essence, scribes fulfilled a need.)

With time, skill sets evolved: soon came the art of calligraphy. Soon-to-be couples or the parents of the pre-pubescent Bar Mitzvah boy wanted to add that personal, aesthetic touch to their invitations and envelopes, but they did not have fancy computers and graphic design programs, so they went to someone with a steady hand. In fact, calligraphy was the basis for the design of Apple Computers. It’s a skill and an artform, and I have nothing but respect for it. (Again, calligraphers fulfilled a need.)

That leads me to what I found this evening. I got an email from Dealster.com advertising a new service called Thankster that offers to write your thank you cards and personal notes and send them for you. In the words of my friends from South Boston, I will now give Thankster “the business:

1) Your value proposition is a joke. You want me to pay you so you can write a thank you card to my dear friends and loved ones for a gift they gave me? I understand people are lazy, but even an email from me would be better than a thank you card from a stranger. If I’m going on your website to type out the message, why wouldn’t I just print out the cards in a script font and send them myself? I can copy and paste if need be. Why factor in the variable of human error on your writers’ parts? You bring no value to me.

2) Don’t hire your marketing department straight out of high school. In Thankster’s about us page, they write: “Thankster was created to fulfill a very simple mission – to greatly ease the burden of writing thank you notes and similar (generally handwritten) missives, such as holiday cards.  These cards are expected to be written in your own handwriting, and yet they tend to be very repetitive and very numerous – and as a result, very laborious to write.”

You can’t be serious! “Very laborious to write?” Really? First off, your marketing director is a clown. That copy is horrendous. Your syntax is awful. You have redundant verbage, and you don’t even use sales speak. Who the heck says “laborious” in every day conversations? Get a clue and hire some professionals!

3) You have the audacity to have a reseller program. It’s not bad enough that you’re selling a seasonal, niche service with no staying power, but you expect other schmucks to sell it on your behalf? What’s the sales pitch? “Hey, you want a good way to offend your aunt and uncle after they gave you that $200 wedding gift? Have someone else write the thank you card!” Give me a break! 15% commission of nothing is… you guessed it… NOTHING! Delusions of grandeur… I think so!

Overall friends, know this when starting a business in an economy facing a second recession: Build a business around a need. Yes, people may not have time to demonstrate their appreciation through a handwritten note, but who has the money to pay someone else to do it? People are losing jobs, houses, and more, but I’m sure they can find a pen. No thanks, Thankster.

Oh, and check out their blog: http://blog.thankster.com/ – I’d love to give them my credit card.

Jake Burns