Can you do whatever you want with your business?

Have you ever played the game Cards Against Humanity? It's a card game where each turn one player will read a card and the other players will all play one of their cards that they think the first player will pick as ‘the best.' As an example, the first player might play a card that reads “Daddy, why is mommy crying?” And the other players will play cards such as “Hospice Care” or “A big hoopla about nothing.”

OK, those are two of the tamest answers in the entire game. You see, the game is for adults. A more likely response to the question above might be “Penis Envy” or “An Ass Disaster.” OK, these two are also pretty tame. Before we get too graphic, let's just say that there are absolutely NO limits on the possible answers.

While the game itself is a lot of fun, you should follow the antics of the company that produces the game. Their tag line is “a free party game for horrible people.”, seriously, what's not to love?

I gotta have it

When I was first introduced to the game, I was at a conference. When I returned home, I went to the mall and hit up every game store we could find. The first 3 had never even heard of the game. In the 4th store a guy had heard of it and told us “You can't buy it in stores, you have to buy it online.” So, back home I went to place my order.

Slightly annoyed that I couldn't buy it at the store and drive home with it, I logged on to their site to place my order. While checking out the site I noticed a link to download the game in PDF format.

Let me get this straight; I can't buy the game in a store, but you'll give it to me for free on your site. OK, you got me, I'm intrigued.

I downloaded the PDF, and sure enough, there were all the cards. But do I really want to print them, cut them and play using some very flimsy cards? Nope. I placed my order and the game was on it's way to me.

A short time later I was back at their site to buy their first and second expansion packs. Like I said, the game is a lot of fun.

Pay what you want

Near the end of last year, I received an email from the company talking about a special holiday card expansion set. Of course I was going to buy it. When I went to the site, I found that they weren't just selling it for a specific amount, they had set up the option to allow people to pay what they wanted. That's right, you could pay any amount at all. Zero on up. My first thought was, you guys are insane! I payed for my set (5 or 7 dollars, as I recall) and they arrived a short time later. After the sale was all over, they posted the results for he Pay-what-you-want holiday pack sale.

Spoiler alert, they aren't crazy. The sale turned a profit to the tune of $70,066.27. But if you read their stats page, you might back to thinking they're crazy. They donated all the profits to Wikimedia. (watch the video at the bottom)

For me, it wasn't just about the money they earned and then gave away, I loved that they took a crazy chance. A chance that could have gone very, very wrong.

Black Friday, uh, sale??

Did you get inundated with emails for Black Friday sales? I know I did. As somebody on Facebook suggested doing, I used it as a perfect time to unsubscribe from the bulk of them. But of course, one of those sales stuck out for me. The guys from CAH were at it again. The headline reads:

Today only! All Cards Against Humanity products are $5 more.

Nope, that's not a typo. On Black Friday, the day where people are just itching to spend money on anything that is on sale, they took a major risk and RAISED their prices. Even though I already own the game, I wanted to buy it again at the higher price just because I loved what they were making a joke on a day where most companies are very serious about making sales.

So, did it pay off for them? Of course it did. They posted an article talking about the idea behind raising the price and, of course, a graph of their sales. Their sales on Black Friday itself were just about the same as the previous year. But unlike the previous year where the following day saw sales drop off, this year sales shot way up. Was that just people waiting a day for the price to go back down? Who knows.

Once again, they took a chance that could have had a very negative effect on their business.

So let me ask you, do you think Apple could get away with doing something like this? How about Walmart, Best Buy or Target. Or, if you want to think a bit smaller, what about a local restaurant? Would people pay 25% more for a burrito because a company decided to be funny?

Alright, we aren't really talking about burritos here. What I'm really curious about is, could you do this with your business? Would you even think to try something like this?

I like watching and learning from companies like this. So that, hopefully, the next time I have the opportunity to do something unconventional, I don't just mail it in. But instead, take the unexpected path.

Oh, and if you haven't done so already, buy Cards Against Humanity.