Why some greetings flop

Terri See and Sandra Miller-Louden have been writing greeting cards for years, and they've channeled that experience into classes, books, and Web sites to help others get into the business. Here are some examples they've seen of attempts that missed the mark, and tips for how to write successful verses.

Sandra Miller-Louden:

Friendship:

Picture of bears, no caption.

(inside) You are a 'beary' wonderful friend.

There are three types of puns: 1) the ones that are overused; 2) the ones that "reach" too far and no one "gets"; 3) the clever, immediately recognizable ones that sell. This card falls under the first category. A company won't pay freelance dollars for tired puns.

Birthday:

Congratulations on the reoccurrence of the commemoration of your natal anniversary.

(inside) In other words, you're a year older same as the rest of us.

The words on the outside are long and uninteresting and would lose a consumer immediately. Writers must keep in mind "rack impact," the 1-1/2 seconds each card has to catch a reader's eye.

Terri See:

General Congratulations:

Every bright star began as just a twinkle ...

(inside) You really outshine them all. Someday I'll be saying I knew you when!

Very nice thing to say, but it is sendable to a relatively limited number of recipients. Implies fame or above-average accomplishment and may be perceived as a bit of pressure to the recipient. If the inside line read, "You really outshine them all!" the card could be sent for a wide range of accomplishments, i.e., to someone who completed a dance recital, received an award, was nominated to city council. It would be warm without implying a close relationship.

Love:

If I can't have you, no one will.

This is a lost cause and downright scary, more of a "stalker card" than a love card.

For more information, contact Terri See, www.CardReps.com, or Sandra Miller-Louden at FelshamLdy@aol.com (for a free tip sheet, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Ms. Miller-Louden at PO Box 9701, Pittsburgh, Pa., 15229).

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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